Monday, July 29, 2013

Nicaragua: Work, Eat, Work

There are a few different places where our little chores take place. Today we were given a choice of sorting out toiletries and the other things that everyone lugged over here in order to donate, or doing construction. I honestly didn't care either way, and Lydia preferred staying at the compound and sorting, so that’s what we did. It’ll be a nice way of easing into the routine over here, I think.

 We sleep in bunk beds. It's all very summer camp.

Our dining room.

Similar versions of this political poster are plastered all over the country.

Fun and familiar annoyances of life are here; there is indoor plumbing but apparently it’s terrible. The group leader Carroll put it poetically, “You can only flush things that come out of your body”. That means toilet paper, contrary to its very name, cannot go in the toilet. It goes in a little trash can next to the toilet. It gets worse. If you catch yourself accidentally putting paper in the toilet, there is a box of surgical gloves handy to use whilst fishing it out. A distant second of pain-in-the-buttness is that there is apparently no hot water for showering. It could be a smelly week.

Lunches here take quite a while. We first have to collect everyone from their sometimes disparate work places. We then eat at the same place every workday. It’s this cool sort of cafeteria place that has food that local/normal people eat. There were a few new things to try, and the food offered is different every day.

Clockwise from the red beans are a sweet(fried?) plantain, something like a zucchini stuffed with the local salty cheese, really good friend chicken, and rice.

We all washed down our lunch with really heavy returnable bottles full of soda. They mostly had brands familiar to Americans but of course we went for the couple weird ones.

Lydia managed to find one that both tasted bad and was racially insensitive. Good work!

Our lunch ritual then takes us to a nearby grocery store. I love grocery stores because they are usually an inexpensive way to learn about a culture’s food. This one wasn't as weird and crazy as I was hoping. It turns out that the company, La Union, is owned by Walmart. That would explain the place’s unfortunate familiarity. It was fun nonetheless. Everyone gets ice-cream and then heads back to their workplace via the school bus.

While the first half of our day was spent putting things into bags, the second was more strenuous. We rode our big yellow school bus out to a school that is affiliated with the mission. Our task this time was to shovel dirt into a wheelbarrow and then move it over to where to foundation of a new school building was about to be started. It was slow and laborious work but it gave us some time to chat and see the school.

All of this time outdoors has led to some bug pictures.

This little snack shack was right outside the doors to the school.

One of my favorite parts of the trip is simply the drive to work. The mission compound is not technically in the city of Managua, but the nearby town of Nejapa. People’s houses have a lot of open-aired areas and they seem to generally spend a lot of time outside. At night I saw a family sitting around a television outside. It’s a cool look into their lives but I also feel a bit like an uninvited guest from my bus window.

Political graffiti.

 This guy drives back and forth trying to find metal to buy and then recycle for money.

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