These mountains is where fresh air is made. I think it must be so. To see, as I walk down roads of red dirt, dark gray menacing clouds sneak over verdant mountains, wind racing down out of nowhere, makes me glad I am close to the campo. But to miss those moments just before a good rain, as this one is, would be like missing the most well made appetizer before a good meal. I am also glad my room here has inches between the top of the wall and tiles and beams of the roof. That fresh air comes in perfect measure. Again, right outside my door family conversation, always very pleasant.
I don’t think my roof leaks but let me look……nope, not a drop although the tiles are loose and unevenly spaced, and very old.
I am feeling much better today, stomach bug gone. I went into Ocotal to get and send messages (and all my loved ones please know that this is the easiest way to send messages to you all, via the blog that Joy so graciously puts together for me, and such a beautiful job she has done! Thank you Joy). I expect that you are the only ones reading it so it is for you. The aroma from a doorway on the street called me inwards to have a tortilla, a small amount of grilled chicken and a little rice,, all of $2, first meal I have enjoyed since feeling puny. Heavy clouds most of the day kept the day cooler than usual. I hear, through Marisela that a storm is brewing on the Pacific coast, bringing rain here as well.
Ramona, Marisela and Frederlinda are in the cocina cooking. They have a plaster stove that is made into a trough about 10 inches wide and just as deep where long one inch diameter sticks, gathered from the forest, are burnt to cook. As the stick burns it is pushed in a little more. They vary but are about 4 feet long to start with………Excuse me for a minute, I have been called for dinner.
……………OK, I am back. Muy rico! That chicken was wandering freely ’round the yard yesterday. With beans from their fields and rice along with fresh hand made tortillas…I could not ask for more. They treat me as a king, I always eat first, even before the other men of the house. (makes me feel a little odd though and I eat fast to get out of the way) But it was good.
Nicaso, grandpa, was working on handmade brooms all day to sell in town. An uncle was building the new shower stall and washroom. It is about 3 feet high after today and yesterday. Handmade bricks were brought in. Sand/gravel was hauled in from the river bank. 100 lb sacks were brought up the mountain on Amilkar’s back (I had to take Aleve just from watching him). It will have a ‘pila’ in the middle for water brought up (many times in 5 gallon buckets on Marisela’s head, up the mountain from the family well below). No plumbing here. The shower will still be bowled over the head. I have learned the procedure just fine. All I need is to start to stink and then who needs hot water?
I visited a nearby house today around the bend looking for a young man who I met on the roadway. He had asked if I would help with his English and I said I would. But I may not have time since I may be leaving soon but I wanted to talk to him. His mother invited me into their home and gave me fresh coffee. She was so welcoming and pleased that I had come by, so loving. Eddy, the young man is so pleasant and was very grateful for the English/Spanish translation paperback I gave him in place of my personal tutoring. It was a big gift for the family or at least they made me feel as such.
Sol, the cat (the one with the really good nose, no dog has anything on him) is crying with all his might around the table. He too would like some of that chicken! As usual the family is gathered around the table, under the roof overhang outside, eating and talking, young and old. The more I get to know these people the more I appreciate them. So happy, friendly, sharing, hard working and non-complaining simple people. I wish I could share their values with our family young ones so they can see how people who have to live from the earth with very little can be so happy and gentle. Now, I am sure everyone here is not like this. I am very lucky to be among the ones that are. The more ‘cityfied’ kids are the more they fall prey to commercialism and materialism.
I imagine these people not to be, at all, perfect. They will take what they are given, the simple life is their lot, may be, not their choice. It has served them well for many years though. The rest of the world could completely fall apart and they would continue as they have all their lives. They would still work the fields, young and old. They would continue to move their bulls from field to field for fresh grass. The gathering of wood from the forest for cooking, the washing done in the streams, the hauling water from wells, and just about everything else they do to live would not depend the least on Wall Street’s health or the general economy in general. Certainly in today’s world the price of gas or other essentials acquired from town or the value of their currency could be an added burden if it took a nose dive but it has never stopped them before.
My mood goes up and down (remember, I am, in large part, a Moody) and I am feeling a bit sad from just hinting around that I may be leaving soon. I looked at pictures with Frederlinda today of family over the years (such a proud people!) and friends they have made over the years through the volunteer program that includes these ‘home stays’. My room was especially built for this purpose. Certainly it is an added income for the family but it is also a grand cultural exchange for all involved. Joy knows how this works. Her family, even though JoAnne, her mom took care of ten kids on her own would still take in foreign exchange students each year.
I have certainly benefited from this experience.
Feeling better, I am over my general negativity. The short illness I had made many things ultra irritating…the smoke coming into my room directly from the cocina, the strong smell or a ripe guava in my room (which was flung out the window), the latrine, all things not usually offensive were suddenly so. This included my lack of language skills, personality conflicts, and the just plain heat all worked to feed my itch to be on my way. I haven’t changed my mind but I will be in no rush. I will be sure my project is understood (something that has been a problem in the past in this program, volunteers take all they have learned with them, leaving the Collective with not much help once they leave). Mine is well documented, one thing good that came out of my discontent was to get it done quickly. My being here is a, if only small, burden to the family. Although I think they have done it for years now and are used to just about any personality and mood. Friendliness and service to others seems to come easy for them.
So, the adventure continues. Please stay tuned.
My love to you all.