Monday I visited the market with my friend. We talk to the woman who sells arroz con leche con dulce de leche, and she invited us for dinner today (Thursday). She asked us if we liked galle pinto and scrambled eggs and we said we did. The woman is the only one actually living in the market. Every time I go I see her, sitting on a chair facing the market and wearing a white apron – which is no longer that white. She sells atol and arroz con dulce leche. She also charges people to use her restroom. She has a two flour house in green and blue colors. Her grandson showed us around the house. The living room is the room which is open to the street. There she has a bed, a stove, shelves and a hammock. Upstairs she has nothing except for a great view over the rooftops of the market and the volcanoes in the distance.
I had looked forward to this day ever since the last visit. My friend and I had imagined that we should actually eat with this woman and have a conversa tion over the table.
the chef is dressed in orange; the host is sitting in the rocking chair
We brought a large piece of cheese as a gift. When we arrived at 5.50pm the market was about to close. A couple of female venders had gathered in the house and they found us two chairs. We sat beside the atoll selling woman and tried to have a conversation. She was busy viewing life in the market, but she asked us about our experiences in León. She was mumbling quite a bit so we had a bit of trouble understanding her. Out of the sudden she called one of the women in the house, and the other woman came back with a newborn baby she placed in my arms. The baby girl was born January 1st and very fragile but adorable. Her skin was so pale she could have been a European. I passed the baby on to my friend. The father (grandson of the Arroz con leche con dulce de leche woman) came by. He was only 18 years old and in high school.
Another woman who was cooking asked us to eat. The little table in the middle of the living room was only set for two. The table was covered with a Christmas table cloth. The food was served in porcelain plates accompanied with plastic spoons. They had served us each a plate with rice, kidney beans, and pork. A plate in the middle contained two half tortillas. We were each served a cup of very sweet coffee as well. I asked our host if she was not going to eat, and she shook her head in response. It felt very strange, being eating delicious food by a table in the middle of a house where the others are doing their own things. One of the women was eating some food from a carton cup while she was watching the Spanish version of Top Model. The parents of the newborn were sitting in a hammock etc. When we were done eating a 13 year old granddaughter came to the table to clean up. She started talking, and asked for our names and facebook. She handed us the baby again and she told us proudly she was the aunt.
We kissed everybody goodbye on the cheeks and said “mucho gusto” and “gracias”. We will surely visit this house regularly to practice Spanish
Though we felt a bit misplaced this story is an example of Nica-hospitality. Even though the this woman lived in a humble house she invited us to eat at her house (and she even served us meat!) and put a nice table cloth on the table.
Afterwards we went a nice local place for a cup of coco con leche (15c). The restaurant was also the family living room. We asked about the different local dishes on the menu, and the husband of the owner started talking about Nicaraguan crops, religion and his life in general. The wife found family photos and he found posters of the Virgin of Guadalupe, the Virgin Mary and Nuestra Señora de las Mercedes (the saint of León). We asked the women if she also served Indio Viejo, and she said she could do it. We arranged she would cook us the dish tomorrow – un plato con pollo y el otro vegetariano. – I guess you can get what you want as long as you ask a couple of ours ahead. Before we left the man offered us a taste of tiste – a drink from an uncovered bucket in the middle of the restaurant, containing cocoa, water and sugar.