Work All Day, Work All Night

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Last night I went to a reggae party to celebrate Bob Marley’s birthday. His music is still very popular here. After the party I went to another bar. On the sidewalk across from the bar, a woman was selling corncobs and yuccachips. I asked her about her life, and she told me she had to work night and day in order to afford books and pencils for her children. She had 5 children – the youngest 9. She lived with her husband and children in Sutiava – the indigenous community in León.

I asked if she still practiced Sutiava traditions, and she answered amnistía.

She told me she was a catholic; she uses traditional indigenous clothes at parties; the indigenous traditions are most apparent during Easter.

I wondered when she would go to sleep. When I left at 2am she was still there, and I have often seen her during daytime as well. She seemed happy, but her life seemed hard.

Isla Juan Venado Nature Reserve and Las Peñitas

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Telica

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telica

Telica

Last Saturday I traveled to Telica. We left León around 2.30 pm. It took about two hours to drive from León to the volcano.  The country roads were dusty. It seemed as if we were in the middle of a big cloud, and I wondered how the driver could navigate. At least the car was closed. The day before I had traveled to León Viejo in an open bus/truck, and the dust made it hard to breathe – it felt as if I had swallowed a sandpit. The country roads were very uneven as well. Friday I was sure the truck would tip over, and at some point we all had to get out of the car because it was stuck.

On the way to the volcano we made a stop to greet a peasant family. They looked happy and openhearted.

The Telica hike was easy. There were many rocks on the trail, but it only took about an hour to reach the crater. We took turn to crawl to the crater and grovel with our heads over the crater. There was a strong smell of sulfur, which stayed in my throat for a while. There was not much to see, except from a big white cloud of smoke. But lying there was amazing.

telica

I watched the sunset over the Pacific Ocean. The sun disappeared into the ocean at exactly 6pm. It was so beautiful. The landscape was interesting. It was totally flat, but volcanoes popped of from the plains towards Managua, to the north and behind us. This made it easy to view the ocean, León, Managua and Lago de Managua. The sun seemed flat when it sunk into the ocean.

Telica

Telica

We put on our headlights and walked back to the crater in the twilight. As we came closer to the crater a magical a magical noise broke out. It was as if the volcano talked with a loud and deep voice. I got to grovel with my head over the crater again. This time the view had changed. The lava fizzed in the depth. I wondered if I could see the bottom, or if the hole reached all the way to the center of the earth. I had no sense of the distance, but the lava looked like big rocks glowing with a burning red color. The smell of sulfur once again willed my nostrils.

Telica's lava

Telica’s lava

The sky was covered by starts. I even saw a shooting star.

No wonder why the indigenous people animated nature.

Telica

Telica

León, León viejo, Laguna del Tigre

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Nica hospitality

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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

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.

15 el mercado (10)

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.    

tiste

tiste

el mercado

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