I spent last week in La Concha with David’s (MCC co-worker) family. My days were filled with the Spanish language as I worked with various farmers harvesting their fruit crop. Next time you eat an orange or tangerine it might just have been picked or caught by yours truly. I also took the opportunity to do a lot of cooking while I was there. David's mother and I spent many nights cooking traditional Nicaragua dishes as well as some pizza's (our new little tradition) and a Columbian soup.
Life in Nicaragua is often difficult. However, this statement became much more of a reality for me as I lived life out in the campo. At this time of year, water is a very precious resource. On two separate nights the family and I needed to get up at 2 AM (the time of day when water may be available), walk into the woods, crawl into a hole, and see if there is water that can then be connected to a pump that ultimately brings the water into the house. Our first night was unsuccessful, however, on the second there was water and showers for everyone (of course they were a bit cold).
The other reality that I was introduced to was the difficult work required in the harvesting of fruit and chocolate. Our days were filled with labor; men crawling in trees, catching fruit on the ground and peeling the tedious cacao pods in order to make chocolate. After each day my neck hurt, my fingers ached and all I wanted to do was crawl into bed.
The end of the week was wrapped up with a harvest sale at David's church. The fruit we harvested and the chocolate we made were sold in order to support the work of the church. There was also scrumptious Nicaraguan food for all to enjoy. I must admit that I did leave the men in the field for a good part of Saturday to join the women in the kitchen. I now have a few new recipes for Cassie and I to try!
My visit to Estelí started off interesting when I passed the town on a direct bus that wasn't supposed to stop for a couple more hours. After getting that figured out, the rest of the week was pretty uneventful. I jumped into the daily grind with the family, this meant waking up at 4:45am. Our mornings consisted of a run (rare for Nicaraguans, but much appreciated by me), bucket showers, gallo pinto and conversations in Spanish. Let’s just say that the Spanish didn’t always sound pretty at 4:45am. On the mornings when I was really tired and didn’t want to get out of bed, I made sure to remind myself that the mom woke up at 3:30 to start the laundry. The water source is best at this time.
Throughout the week I helped out at the family owned second hand clothing store. The store was opened three months ago and is providing income to each of the five siblings. It is quite an incredible operation that they have going and I was blessed that they invited me right on in. While working at the store, I was able to practice my Spanish with the employees and their customers. Overall I found the week to be quite helpful in both building my conversational skills and also for making new friends.
While in Estelí, I was overwhelmed with the families generosity. Continually I see families with little materially giving generously what they have to their guests. They invited me to come back with Kevin. And so on Thursday, we will head back out for two more weeks!