February 24, 2013

My First Nicaraguan Wedding

On Valentines Evening, I (Cassie) had the opportunity to attend my first Nicaraguan wedding.  We were made aware of the special union two nights before (late planning, but not unusual here) and already had commitments with work.  Fortunately, I was able back out of that and attend my friend Sugey’s wedding.

I arrived at 5:45pm, the wedding celebration started at 6:00pm.  The bride and groom arrived at 6:45pm and most guests finally came around 7:30pm.  Before the celebration, the couple went to a judge to make it official.  It was a civil wedding and from what I understand, church weddings are quite different.  I couldn’t help but notice the differences between weddings from back home, so here we go.

As I waited, I hung out with the kids and took some pictures of the decorations.

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And then they arrived, here she is “walking down the aisle” with her new husband.  Her kids were waiting excitedly, in their Sunday best at the home for them to arrive.  They immediately ran up to them and walked down the road as the couple made their big arrival to their home.

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The beautiful couple!

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Her sister was the maid-of-honor.  As you can see, she was also wearing white.  That is a big no-no back home, but it must be acceptable here.











Sugey worked hard throughout the whole celebration, she was greeting guests, serving food, getting drink re-fills, etc.  When I asked her if she had gotten a chance to eat, she said no and that she was way too nervous to eat.


When the group ran out of ice, she headed down to the local pulperia.  I went along with her to help her carry the bags of ice back to the party.

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And of course, when her daughter was hungry, she took a break to breastfeed.


Finally, towards the end of the party she seemed able to relax and enjoy the celebration.  Her son played d.j. and we ended the night dancing!

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Happy Wedding Day Sugey and Oscar!  May you live a long and happy life together.

February 18, 2013

Same View, Different Modes

As I was looking out with door with my all-time favorite Nicaraguan girl Alecia,  (remember her from here, here or here) I could not help but notice all of the different modes of transportation passing.  I quickly set her down, grabbed my camera and snapped all of the following pictures in under a minute.  This truly does represent the various modes of transportation here in Nicaragua.


A gorgeous fruit stand right outside the door.


A meat truck with a helpful diagram showing the different cuts of meat.


A van, these are generally used to go between cities.  We have been in a sixteen passenger van that had thirty-nine people inside.  They get full!


A mototaxi or caponera, along with some walkers.


Some more walkers.


Another mototaxi.  These are generally found where taxis are not.  They are for shorter distances and usually cost 5 cordobas or 25 cents.


A personal car, according to the World Bank in 2010 only 57 out of 1000 people owned a car.  That is less than 6% of the population, compared to the United States, 80%.


The bicycle is often found with more than a few people hanging on.


A horse is still a common mode of transportation.  As you can see here, there are often cars and horses side by side on the street.


While this is not a mode of transportation, this young guy was pushing a dolly down the road.  Wheels, right?!?


A larger truck used for transporting goods.


A motorcycle, these are very common and also highly acquainted with accidents.  And while I know that they are dangerous, I still want one.


A biker.  This time instead of having a friend on the front, this gentlemen is carrying a large package.


Another horse and cart with Sandanista advertising (note black and red).


A sweet little boy walking and swinging his arms.


Another motorcycle, this time only with one person and a helmet.  Very rare!


A taxi and a horse.  I wonder which one is faster?


A mototaxi cruising down the road.  In India, these are called tuk tuks.  One of my friends (who will remain anonymous) once got mad at a tuk tuk driver for over charging her in an emergency medical situation, so she threw her coffee on him.  I think she could use some Conflict Transformation skills :)


A taxi.  In Managua, taxi rides can range from 20 cords to 120 cords, less than $1 up to $5 depending on where you are going.


A fancy truck.


Another mototaxi.


And a school bus.  This is route 118 here in Nicaragua and if it really is from District 207, the bus came from Maine.  Busses are never allowed to retire down here and they transfer people across the cities and into others.  We ride them daily and pay 2.5 cordobas or 10 cents per ride.

If you are interested in learning more about the wheels here in Nicaragua, check out this post from last year:  The Joys of Public Transportation

February 12, 2013

Leon Getaway

Last weekend we decided to take a trip to Leon, a town about ninety kilometers from Managua.  We had only visited once before with our Spanish tutor, a hot trip that took four hours by bus and left us with little desire to return.  But we did, and are glad that we gave it another chance.  The trip only took an hour this time, much better!

We left on Friday afternoon and made a stop for a late lunch in the town of Nagarote, which is famous for their quesillos.  A quesillo is a tortilla with cheese, pickled onions, creamy sauce and vinegar.  Add a little salt and chile it is one of our favorite Nicaraguan foods.


After our tummy’s were full, we went to the Ruins of Leon Viejo or “Old Leon” which is a UNESCO world heritage site.  While the actual ruins aren’t that spectacular, we really enjoyed learning more about the history of Nicaragua.  The views of the lake and Volcan Momotombo were also spectacular!

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As we were leaving the town of Momotombo, we noticed these signs for Accion Medica Cristiana, the organization that I (Cassie) work for two days a week.  Here is an essential medicine clinic that helps communities access necessary medications at lower costs.


We then headed up the old highway to Transito Beach.  This is a fishing town that is bringing in a lot of visitors due to its world-class surf waves.  The drive was a bit tricky with all of the pot holes, but it was worth the view at sunset.

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On Saturday, we headed out early to explore some of Leon’s Churches.  Kevin got up at 5am for mass (and difficulty sleeping in a $5 hostel), but I decided to sleep in.  We were able to climb to the top of the Cathedral which allowed for some great views of the city and the surrounding volcanoes.

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Afterwards we headed to the San Jancinto Mud Holes.  Our book recommended that we have a tour guide, so we hired the guide at the gate, a seven-year old boy.  He and his friends led us around the boiling mud holes that are nicknamed “Little Yellowstone.”  As we were checking out the holes, my feet started to sink in.  I got them out quick, but one foot was covered in the boiling mud.  It got burned pretty bad which led to some really lovely blisters.  I believe the photo is too graphic for the blog, however feel free to send us an e-mail if you want a glimpse.  There is talk of a Danish investor coming into create a source of thermal energy using these mud holes, but after our experience, we don’t plan on returning.

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We then headed up to Chichigalpa, the sugarcane capital of Nicaragua famous for their beer and rum production.  And afterwards to Chinandega, the hottest city in Nicaragua surrounded by volcanoes.  We checked out the central park, ate Chinese food in an air conditioned restaurant and headed out.

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We finished out our afternoon by hiking and exploring Cerro Negro, an active volcano that last erupted in 1999.  It was an amazing experience to walk inside a live crater and one that would never be allowed in most parts of the world.  Afterwards, we took part in what CNN named #2 on the Thrill Seeker’s Bucket List – 50 Things to Do Before you Die.  We rode down the volcano on a sheet of plywood and reached speeds of 40km per hour, I was the slowest in the group.  This was a super fun experience and we were surprised at how safe it actually was. 

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After our ride down we retired ourselves to the beach for a night of good food, restful sleep (hammocks rented for $3) and the sound of the ocean waves.  We woke up, ate some gallo pinto and went off to explore Isla Juan Venado, a mangrove forest which houses crocodiles, turtles and many rare species of birds.  We are already planning our trip back!

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