Friday, December 7, 2012

Nicaragua Part IV: Friday & Saturday!

I have much more of this trip to record and share!  I always struggle to get down everything I want to remember after the fact is a week or more behind me, so I hope I can do this justice.


On Friday we got up bright and early to make tortillas with the host family madre.  We really only learned to shape and cook them, but it was still a cool experience.  We ate breakfast (a egg pancake thing on the tortilla and fresh plantains)  with our little group of three and then headed to the end of the road to meet the bus so we could get everyone from their homes.  Leaving the home I stayed at, I merely wished there was more interaction between us and the host-family.  I know we didn't all speak Spanish, but we had one with the ability to translate (Marilee), and it would have been nice.  I'm sure it was a respect thing (perhaps a bit of a comfort thing as well), but I think you REALLY find out about a person's living situation and life/opinions from talking with them.  It was interesting also how we never saw the father figure in the home.  Regardless, we were thankful for all they did for us. As we walked to meet the bus, I noted what a beautiful morning was around us. I took some time to just relish in the beauty of the hills and plant-life around me... It's amazing how you can see the hand of God wherever you are in the world.  Tender mercies.

After picking everyone up we headed back to the city of Matagalpa for a short stop at a local cathedral (Parraoula San Pedro Apostol – Catedral) and park in the city so we could see a bit of a different city.  We were only there for about 20 minutes and then had to get back on the bus and then headed out to a dry-mill for the coffee production process.  We got to walk around the mill and see just how it's taken care of all the way to packaging - drying, raking, setting, roasting, and even tasting to see what flavors are good enough to be sold.  It was really cool, but took a bit longer than anticipated or appreciated.  So many people were not feeling well that day and we were all hot and feeling pretty nasty - really we were in need of showers.  Haha!

After the drive back to Managua, we checked back into our original hotel and had time to freshen up and grab lunch.  We were really excited about both of those things - haha!  Honestly, I was straight-up starvin', but also in dire need of refreshing... It was a toss up to see which would win out, but food won.

We grabbed our travel bags and headed over to the University for a lecture from a Jesuit Priest named Father Fernando Cardenal.  He was involved in the revolution of Nicaragua in the 1970's and the literacy campaign there in the 1980's.  None of us were particularly looking forward to this lecture and many of us even jokingly debated way to ditch without being noticed. First, that would have been impossible.  Second, it would have been HIGHLY regretted... For MANY of us on the trip, this lecture was our favorite part of the stay in Nicaragua.  It was life-changing, and rejuvenating... I felt so amazingly moved educationally, spiritually, personally... I made goals for myself while sitting there and listening to him lecture.  I took notes and basked in his presence.  It's truly remarkable how one indvidual and his life could have such an impact on another human being, not to mention the entire group of us MAT students.

Following the lecture, we headed out to grab dinner at a local, authentic Nicaraguan restaurant called Cocina de Dina Haydee.  It was pretty bomb!  We ordered drinks, appetizers, main courses, and desserts, and stuffed ourselves silly.  We were all sharing, so it wasn't as much as it sounded... but it was still a lot!  Haha...  I had some appetizer with Indio Vejio (Jacob from freshman year served his mission there and suggested I try that out) which was fabulous, and a sampler of many different things.... Then, there was the tres leche.  TO. DIE. FOR.  Seriously - incredible.

A group of us felt the need to work off all that food after, so we went dancing at a local disco techa.  Haha!  It was awesome... It was smokey and there were dirty videos on the screens, which was NOT my thing, but the music was reggaton and we had a good time dancing.  Something that was odd - none of the guys made moves on us really, but they would stare at us and pretty much eye-rape us as we danced.... kinda creepy.  I kept hearing them say, "gringas, gringas....," but would just creepily check us out.  That was pretty ICK too....

We only stayed for about an hour when half the group decided to go onto another club, and the rest of us grabbed a cab to head home.  Turns out we had gotten into an illegal cab... Good thing someone was watching out for us, because that would have been pretty bad.  We got home safe though and decided to call it a night.  I stayed up to read and blog a bit, but let me tell you... I was ZONKED!


Saturday was a lot of fun in that it was more the sight-seeing part of our trip.  We hopped on the bus bright and early, had a different guide for the day, and headed first to a local grocery market.  It's pretty similar to our Smith's or Macey's... but we all got to try some new treats and grab some things to take home for treats.  Then, we headed to Masaya Volcano National Park.  It's a live volcano (though simmering and not exploding) we could go around to see and take pictures.  It was neat... no more on that.  Haha!

Our next stop was the Masaya Craft Marketplace... I could have used more time there - haha!  It was a shopping dream.  Hand-made crafts and for very little money - I was loving it!  Haha... I went around with Laura (Cami and Katelyn were with us some of the time) and she helped me when I was struggling to understand Spanish, but I felt I was doing alright with talking to people and bartering.  I didn't do a ton of bartering because I know that this market is where these people make their money and stuff was already pretty inexpensive.  I mostly waited for people to lower the prices themselves as I stood there long enough looking. :)  It was fine by me if they wanted to go lower, and then I was able to knock of three or four dollars on the big items.  I found a beautiful white stone nativity and an elephant in the same stone (I try to get an elephant from every country I go to), and got a carved and hand-painted mask for my theater classroom. It was fun... I must admit, I do love shopping.

We hit up a local "buffet" for lunch, where some older guys came and played our table a song on the marimba.  It was beautiful and a total highlight for me - I love music.  It just makes me happy to see others use the gift of music... It's the true universal language.

Post-lunch we headed to the city Granada, the oldest known European settlement that still exists today, were we saw some of the city center, a beautiful Catholic cathedral, and took an amazing boat ride on Nicaragua Lake.  We went around the islands (thoughts to be exactly 365 of them) on that HUGE lake - second biggest in the bottom hemisphere - and saw gorgeous homes, amazing plant-life and views, and even stumbled across monkey island.  YES - monkey island.  This is a place where a vet placed 12 monkeys to live in the "wild" safely.... incredible.  Don't believe me?  See the video below for proof... Yep.

We headed back to the hotel afterward and got dinner, chilled, and just had a good night back at the hotel... Katie and I had a good chat in our room about life - rooming with her was great cause she's so easy to talk with about anything.  I never feel like I can't ask her something or bring up any topic.  It's fabulous... :)

I'll have to write about the last day later... For now, this little girl has to get some sleep.  It seems I may (or may not) have contracted a tape-worm or some stomach illness post-trip.  Yep - yuck.  Silver lining: I'm down seven pounds!  Yippee!  Haha.... I'm almost to my Germany weight.  BOOM.

Song of the Day: Cheesy song award goes to the following song.... but I adore it!  Here is One Direction with "They Don't Know About Us," off their newest album.  I love the whole album - no lie.  Enjoy!

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