Hello, everyone -
Three weeks down, two to go. What a three weeks it has been! First, here’s an update on the group’s recreational and cultural activities.
Last Tuesday was the big national holiday, Día de la Revolución. Sam, Brie, and I courageously boarded a government-provided free bus at La Solidaridad with William and other community members. The bus was packed far beyond maximum capacity. Hot and sweaty, it took us about three hours to get to Managua, a drive that normally takes less than an hour. We went alongside many other buses, most similarly crowded.
We were met by a huge crowd and loud music. We had to shove our way through in order to get anywhere but remarkably we were able to weave through the mass of people fairly quickly. Sometimes we lost sight of William and the others from La Solidaridad but he always stopped to wait for us. The celebration commemorates the day that the Sandinistas took Managua from the Samozas, the family that ruled as dictators from 1937 to 1979. The Sandinistas lost the presidency in 1990 but regained it in 2006 and the celebration doubled as a political rally and many of the people carried red and black FSLN (in English, Sandinista National Liberation Front) flags. I was only slightly uneasy; the United States had supported the Samozas and actively opposed the revolution. We were told that we would be fine and that our biggest worry would be losing our valuables to thieves. Also, we were with the locals from La Solidaridad and they were always keeping their eyes on us.
We seemed to miss seeing most of the speakers, which included President Daniel Ortega and officials from other Latin American countries like Cuba. William took us to see some cultural buildings in Plaza de la Revolución including the Catedral de Santiago and the Palacia Nacional de la Cultura.
Our project has been going great. Yesterday we finished with the roofs in La Solidaridad and, by my estimate, we were able to replace or partially replace the roofs of about thirty houses. It was quite an experience. Every day was a little different with the only constants being meeting new people and hauling zinc sheets from the community center to the work sites. The people aspect has been the most interesting for me because my poor (but slowly improving) Spanish has made a lot of my communication non-verbal. Still, I feel that I’ve gotten to know William, who meets us everyday in front of his house and usually sticks around at the work site. He’s a strong, just, and charismatic leader with a sense of humor and friendly personality. Also, we roughhoused with some of the kids one day and now one of them always catches my eye and grins mischievously when we pass each other like he’s planning a surprise attack. I don’t know his name; it’s difficult to learn names here because they are either pronounced differently than or totally foreign to English. Language barriers aside, I always felt welcomed in the community and, as Felicia noted, they were always watching out for us. We should be back soon to fill in a troublesome flooded road.
We lost Felicia and Nicole last tuesday when they returned to the United States. Now we´re down to five. Today we started our next project which involves improving a well in a rural community, but I´ll let the next blogger write about that.
Thanks for reading!