News from Nicaragua – April Edition 2013
Hola Family and Friends,
Can’t believe I am coming to the end of my first contiguous three months here in NI. Yes, I will fly back to the US on the 15th for four weeks.
Life in Ni is definitely not for the weak in any culture. For those of you who have interest in Nicaraugense culture, read the book Blood of Brothers by Stephen Kinzer who was a NY Times correspondent and lived here through the 1970s, 1980s, 1990s and has insights published up to 2007. I read the book with a map at my side and know of many of the places he speaks of and some of the people as well—at least the families.
At the moment, we—everyone in all areas—are praying for rain. I spoke six weeks ago about digging our well deeper. Well, the compound has an almost dry well once again. This morning, a tractor arrived pulling a water tank with water from the closest river that I cross enroute to Rancho Santana. Fortunately, the senior family members here brought me two five gallon buckets last night so I could at least flush the toilet once and wash my few dishes. I used my bottled water for teeth brushing and spit bathed my face and body with the bucket water. Since this is also the hottest time of the year AND fortunately the wind is blowing—which creates dust and dirt that you wouldn’t believe—but it keeps the temperature tolerable. I haven’t turned off the three fans in my house for a week.
I have had a couple of very interesting occurrences since the last episode of news. First I have applied for NI residency. I had a driver for my car, took my friend Carol Dorsett, and spent two days in Managua for this process and to attend the first opening of an all NI women’s art show at one of the Cultural Centers Mujers de Arte. The art show was exciting to me. I met several of the artists, introduced to me by my friend and NI “sister”, Ana Zavala.
The residency process was less fun. Although I had all my papers, thanks to my daughter Leah for obtaining them—health report from Kaiser, police report from W. Sac police, birth certificate—American Embassy authenticated the documents for $50 and couldn’t answer any of my questions. We are paying taxes for this! Anyway day two we went to the Immigration for Extranjeros and found that my papers were “falta”, called Ana who met me at Immigration, found the problems and off we went to three more agencies. Long story short, I hired an attorney, known to Ana and whose brother in Rancho Santana is a friend of mine. The attorney recommended that I apply for residency as an investor rather than a retiree because retirees cannot work in country. So hopefully I will have my interview for residency sometime after I return to NI in May. Then I can apply for a business license and start the caregiving program. This lesson learned is most valuable as I could be fined severely in the future for any work income.
My most treasured success, however, is that nine of the kids from this compound are all going to Una Escuelita an NGO afterschool program not too far down the trail across the road from the house or a bit farther if you travel on the real road. None of the kids—four, ages 5 and 6; five, ages 11 and 12—had ever been to Una Escuelita. The program is for two hours and begins with 30 minutes of helping with homework, then art projects, games and songs. For the first week, the parents agreed to have the littlest ones go via Tug Tug (mototaxi) each family paying 15 cordobas a day ($0.63), the older kids would walk the trail. I walked the trail with one of the parents—Adalain, the community social coordinator for Limón Dos—to see how difficult it might be. Tug Tug didn’t work out too well. The driver forgot to pick the kids up from here and then from Una Escuelita. I had to rescue them from the school twice. So this past week, the parents agreed to allow the little kids to walk with the older ones along the trail. I have talked to the older ones about caring for the niños enroute. Yesterday was the first day of this process and it went well. Since each day is a new adventure here, I hold my breath that the positive events are repeated. I still have to round up all the kids starting about noon to make sure they remember that they are going. Many of their parents work so the kids are left to fend for themselves with oversight by the compound teenagers and Don and Doña Guzmán.(Now me too.)
This week, the teenagers who sit under the trees by the pulpería in the evening where it is cool, asked me if I would help them learn English. So for the past two nights I am also sitting with them and they are learning to say some simple phrases and count in English. Last night there were eight boys and girls. A couple of them are nearly 20 years old and very interested. So I am learning my Spanish better to teach English.
I need to stop now since it is almost time to begin rounding up the kids—this takes about 30 minutes to make sure everyone has on shoes, a shirt, and has their bolsa—backpack.