Wednesday, July 8, 2009

A Day in the Life

I’m not sure where the time has flown to, but it’s been a month since my last blog! May and June seem like forever ago! Life has been a grand mix of many activities and travels. I’m not sure where to begin!

I’m including photos of my new ‘dwelling, hermitage, cocoon, postinia,’ so you can see where I lay my head at night. I’m grateful for the private space and so is Julie with whom I shared sleeping and living space, prior. Photos of the ‘southern belles’ working with the Nica folks in the post-construction cleanup process (explained later) are also included.

We’ve had several groups passing through Cantera for an ‘experience’ of Nicaragua. Many of these folks come from the States, Europe or Canada … and so the English speakers accompany them and fill in the blanks provided by Spanish words. A group of young women “newly graduated from high school” just returned to Baton Rouge, Louisiana, and the Canadian visitors from a Catholic support group, “Development and Peace”, are in their second week with us. A group of youth from Milwaukee will be arriving this weekend. I have to admit that I get in on a few perks when I’m with such people. One of them is to ride in a mini-bus instead of a pick-up truck! At times, there are special meals or a new place to visit! And it’s always good to meet new friends and have conversations on many topics.

One experience with the gals from Baton Rouge was a ‘day in the campo’. The rural youth and the city youth spent the day together. They shared with each other about their lives, plans and dreams. Needless to say it was a revelation to the Louisiana group! They all helped clean up the local “nearly completed” chapel and surrounding area which was tough work in the beating sun, but they did a good job. They played and sang and danced and had a great time. In spite of the language barrier they communicated well! On the way back we had a horrendous rain storm and….the gals were in the back of the two pickups! They were smart and piled their shoes in the back seat with yours truly so that they were drenched also. However being INSIDE provided me with the “odor” of 24 athletic shoes!! They got drenched and muddied but were good sports…happy but tired and glad to take showers and get into dry clothes once we arrived back at home base. All in a day of life in Nicaragua!!

I’m still involved in the rural visits and work with women’s groups but at the same time I’m writing proposals and reports and translating those that are being sent to Scotland, Ireland, Canada, US, etc. I learn quite a bit by doing so. Some of our folks have had some training in English and so they do a “rough” draft before I get the product to ‘polish’. Of course, on the internet you have translation helps, but sometimes it’s downright comical. I was working on English subtitles for a video about a pre-school in a very poor area which is supported by a group from California. My friend, Marcelino, who does a wonderful job with graphics, videos, bulletins, posters, pamphlets…you name it….had translated ‘refrigerio’ (mid-morning or afternoon snack) as ‘nibble’. The statement was something like, “We provide a generous ….. for the youth so they are encouraged to return each day to the Center for the help they need..” ‘Nibble’ didn’t quite do it; ’snack’ was a better choice! I told Marcelino that ‘nibble’ is what rabbits do when they eat and they take very, very small bites! We had a good laugh. I find myself wondering what the Nicas hear me say as I use a ‘close, but no cigar’ word in Spanish!!! Keeps me humble and real!

Two weeks after I returned to Nicaragua I had an appointment with a recommended orthopedist at Hospital Militar. They took 2 x-rays (both on the same piece of film..very creative as they fit nicely!) and he pronounced the wonderful words, “You can take the boot off. Just be careful!” So as of June 5th I’ve been “bootless”! All is well ‘down there’ and I’m grateful for a body that heals quickly and well.

Another experience was spending 2 days in Leon at the University learning about the process of drying fruits, vegetables, herbs, etc. We have several “secadores”, basically wooden cabinets with ‘fittings’ of solar panels and conductors of hot air for the drying process. We are working on having this as a possible micro-industry along with the production of honey and related products which is already in place.

Among other activities, we had an enjoyable celebration on the Feast of the Sacred Heart at the home of our friends, Mexican Religious of the Sacred Heart, and celebrated a 30th wedding anniversary of a couple from Baltimore (relatives of one of the St. Agnes Sisters) in Spanish, translated by guess who! I was conscripted to do so at the last minute without my permission! It was alright, but I find formal, immediate translation not my greatest gift!!

We have the SKYPE process down now so our monthly meetings as a Renewed Local Community involve not only hearing but also “seeing” each other. Another mode of communication that is now in place is Microsoft Live which we can use for meetings and gatherings between distant places. Modern technology is great…except when it develops ‘a mind of its own’!! I really appreciate being able to communicate freely and quickly with friends and family and am not quite sure how I survived during those 11+ years in Peru without it! I know, it was another era (1983-1995), AND I was younger, but ….

Well, I’ve gone on for long enough. Thanks for being interested and listening! Thanks also for your prayers and support and donations for us here in Nica land. It is all greatly appreciated – more than you can realize!

Your sister, Jeanne