Sunday, July 15, 2007

Nicaragua: the path from Chacocente to the highway

I would like to explain why I commute two hours to the Project and two hours back.

When I got picked up from the airport on January 9th, I asked the driver, ¨Where are you taking me?¨ He took me to the Tellez-Romero house in Sabana Grande, home of my host family; Pablo, Janet, Isaac and Belén. It turns out that the US preschool volunteer before me had stayed with them and raved about them. They knew Ted Andersen. They were connected with Mission of Peace, a Methodist youth project out of the Eastern Jurisdiction. They were friends with Charito. All these connections made them trustworthy in a country where I knew exactly zero people, and that counted for a lot.

Then I bonded with the family. They were my first friends. They were the home I was most familiar with and the first place I belonged. So when I got an offer to move in with the first grade teacher who lived an hour nearer to the school, I turned it down. I was overwhelmed, wanted consistency, and needed to live with the family whom my US friends could vouch for.

Instead of moving out, I compromised by starting to spend two nights a week closer by: on Monday nights I stay with one of the families in the Project, rotating families each week; and on Wednesday nights I stay with Yamileth, the first grade teacher in my same school. That cut down my weekly commute by 40%. :)

It is only now, six months after moving here, that I am ready to start spending more nights near the Project. I´m going to experiment with where and how much. I´ve gotten pretty close to my Wednesday night host family, and I trust them and feel comfortable with them and love them. So we´ll see.

The first five photos are more or less a panorama of my view of Chacocente from the edge of it as I´m leaving in the afternoon. There are a lot of other farmers whose property separates Chacocente from the highway, but there are little private roads for horse-drawn carts or motorcycles or, in our case, bicycles. Every afternoon I bike through Chacocente from the school to the edge of the property, and this is the view I have just before ducking under the barbed wire to bike through other folks´ farms. You can see the four houses that are farthest away from the school. On clear days you can see the school over on the far hill. That is my bike.

These photos were also taken in February, in the dry season. Soon I will put up photos from now, the rainy season. It´s changed a lot; the fields are all full of baby corn, beans, yuca, plantains, and some vegetables. I think it´s a lot prettier now, but we have had to revise our route as sections of the path got ploughed up to be planted. It is very, very hard to walk through newly ploughed soil.

The next two photos are of other parts of the path. The last shot is one I took just to show how much the landscape reminded me of pictures of African desert.

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