Published: June 4th 2006May 30th 2006
Church on the hill
This is the little Catholic Church where Mayelis´ grandparents´ 50th anniversary was held.
Unfortunately I haven´t been able to write recently, due to a combination of the fact that I have (for once!) been extremely busy with work, and the fact that the power keeps going out! Blackouts here are an ever-present problem. This issue lends itself to an interesting debate over the privatization of formerly public services, such as power (privatized) and water (soon to be privatized, if the Neoliberals get their way). In theory privatization means that as "consumers" we can chose between companies, and use our buisness as a means of leverage to encourage inter-company competition and to secure the best prices. In practice, however, the industry is dominated by a single company, and if you don´t like it then too bad. And since it is no longer a public service, people´s democratic voices as citizens don´t weigh in. It constitutes a total loss of contol over a vital service: just think how dreadful it will be if the same thing happens to the provision of water! Already here we have had many issues with water, not having had running water for 6 days on end in our neighborhood. Fortunatley this was due to a burst watermain, not water-privatization, but for
The (glowing?) Bride & Groom
This is a pic of Mayelis´ grandparents, dressed as bride and groom in order to re-take their vows on the 50th wedding anniversary. Aww!
me the impact was the same-- water is something you don´t think about until it´s not there-- water privatization must be avoided at all costs!!!
May 30th was Mothers day here in Nicaragua. I didn´t quite understand the significance[i/] of this fact until the day itself-- I couldn´t understand why everyone was making such a big deal about it. "Don´t you celebrate Mothers Day in Canada?", they would ask me, "Well yes, we do," I would reply, "But generally we just give a card, maybe a kiss on the cheek, make dinner, and that´s about it." They were surprised, "That´s all?", they asked. Because, as I soon learned, Mothers day is a VERY big deal here! A co-worker named Carlos invited me to spend Mothers Day with his family, to see first hand what the fuss is all about. To start with, it´s a public holiday, so nobody works... At least in theory. In reality, as carlos and I drove his moterccle to his house, the streets were crammed with shoppers, and I have never seen the market so crowded! he shook his head, "So commercialized", he lamented, "Christmas too. Too much consumerism". I was surprised-- busy, yes, but
comparing Mothers day to Christmas still seemed a bit far fetched to me...until I arrived at his house...
Outside the church: me, Mayelis, and a baby cow! Veal, anyone? (Kidding! for those who don´t know, I don´t eat red meat...) See what i mean about the MUD..Lovely on my sandled toes. The cow-pat is especially nice.....
The entire family had gathered in the house and surrounding yard--maybe 30 people in all. ("Too bad only half the family could come", Carlos sighed. "You mean this isn´t all of you?!" I asked, incredulous. "O no!", he laughed, "When we´re all together, there´s well over 100 of us".) Carlos alone is one of 11 siblings. And this is not unusual for Nicaraguan families. Anyway, after being offered some traditional food, the gift giving ceremony began: we all gathered around in a circle outside, with various Mothers, Grandmothers, Aunts and Grand-Aunts seated in the middle. Then each child (or anyone who had brought a present) would stand and make a brief speech ("This gift isn´t much, but it comes from the heart. I want to thank you for being the best Mother I could wish for..."), after which everyone claps and the gift is handed to the respective woman. This alone took about half an hour, with even little children presenting something small to their Mothers. Then the unwrapping: each woman opens her gift, among a lot of "ooh"-ing and "ahh"-ing,
as gift bags reveal their treasure of towels, dishcloths, a microwave, a blender, and other suitably motherly presents.
This was an interseting fruit growing outside the Church...no one seemed to know what it was, or if it´s edible, although apparently it´s called "Hickory".
For such a poor society, the extavogance is really something else (although I was aware that Carlos family is definately respecively well-off, as I glanced a computer in the living room--a luxury I have yet to see in any other home). The main attraction was when the Matriarch of the family was blindfolded, as the men rushed to carry in her present-- a brand new bed and boxspring set-- hoisted on their shoulders! They then pushed her onto it, while everyone laughed and clapped. Very fun! Now I understand why it´s such a big deal: it really IS just like Christmas!!
Another interesting event I attended was the "Golden" (ie. 50th) Wedding Anniversary of my co-worker, Mayelis´ grandparents. We took a cab out to a colonia bout an hour away, and then trecked up a muddy hill to a little Catholic Church perched on top. The building itself was not nearly so resplendant as the Mexican Churches I´ve seen, but it had a quient, home-grown Nicaraguan feel to it that made it endearing. A blend of local and imported religious
culture, with stray dogs randomly romaing in and out, and terrible Mariachi music playing from an automatic button on the keyboard (the exact same beat used for every song, regardless of the tune, and the people singing with a completely difefrent rhythem altogether-making for a wonderful medley of out-of-tune & out-of-sync music.) But I loved it! If only they had printed words, so that I could have sung along...But apparently everyone knows every song off by heart. And, I reflected, many of them likely can´t read anyway...Once again I was shocked at the scale of Nicaraguan families: the Church was packed, people spilling outside, as family members crammed in to get a view. I very much enjoyed the service: much more loving (and less yelling) than the dreadful, Westernized Evangelical Churches I´ve visited so far. It has made me think that I will attend the Catholic Church this week, as it seems by far the best option...I´ll let u know how that goes!
Mothers Day at Carlos´ house
Here we are, all gathered outside to watch the gift-giving to the various women of the family...
There are more photos below