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Published: November 3rd 2008
would you like some fauna with that coffee?
this is when i stopped for a pancake breakfast at Hotel Villa Paraiso, on the sandy isthmus of Ometepe, on my way to a Conference held by Flora and Fauna International about their preservation and monitering of the flora and fauna on the island - what a preview! And the owner fo the hotel, Sonia, gave me the breakfast for free to boot!
Happy (belated) Halloween! Feliz dia de brujas!
Happy Day of the Dead! (today, November 2)
Happy almost election day!
If you missed it, here is my most recent column article in the Bainbridge Review:
For my english conversation group this week I bought I pumpkin and we carved it together (well, i mostly carved it, struggling, as they watched - the pumpkin skin is thicker down here!) I have lit it nightly since Wednesday and it is so entertaining to watch all the people come by, some brave enough to come up close and touch it to see if it truly is what they think it is. Dora said that during the high school assembly this week the principal warned all the students to not partake in anything related to Halloween because it is a holiday about the devil... hmm... maybe she saw my calabaza (pumpkin) and got a little spooked? My friend Joanna said there was a Peace Corp volunteer in north Nicaragua that carved pumpkins with a group of kids, and a couple days later there were flyers posted all over town advertising a special mass to pray for her soul and save her from the
October Review Article
Thanks to Mom, you can see a scanned copy of the real deal, not just the internet link!
devil 😉 Nonetheless, Joanna and I braved the odd looks and lit up the pumpkin and passed out candy to the kids of Dora´s family and a few other brave souls. The lady that lives across the street, Doña Elida, lived for 8 or 10 years in Los Angeles, CA so she was excited to see my pumpkin and chat about her days in the states.
For the Day of the Dead (Nov 2) (All Souls Day), most families go up to the cemetary and clean up the graves of their loved ones, placing flowers and crate paper flower displays on the crosses and tombs. It isn´t as much of a big ¨to do¨ as in Mexico, where they make altars, sweet bread, sugar skulls, and stay up all night in vigil to the dead, but it was nice to see the cemetary all colorful and well kept.
In other celebration news, things are gearing up for the Patron Saint festival- Saint Diego. You'll read more in my next article, so I don't want to spoil you with all the details now. But I can tell you that there is just a lot of anticipation in the air,
Nature Reserve control point
This is one of the projects that Flora and Fauna Intl completed with the help of the Fundacion Entre Volcanes (The Foundation between Volcanoes). It is a checkpoint for the nature reserve area of the inactive volcano side of the island - to make sure that no one is taking rare species of animals or plants from the reserve, and to also, inevitably, charge foreign visitors an entry fee.
celebrating with food, music, parades, religious ceremony, etc.
Also, the local elections are on November 9th so both the conservative party (PLC) and the progressive-socialist party (FSLN) have been busy. For example, one weekend the PLC handed out baseball caps and felt cowboy hats and picked up everyone for in the back of trucks for a caravan ride all the way to Altagracia and a party. On Wednesday, the FSLN party had a contest to give away bicycles. Unfortunately President Ortega is not going to allow election observers into the country to make sure the elections are democratic. There has also been some major "witch hunts" on the part of the government in terms of investigating and accusing various NGOs of money laundering. This has kind of freaked me out a little bit, and somewhat crushed my idealist vision of Ortega, being a leader of the people from the bottom-up. La Prensa, the national newspaper often publishes political cartoons depicting Ortega as a power-hungry dictator. The new slogan of the PLC candidates for mayor is "Everyone against Ortega!". Hmmm.. well, its awesome that my education in Latin American Politics continues, I am constantly learning from the people, the news,
and everything going on around me.
In other news, I made my first trip off the island at the beginning of October! I first went to Rivas with my friend Joanna to go to an Obama party that our friend Erik (another peace corp volunteer) organized. The slogan was "¡Obamanos!" (Obama us!). It was you average American summer barbeque - but an odd scene for Rivas with all these white people in one place, eating hot dogs, and decorating Obama signs! We all sat and watched Obama youtube videos we had downloaded from his site, and had a little chat about it all. I talked about the Obama Unite for Change potluck I had a week before I left for Nicaragua. I had posted the event on the Obama website and expected at least 20 or so people - and 115 people came! It was awesome, because didnt even know about 90% of them! Shows what a little grassroots organizing campaign can do, and one that will probably outlast the elections, no matter what happens... 😊
After Rivas, I headed to the coast of Nicaragua to a place called Playa del Coco, then San Jose del Sur. It
More Independence Day !
Independence Day was September 15th, and I had this front seat view to the whole parade, on my front step! All the schools on this side of the island come to march in Altagracia with their school band. The students with the best grades get to march in front with a special sash.
was refreshing to smell the sea and have a change of scenery. Unfortunately my trip ended with a very exhausting, hectic day crossing and recrossing the Costa Rica border to renew my visa and then purchasing 50 books in Rivas for a library project, all of which with a high fever, congestion, and a cough. Yuck!
That same day, on my way back on the ferry, I heard that there had been 3 mudslides on the island, near Urbaite. I was really spooked by the news and called Dora immediately to confirm. I found out that none of the mudslides hit populated areas, and that the public transport was still going, because the buses, being high off the ground, were still able to pass through the area. Thank God no one was hurt! I had such a pit in my stomach after passing over the mudslide in the bus that night - over 300 meters of gravel, boulders, and dirt covered the road about 2 or 3 feet deep. October is the rainiest month of the year, but mudslides are definitely not the norm.... hmm, maybe this has something do with the fact that the Gulf of Mexico waters
Independence day dancers
These preschool kids did a traditional folklore dance at the end of the parade.
have heated up with global warming, causing an abnormally high number of tropical storms and hurricanes...
Well the rain hasn´t hurt me much, other than falling on my bed through the leaks in the roof when it comes down really strong - I honestly slept a few nights with pots and pans in my bed to catch the leaks! Other than that it has actually been very positive for me and my garden, because I have so much rain water from my rain water catchment system, I can wash my dishes, my clothes, and water the plants practically for free! Our water bill last month was 9 cordobas - about 50 cents!!!! (down from about 200 average)
Ok, enough tangents now, I will leave you with all these images that can tell my story better than my crazy English-Spanish brain!
Hey, and if you have a free minute right now, send me an email or post a comment - I want to know what is going on in YOUR world too!!
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