Blog 28 of May
Wow so it’s been a while since I last posted and while I haven’t been doing too much the country has been quite active. I know some of you are reading other peoples blogs so you have heard the news… There was a transportation strike for over 12 days throughout the ENTIRE country. So what does this mean? There were absolutely no busses or taxis traveling throughout the entire country. I could not leave my site for the entire 12 days, VERY boring, and most of the commercialization throughout the country was slowed to a crawl. This caused prices for everything to skyrocket and inevitable some upset people. The reason for the strike as I understand it is the drivers wanted a cap on the price of gas and also an increase in the gas credit that they receive.
Well as I’m sure you can imagine in a situation like this there was some rioting. Though as you remember I live in the middle of nowhere, with only two trucks, thus if I had no inclination to leave the community I wouldn’t have noticed the strike at all. However, as I was itching to get out of town the days wore on. But back to the rioting, it was mostly between the drivers and the police and rarely was violent; I believe it only reached violence two days. There was however some property damage, burning tires and other junk in the streets. It did make some big news though when they burned a couple of big rigs. That was some exciting news down here.
Anyway the strike is over now, ended the 17th of May, and most things are back to normal in the country. There are some rumors that the government is slow to put in their side of the bargain and thus there is a threat of another strike. But, so far this has not happened. It was interesting sitting here going through this. Just one year ago I was sitting in Richmond, VA with my car waiting outside to take me wherever I wanted to go. Often time I drove the 100 meter walk to my work, have I mentioned I am lazy? However, during this past two weeks to reach a real grocery store or internet I would have had to walk at least 4 hrs. Oh and I was quite tempted to do this. To think of all the differences that I am experiencing and I am only a three hour plane ride from the states.
So what did I do during the time in my site? I had plenty of time to study Spanish, to start projects in the community or to go meet the community members I haven’t really met yet. All great ideas, however, great ideas are not always achieved. Nope, instead boredom struck and I spend most of the time in my hammock and read a couple books in English. Unfortunately I did not have the computer the previous volunteer left me. I loaned it out to someone who said they had a school project, instead they took it to their girlfriend’s house 30 minutes from here. Then when their motorcycle got a hole in the tire they decided to walk back….without the computer. Thus no movies or playing the one game this computer has. But it was good because it put me behind in work and thus has got me working hard again this past week and a half.
I have started working on the soccer field more frequently. Let me clarify this, when I say I am working on the field I am not calling the local landscapers to come out and take care of it. I am actually out there raking the rocks, carrying the bigger rocks, making a fence. This work is tough and so far I haven’t had much help from the little kids in the community and the older ones are planting beans right now. Thus it is quite the slow process. However it’s forming some biceps and causing pain in areas I haven’t used since my glorious football days. I worked on the field two days the past week and had to slow down after I got a blister on my left hand. So I will take a couple days off and then get back to work after that.
Also, I have been pushing a larger project using biogas to cook with. With this project you build a box type structure using bricks and cement. Inside of this, mix cow waste and water to create methane gas. Cover with a special elastic type plastic that expand and collects the gas, which is perfect for cooking. Just pipe it into the oven and you can cook all day. This project could be very successful for many reasons. One the community will dramatically cut down the exploitation of trees for firewood, thus saving the environment. Second, the community will be cleaning up the street and other places that are covered in fecal matter, thus helping with community health. Third and one of the most important things, when you cook with wood there is an extraordinary amount of smoke. With methane there is none, thus cleaner lungs and less asthma. Thus a great project to push and I have had some great interest sparked throughout the meetings I have had.
Other projects, Saturday I had scheduled another cooking class. However, as with all meetings the presence of rain, or even threat of rain, can end any meeting. Thus I was left cooking by myself. I had a great menu planned, mango jelly and cough syrup. The mango jelly is great because there are a bunch of mangoes in the community. Thus the community can make some jelly and eat with the tortilla for breakfast, or possibly sell in the town. The cough syrup was more because people are constantly asking me if I have any cough syrup. Thus it was an opportunity for them to make it themselves without spending much money. I ended up making it on my own and made a half gallon and spent only $0.75. It is quite simple to make, essentially boil water with various leaves, garlic and cinnamon and then mix in sugar. The leaves have various vitamins which help speed up recovery time. So my plan is to give away the stuff that I made and hopefully it will work and inspire them to make it themselves.
Well like I mentioned earlier the beans are being planted as we speak. It has actually been a nervous period for many of the families here. Many were scared they were going to lose the crop they have planted. See the farmers have two options, get a head start and anticipate the rains and plant when the soil is dry or wait for the rains and then plant afterwards. Well in my town everyone plants dry, however this year the rains are extremely late, almost two weeks late. Luckily we had huge rains two of the past three days and it appears the beans will be good to go. However, if we had to wait another three or four days many people think the beans would have been lost and they would have had to plant a second time. So we don’t know for sure but it looks like we got lucky and everything will be alright.
Now to the exciting news, I have decided I am definitely getting a horse. It is not a matter of if, now it is just when… This though has been quite the developing story. See I finally decided about two weeks ago that it was a go on getting the horse. The first volunteer in my site had a horse, thus I was planning on doing everything the same as here. My plan was to use the same person to buy the horse and keep it in their farm land. Well after waiting a week, the person used the entire week to get wasted everyday, I decided I didn’t want to wait any longer. Thus I decided to ask the family that I stayed with my first month in town to purchase and store the horse. This actually works out better as their farm land is closer to my house and thus I don’t need to climb a mountain just to get my horse. Thus I talked to the father of the family, Pablo, and we worked everything out and he’s in the process of searching for the horse.
The plan is that I am going to buy the horse and the saddle and then keep it on his land. Thus he will be in charge of feeding it and all that. Then when I leave, I will give the horse and the saddle to him as a going away present. So far I have purchased the saddle and all the riding gear, just waiting on the horse. Being that gringos (Americans) get charged almost double the cost of thing, I ended up giving Pablo the money to purchase the saddle. I figured this was easier anyway because I know absolutely nothing about saddles and because I am going to give it to him anyways he would have a better eye for a good saddle. Thus I have a beautiful black saddle with a blue riding blanket, like I said just waiting on the horse.
So what does it cost to own a horse? Well depends on how big of a horse you want. Being that I am well built American, this means I am HUGE for Nicaragua. Thus, I need a big horse. Also, the trails that I will be riding have a roughly 80% incline thus I need a strong horse for this as well. First option was a horse on the small side, thus I turned it down. However, it was being sold for $150. In recent talks with Pablo we have decided that $175 to $200 should be enough to purchase a horse big enough for me. The saddle, spurs and various other ropes needed to ride the horse ended up costing a little over $75. Overall $275 will be my maximum costs, now tell me you can find a horse in the US for about that much money. Also, with Pablo feeding the horse I should only have minimal costs for vaccines and other small things.
******* Extra Special Critters Update
I just killed my first snake. Yup that’s right I killed my first snake. It was an epic and dangerous battle. I went out to my latrine, aka my closest tree, and sitting right there was a HUGE snake, like anaconda huge. I’m talking like 16 feet, and before I knew it, the darn thing was biting my ankle and we were in an all out wrestling match. I was gasping for air and fighting off its rib crunching squeeze. For a couple seconds it had the upper hand, until I poked it in the eye. As I was yelling for help I looked to my left and luckily there was a machete there. I grabbed the machete and I managed to cut it, and when it whenced in pain I managed to grab the head and take control. We rolled around in the mud for another five minutes before I managed to cut its head off. I was lucky and escaped fine, just a couple broken ribs and a nasty cut on my ankle.
Okay so I might have exaggerated a little bit, just a tiny bit. In actuality it was a two foot garden snake and I killed it with two rocks to the head. But it’s not the most fun thing to have to go to the bathroom and fight a snake first. So much for thinking that I might escape Nicaragua without seeing a snake up-close. I have seen snakes before but they were always eight feet away or more and running from me. I almost couldn’t believe my eyes as it was not running away. So now I’m just hoping this isn’t the start of the snake adventure. I killed like 4 scorpions and 3 tarantulas in my first three months here and then hadn’t seen either for over three months. That was until I just killed a HUGE scorpion a week ago. So yeah I’m hoping this wont be the snake killing month.