Monday, April 9, 2012

Semana Santa

"here's some chocolate, Jeff, it's good for you and it'll make your tummy feel better."

I'm not in the infirmary of a Harry Potter book, but I am lying on a cot in the Nicaraguan campo, sick to my stomach. Martha, my host mom, brings me a cup of hot pinolillo, a traditional cacao and corn drink. I ate way too much fatty pork at a celebration the day before, plus a host of other random stuff I nibbled on around town with dirty hands, which all took revenge on my stomach and intestines the next day.

I couldn't have picked a nicer place to be sick, and it was Easter week (Semana Santa) with nothing much to do but hang out. The break was a blessing though in that we had some nice bird watching on the back porch. I finally got a good look at a guardabarranco, the Nicaraguan national bird, and one of the most beautiful birds I have seen. Two were nesting in the back yard and we took a bunch of photos from my cot:
Things have dried out here a lot. The dryness crept up slowly, but most of the trees are leafless, and all the grasses are dry:
Remember what it looked like in November?
Everyone bakes for Semana Santa. They get their earthen ovens really hot with a fire inside:
And then they fill them up with corn and millet-based breads and sweets and eat them all week. I recovered from my sickness in a day and proceeded to eat lots of baked goods. It's not the Stehekin bakery, but it is fun to be around.

Then there are the jocotes, ripe and everywhere. The yellow ones are soft and sweet like a mango or a plum, the green ones are tart like an apple or a green grape:
The ugliest chick in the world contest has begun:
We did some origami with a couple kids who were visiting. Thanks for sending the paper, Mom!
We don't have a lot more interesting photos to share yet. We're working on a couple videos, but that may still be a while. For the rest of our last week, Kate also got sick, but with a cold. Not as icky as my sick, but it's lasting a lot longer, as colds do. The Saturday evening church service was fun but long. It started out with a camp fire, complete with cheesy campy songs like "head shoulders knees and toes" or the Spanish version of that. We continued into the catholic chapel with candles for the vigil. After a round of Easter-like songs, they get to "glory glory halleluiah" when they turn on the lights and turn around all the Jesus portraits on the walls, which had been turned facing the wall. Then they returned to vigil with a couple hours more of campy songs in the chapel, and we got tired of standing but had a good time.

They announced during the service that the Easter Sunday service would be at 11:00 sharp, and we'd sing more songs. It turns out that as we were walking out, the priest-in-training (they can't afford full-fledged priests in the campo), announced that he had to leave earlier and that the service would be at 8:00am instead. But it was too late, we had already left. So half of the folks in our house heard the message, and the other half didn't. Kate and I slept in, and hostfather Toño headed out to do farm work super early (or very dark, as they say here) in the morning. They couldn't get the message to him, and I guess nobody had the courage to wake up the gringos, because by the time we woke up, song was pouring out of the chapel and Toño had just arrived back, exclaiming with disappointment that the service was just ending. So that was our Easter experience here.

We spent Easter afternoon visiting with people around town, stuffing ourselves with more baked goods and even more fried pork---a few days old by then. This morning, we took the bus ride back to Managua, which apparently everybody else in Nicaragua did as well, as the bus was overpacked with part of the crowd opting to sit on top of the only bus out of the villages. The exchange to the Managua buses was terrible and squished, but we made it all in one piece. Or two pieces, the two of us. Now we have a couple more days to prepare for our last few projects and community training sessions, and then we have two more weeks of visits planned to El Jocote, and then that's the end of our work here. So things are wrapping up quickly--but not done yet, so stay tuned, as we'll hopefully post a couple last updates and stuff.

Hasta luego!

Here's a random video showing how chickens climb into the trees here


  1. those birds are beautiful! hope you're both feeling better soon.

  2. Somebody didn't knock on Wood, Sarah and Pete, because I just had a minor emergency after you posted that. Everything is fine now, knock on wood.

  3. Loved the chicken in the trees video. Wish you'd post a translation of the song CASA SINGULAR! Cute.