Day 1: I boarded my plane and sat next to miguel angel. What a great guy! We talked for two hours. He is 31 and from Mexico - works for Mava, a company which works in conjunction with GE. He was in louisville for 10 days so we had a lot to talk about, and he was thoroughly interested in my trip because he wants to get his Ph.D studying poverty in developing countries. We conversed half the time in Spanish, which was a great comfort to me upon entering Nicaragua. I then had a two hour layover in Houston and boarded the 747 to Managua.
Again I made friends with my fellow row mate, an old man from Nicaragua, named Juan, who was traveling to visit his family. He works in Nebraska most of the year and travels home once in a while to experience his old life and relax with his family. I wouldn't doubt it if he had fought in the revolution. I didn't have the guts to ask about it.
The flight was great. I talked to Juan in Spanish for a while, which was quite difficult because his Spanish was really slurred and difficult to understand. He said my accent was fine and should be great once i spend some time in his country. The weather was a bit shaky, but it was incredible to watch the lightning show from right next door! The sky was gorgeous and it was awesome to watch the storm as if I were in an imax theater.
We waited in line through immigration and went to baggage claim....I waited and waited, but I recognized no bags! I am currently without my luggage and will hopefully get them later. We are off to Estali tomorrow morning, and Lillian (she runs the quaker house) is going to the airport tomorrow to get them and will bring them to me on Monday. Esteli is about two and half hours from Managua.
The country is great in terms of culture, but it reminds me a lot of the 9th ward in terms of poverty. There are very few green spaces in Managua, and the places that are green are only in existence because they in the spaces of destroyed buildings, which were annihilated by the 1972 earthquake. 10,000 people died from the quake and the center of the city was destroyed. This is currently one of the reasons why Managua is so dysfunctional, it has a poverty stricken, non-existent center.
Day 2: It is hard to sleep when it is 80 degrees, but I am sure I will get acclimated soon. Air conditioning is something I have taken for granted! Dina and I sat out on the patio during breakfast and soaked up a few minutes of sun while eating. It was delightful to breathe in the fresh, warm air and feel my pale skin absorbing some Vitamin D. all of us then drove about twenty minutes to the bus station to depart for Estali.
Estali is much prettier than Managua. There is a significantly smaller presence of trash and many of the houses are in better shape, and provide more imaginable living conditions. Although, there are very distinct parts of Estali which are awful, we have yet to visit them. I am becoming better at navigating 3rd world cities without street names as we speak. It is all about landmarks...which may seem obvious but at first it is second nature. No Washington street, no 1st Avenue?
We met with Doñamina at the Galleria for Heroes and Martyrs, a museum which is a tribute to the brave and patriotic men and women who died for the Sandinistas during the years of the Nicaraguan revolution. It was she who marched us around Estali to our homestay families. Francisca is my homestay "mother" and boy is she fascinating! Three of her five children live in the US. I have come to know her whole family relation to Doñamina, who lost two of her sons to the war.
Nicaraguans are friendly and kind, the children smile a lot, and the country is dying for attention. So many of people have the potential to succeed, but haven´t been taught how. There is too much to be done and not enough help. Only time and energy will tell in this country. I am only glad to be a part of it for a time and have the opportunity to interact with children that need attention.