Wednesday, February 29, 2012


What's on the radio here? Check this song out by Mana feat. Prince Royce. It's really beautiful.

And here's a catchy one by some Brazilian guy. Hopefully it's clean because frankly, I don't know what he's's Portugese. It's EVERYWHERE here though!!

Jennifer Lopez sampled from this original Brazilian song (also in Portugese) from the '80s. I never knew it either! Warning, the video features the ORIGINAL Lambada dance which I know some might find offensive, so if you feel funny, just listen to the song which is BEAUTIFUL. I never knew I could like an accordion so much :)

Tuesday, February 28, 2012


Now that it's summer here there's all kinds of new fruits and vegetables to discover one of which is pictured above. Do you know what that is? It's nispero. Don't worry, I've never heard of it either. It looks like a kiwi but without the fur and inside it tastes like honey if honey had a solid form. I can imagine it would be good in a batido with milk. Carmen is eating an open one. You just slice it and scrape the inside out with your teeth. No seeds or anything. I got to try it because I was preaching to an older guy a couple weeks ago and mentioned I'd never seen the fruit on his tree. He told me what they were and gave me a few to try. They're delicious!

It's also mango season now. I...LOVE...MANGOES!!! They are my favorite fruit and I'm soooo excited to be in a place where they're so plentiful now. And there are so many types of mangoes. I never knew! The most common here is the mango criollo or mango indio. It's a wild mango that's yellow on the outside. It's really sweet but stringier than what I'm used to. My favorite is a type called Santa Rosa. It's like the ones at and pink. You can buy a dozen of them here for a dollar or....get a return visit with a tree. Ahem, my new Bible student, Lanis, has four, count them, FOUR trees in her yard :)


It really does seem like a fantasy land here sometimes.

This beautiful complete rainbow decided to make it's appearance immediately following our sister Kenia Cordoba's funeral. Poor thing was a young sister in my congregation who I only got to meet a couple of times due to her health. Almost exactly a year ago her leg was bothering her and when the doctors opened her to do the surgery they found raging cancer. She lost her leg and went through a bout of chemotherapy. But right around December they stopped the chemo because it just wasn't doing any good. Then the waiting game began. She was very much so at peace with the fact she was dying and had an excellent reputation in the cong. I would have liked to have known her better...she was a regular pioneer before she got sick, and many friends said she was always encouraging them to go out with her. She had a huge wake, funeral, and burial, and although I personally did not know her well, her death was hard on many people who are special to me here. That was hard to watch.

I had some new culture shocks during this experience. I've posted before about the vela or wake that was in front of my house, but I'd never gone through the WHOLE experience before. Here, they don't treat the bodies (embalm) before burial so for instance, like in Kenia's case, she died Sunday afternoon and was buried Monday afternoon. We were at her house until about 2am showing support to the family. After the talk Monday, the ENTIRE population who was at the talk followed the horse/carriage carrying her casket to the cemetery. The cemetery is on the far side of town and no shortcuts are's all the main roads in Granada. I asked someone about that reflecting how to me, it didn't seem fair to make the family/friends walk in the heat so long after their loss. They said it's tradition as this would be the person's last "look" at their fine city. Kind of poetic, huh? The cemetery was the hardest part. I was used to the US tradition of waiting until everyone leaves to do any dirty work. MAYBE they throw some dirt on the grave for show, but that's it. No, here the cemeteries are above-ground in concrete slabs that typically hold 6 caskets per slab. It's tradition here that in front of the whole group they slide the casket in and brick up/concrete up the opening as a final "sealing." That was hard to watch for me. It just was And the poor family just lost it. Kenia's sister ended up fainting and had to be taken to the hospital.

After all that it sure was nice to see that rainbow


A couple weeks ago "the poets" came to Nicaragua. That's how everyone was putting it anyway. I found out what I meant was that Granada hosts a poetry festival every year. And apparently it's pretty well-known. There's even a park near my house nicknamed "Poet's Park" because it has these small billboards featuring poems by Nicaraguans (most of them about war and revolution; did I fail to mention the park is officially named after a revolutionist??). This year they had participation from 50 countries. People come and do open mic reading their poetry in their language and then it's translated on a big screen in Central Park for everyone to understand. Now, I'm not gonna lie....I don't understand poetry. Never have, never will. I'm a reader, I promise! I also faithfully support the arts! I personally am not good at anything but I love art, music, dance etc....I've just never gotten into poetry. I was that kid in class when you studied "The Raven" that kept asking, "Are you sure it's about death? Because I just don't see it." I'm also that girl that secretly laughs inside in an "I'm so embarrassed for you right now" tone when men make romantic poems for women. So why was I excited about the Poetry Festival?? There was also folk dance and concert nights. Now THAT I can get down with! I uploaded a snippet of the folk dance for you. It was pretty.

Also, fun FYI. You know how in school they always had May Day, and we never participated because of the pagan roots? Ok, it's one thing reading about pagan roots in a history book or encyclopedia and another thing to see it up front. Here they have a folk dance called the Palo de Mayo or Maypole Dance. YouTube it. If you can't see the connection of May Day and fertility after watching that dance it's time to go to the eye doctor!

Friday, February 17, 2012


I wanted to comment on the volcano pix you'll see in the album.

The indigenous Nicaraguans thought that because of the smoke and red lava visible at night, there was an angry god living inside the volcano that needed to be appeased. How to appease him? Well, with virgins and children, of course.

Then came along the Spanish Conquistadors. In their infinite wisdom, they declared to the indigenous population that they were wrong and there was no angry god inside the volcano. Clearly, it was the mouth of hell and the Devil needed to be exorcised from the volcano. Those Spaniards were great at exorcisms, weren't they? They built the large cross on the crater rim to assist in the exorcism.

When the volcano erupted in the 1800s the lava flowed all the way to the laguna but stopped there...just short of major cities like Masaya and Nindiri. Why did it stop there? Because the residents had hauled a religious statue to the shore and stopped the lava with their prayers. The laguna has since been seen as a holy site because of this. I must not fail to mention that the laguna itself is an upside down volcano that filled with water who knows how long ago. Are we seeing a pattern here with Nicaraguans and superstition?

Monday, February 6, 2012


Now that I've been in Nicaragua for about 5 months, I feel that's earned me the right to comment on some things I've noticed here both good and bad.

1. Nose you've probably divined from the glorious clip art I've added. It should be called pick art if you ask me (ha ha ha ha). Yes, I realize I have no life. Frankly, I could write a graduate course dissertation on this subject if given the opportunity, but I will limit myself to but a few choice words. It's everywhere--male or female, Witness or worldly, old and young--there's no discrimination here. It's profound--in the "I will soon touch my brain" kind of way. It's distracting--sometimes I've literally had to pause my conversation and look away so whoever I'm speaking with can finish their very important work. And apparently ONLY bothers me. These people (ps, it is just me who sees a big whithering conceited frown in my head everytime I see or hear the words these people?) will have half their hand up their nose and can barely speak and will just continue with whatever they're doing like it's no one's business. There is no shame in this digging game.
2. Double dipping...basically everything here is communal. For example, in the KH, each bathroom only has one glass. That's the glass everyone uses to drink from if they get thirsty. It's common that in the house people will eat directly from whatever dish we're serving from rather than put it on their own plate. Or they'll use a dirty fork to dish up seconds. I can't even tell you how many times in service people have asked to drink out of my water bottle. Now, I'm no germaphobe, but I have my limits, you know?
3. Cheese....first of all, anything dairy here is called crema or cream. It doesn't matter if it's half and half, whipping cream, sour's all cream. That makes it super easy when I'm shopping to cook as you can well imagine. I also hate that all the cheese here is the same. Now, ask any Nicaraguan and they'll list off a bunch of different types of cheeses making you think there's a grand variety. It's a lie. It's all white, hard, and salty. Real cheese here is incredibly expensive. Once I sprung for some nice sharp cheddar to get a break and shared it with my Nica family. You know they had the nerve to tell me they didn't like it and it made their stomach hurt?? This leads me to my next gripe...
4. Condiments...if I hear one more time "this hurt my stomach because it had too many condiments," I'm really going to hurt someone. So lemme get this straight. You can eat food that has cream and meat that's been sitting on the counter for 24 hours straight, but more than 3 ingredients in something gives you the runs?! This leads me to my next gripe...
5. Refrigerator...they exist for a reason, and that reason, simply put, is to keep things cold. So please tell me why every morning when I wake up our fridge is disconnected? By the way, this is a common practice and not just a "my household" kinda thing. Your alternate option is to buy a fridge but keep it eternally on the lowest/hottest setting possible. The excuse is always the same..."but everything's still cold." If I thought it would help to lecture about the specific (cold) temperature certain dairy and meat needs to have to ward off small pests like oh, I don't know, SALMONELLA or E COLI!! I would do it. However, something tells me I'm not going to get very far on that.

Whew! That felt good. Now, on a positive note...

1. Neighbors...for the first time in my life I know my neighbors and actually like them. Every neighborhood here is like an extended family, and it's actually really nice. Sometimes it really costs me to break outta my "I'm a single white female and you're probably going to try to kill me" fears and talk to strangers outside of preaching times. But it's really worth it here. They know me, I know them, they look out for me, they let me use their oven and pans when I want to make a cake, they want to meet my family when they visit. It's nice. It's like a block party from those cheesy '70s movies...I finally know what that's like.
2. Frescos...literally this means refreshments. Basically you take any fruit and/or vegetable, squeeze or blend it, strain it, add sugar and water, and you've got a fresco. Every family makes their own combos and by the way, they are ALL delicious. Pineapple and carrot, pitahaya and beet juice, tamarind and cinnamon, passion fruit, yum!!! And the best part? I can make it myself!
3. Volcanos...never in my life did I think that every morning when I took Ollie out I'd see a volcano. Forget living in a country where there are 6 within a 3 hour ride. They seriously fascinate me. All of them are on the Pacific coastline, and a brother recently told me that scientists think that at one time, Nicaragua's western coast was the lake. But then all the volcanos erupted and created land between the lake and the ocean forming all the large lakes near where I live. Kinda cool, huh?
4. Nails...this is super vain, I know. But I love getting my nails done regularly and for so cheap! Plus the sister in my house, Carmen, does these great drawings on the nails. It's really like art. She did a whole scene once with a beach with the water and sand and a palm tree and a whale tail in the ocean. She's done owls, rabbits with carrots, cherries--she's a genius, I tell you, a genius!
5. Pulperias...that's what they call corner stores. Except the difference is that EVERY corner has one. I just love that chips and flour and bananas and Coke are always just a few steps away. Especially since I don't have a car and am incredibly lazy :)