Lauren´s mom again, probably for the last time during this trip. Writing her blog has been great for both of us; for me because I get to share this experience with everyone without emailing. And for Lauren as it clears her busy schedule a bit for devoting to her projects here. Emailing for me is quite time consuming, I have to use my yahoo handle, as AOL is virtually inoperable. Try to imagine waiting an hour to log on and then 15 minutes per click. It´s a mystery to me why all other ISPs are so fast while AOL is so inept, I might get rid of it all together after I get home.
Anyway Lauren asked me to try to list the 10 biggest differences of life here as it compares to life in the states. So here goes:
The water in her village is turned on every other day from 7am to about noon. During that time, we fill up all of her water containers in the house. She has 2 large tubs under her kitchen sink, 2 large tubs in her shower, and a large cement sistern (pila)in the back yard, here she does her laundry.
Yesterday she hired 3 neighborhood kids to come and clean it out after the water was turned on. It was a riot. The kids had to undress down to their underwear, get in, dive for the bottom until they unplugged the drain. Then they splashed in the cool water and had a great time of it, laughing and giggling. (I snapped their pics) Once emptied they scrubbed it all out, then refilled it. The pila tank in about 4 feet high and a rectangular shape of maybe 4 feet by 6 feet. A fun pool for any kids but I think the water was a little colder than other times of the year.
The dry days in between, we use the stored water for all our needs. Showering requires using buckets of water, (part of it we heat on the propane stove and mix with the cool water supply), and using pitchers to manually flush toilets. Needless to sy I will have a whole new appreciation of the abundance of water, hot or cold, and drinkable...when I return home.
I should also mention that her drinking water is completely set apart...she buys purified water a couple times a week in a 5 gallon jug.
2) paved roads
Only the main streets of the bigger cities and towns are paved, the rest of the streets are packed dirt or cobblestone. Lauren´s home is on the main street of Dulce Nombre so her frontage is cobblestone...but just 2 blocks down the street the dirt roads begin. In the states we take this very much for granted, we expect all the streets and roads everywhere to be up to par or we complain. Here there is no one to complain to....it is the way here.
3) the kids
The children here are quite bit different from the kids in the stats as a whole. They are quiet, attentive and respectful when adults are present. They are so appreciative of any little thing you give them or do for them. Of course when it´s just them and their friends, they act every bit the child, you can hear them laughing and playing from morning until night. They are so friendly and sweet, they stop by all the time just to say hi.
The way it works here is that all the little villages have buses which the locals use to go back and forth to the ´big cities´and to other little towns. For the most part these are yellow schoolbuses, obtained from the states, sometimes PC volunteers can still see their counties printed on the sides of them. The local buses run every hour and are so reliable you can set your watch by them. Once in the bigger cities, travel anywhere in the country is supplied by the largr charter type buses and are equally reliable. Within the towns, people travel in the back of pick up trucks, horseback or mostly on foot.
Here, Lauren, like most people shop daily for perishables, and meals are not planned or shopped for in advance like we are accustomed to doing in the states. I miss having the luxury of a refrigerator but Lauren has adapted well and enjoys doing it this way.
That´s the first 5 things, the other 5 I will cover in the next blog, because I want to mention our trip to Siquatepeque.
Last weekend, Lauren and I took the local bus to Santa Rosa, from there we took a large bus for the 5 hour trip to Siquatepeque. The bus ride was a little uncomfortable for my stomach but once we arrived, we spent the weekend with her original host family and it was such a delightful visit, it made the trip worthwhile. It was also nice seeing another city, they all have their special spots, this one had a nice central park with picturesque fountains and unique UFO type dome structure in the center. The family we stayed with were wonderful, as so many of the folks here, they treat you like honored guests. It is their way, and every comfort is given.
On the way back, Lauren and I decided to spend the night at a nice hotel in Santa Rosa and actually went to the movies to see the newest ´Harry Potter´movie (in sweet English!!) (with popcorn and everything!) :) Also dinner that night was Chinese food as good as you can have anywhere in the world. It was a spectacular weekend.
The week following was filled too....once back here in Dulce Nombre, we nearly completed the mural. The health center ´won´the privilege of having the mural and they chose a Winnie the Pooh scene of Piglet receiving an inoculation. They wanted something that would help remove the fear for kids of getting injections, so we made Tigger the nurse. :) I wish I could put it on my web site but since Disney is copywrited, I will just send it to some of you in email.
We also spent a day visiting the coffee farm of another host family here Lauren stayed after arriving here in Dulce Nombre. It was an adventure. Carmen (the owner) invited us last week and I didn´t think it was something that I wanted to do at first, but then the truck arrived and off we went. The climb up the mountain was a little harrowing because the roads are narrow, rough and carved on the sides of steep slopes. But I figured if the locals do it everyday, I was sure to make it too. ;) Anyway, once there, Carmen showed me the process and machinery they use to shell the coffee beans , and spread them over a cement platform to dry in the sun. She showed us what the best beans look like, the beans are red when picked (by the workers) then the beans inside are white after being shelled by the machine. The roasting is what makes them the rich dark brown we are all accustomed to.
There we were, all sweeping and raking the beans into a large pile to gather into bags. Each bag is 200 pounds and we collected about 6. then Carmen served us all a wonderful hot stew made ithg chicken and tropical veggies, which she served with rice and soft drinks. What an experience.
Carmen and her family have a lovely home here in Dulce Nombre, but they stay on the rustic farm, where there is no electricity, during coffee season, which is October to March, only going home on Sundays for the most part. Still she said many times what a blessing her life was there, she loves working and growing the coffee , the planting and harvesting, she says it gives her much peace.
OK I will do one more entry after this, on the next 5 things, and will be going home in less than 2 weeks.