October 20: Birds (This happened a few weeks back, just forgot to write it in)
Warning: If your name is Steph Moore, you may want to skip this post.
It was a perfectly normal Tuesday morning for me, nothing out of the ordinary. I had woken up on time, thrown my hair up into its sopping wet twist, eaten my toast with jelly while chatting with Graciella and entered into my damp classroom. And there it was…this feathery, sticky mess hanging from the zinc roof rafters. A dead bird, stuffed to the gills with wispy white cotton. Was this a prank? Did they hold a taxidermy class while I was teaching in the other school? I looked wide-eyed at all the students, but no one was reacting, no one had the same look of disbelief that I had. My co-teacher walked in grinning, with a student at his side. “It’s good, yea?” he said to me. “What on earth is it??” I asked. He explained that it was for a science project. The student at his left had shot the bird was in the process of stuffing it to get it ready for the next class. So while I taught some nonsense about the structure of “be supposed to” to express intended activity, the student and his girlfriend continued stuffing the bird, using plastic baggies from tajada(a really tasty fried green plantain chip and salad snack) the day before and using their jackets tied around their faces against the smell. It’s moments like this that make me wonder why on earth am I teaching English. I guess so he could tell his teacher (should she speak English) “I was supposed to stuff the dead bird last night, but I didn’t have time…I was doing my English homework.”
The Inner Workings of Poverty
After much thought and deliberation, I’ve narrowed the cause of poverty here to two main things. I know, you all think you already know, but I am confident you have not thought of these two things. They are gift-giving and cell phones. Yep. First, everyone is always giving gifts and expected to give gifts, no matter the lack of money or the viability of a person liking or using a gift. Food is given often and it is considered kind of inconsiderate to go to town or to the store and not bring back something tasty. This, obviously, whittles away your wallet and makes people like me, who are cordoba counters and peso pinchers, feel uncomfortable. But I am learning to loosen up and balance the giving…plus its really nice to receive, too. And cell phones. First, it is RIDICULOUS to buy minutes here. You pay for one dollar of credit, which is 20 – 22 cords, and that only is available to you to use for two or three days. And you won’t get that much out of it because one minute uses a lot of cents. And if you are calling Movistar from Claro, forget it. Then there are the overly priced cell phones that these people buy without hesitation and often on credit. 200 to 300 DOLLARS people. Dollars. And they don’t keep them long, selling the ones they have and buying others, not gaining a profit but always spending. People here are incredulous that I have a phone without camera, video, MP3’s and it only cost me 15 dollars. They seriously don’t believe me. So I’ve decided that the way to solve Nicaragua poverty, at least here in El Crucero is to buy a monton of cell phones in the states and give them away here. And then we will all be able to buy more soda and I will have solved a developmental problem in a cultural sensitive way.
HOPE: October 20ish.
“I see hope as an attitude where everything stays open before me...daring to stay open to whatever will come to me today, tomorrow, two months from now, or a year from now--that is hope. to go fearlessly into things without knowing how they'll turn out, to keep on going, even when something doesn't work the first time, to trust in whatever you're doing--that is living with hope."
This quote knocked me off my feet when I read it in a gchat last week. Good stuff.
It´s official, I am pure Nica and able to marry. Or so they tell me. I really like fresh made tortillas and I finally asked Graciella to show me how. It´s really simple, just water and Maseca, but the art is in the palming of the tortilla on a plastic bag cut into a circle. There must be force, making the palming sound, and there must be care, creating a perfectly round tortilla. Then you must be careful when cooking it on the iron disc over the flame-leave it too long and it burns, not long enough and it will be doughy. And then there is the puffiness. After the second turn, you push on the tortilla on the iron plate and the dough puffs. Really well made tortillas will puff entirely and are a beautiful golden color. I have found I really enjoy this tortilla making and have been thoroughly embarrassed by it. All sorts of whistling and oyes! and photo taking on cameras accompanied me on my first and second tries. Now they just ask me to do it and tell me that Im pura nica because of how I make tortillas. Who knew I could become a citizen with my tortilla making skills? Someone should tell Napoleon Dynamite.