People make the world go round

August 20, 2009 at 4:46 pm Leave a comment

We were called Nicaraguans today in the hopes that we would be convinced to stay!  Everyone has been so nice that words can’t even describe it.  This entire experience has blown my mind- words and pictures can’t describe everything I have seen, heard, learned and experienced.  I will absolutely without a doubt miss this place when I leave on Thursday.  As much as I enjoyed Costa Rica, I truly consider Diriamba, Nicaragua my home away from home.  Nicaragua has so much more culture I think that Costa Rica, which is very Americanized with more tourists and Gringos.  Here, I don’t just look twice but actually stare when I see a fellow Gringo.  No wonder everyone looks at us funny here!  We have also been much more involved in the culture here as we live and work in it as just 2 Americans in a town of Nicaraguans.  The people have welcomed us with open arms.  I am so thankful!

We now have a nurse (who’s poco loca) named Martita that yells “I love you” when I walk down the halls, runs up to us and latches arms to walk down the hallways, tells us the latest phrase she learned in English which must be from an entertainment show today’s was introducing a blind date contest, and tries to teach us bad words in English.  Last Tuesday, the adorable receptionist Veronica took Rita and I out for ice cream at the Eskimo shop across town- bought us both banana sundaes which were beyond heavenly!  She sits with us, waits patiently as I ask my millions of questions (slowly because they are in Spanish of course), answers them, gets us permission into the operating room, finds people for us, and even calls all the stores in Managua for us.   Tomorrow, we are going with the other receptionist to Jinotepe to some place but we don’t know where because we can’t understand her Spanish.  We will see.  It is the thought that counts.  The anesthesiologist even asked for our email addresses.  Harold, the technician, answers all of our questions and teaches us whenever he can.  Cheyo, the maintenance man, waved to us as we passed him on his bicycle in the street!  When we were painting the wall, another maternity nurse named Ruth came in to talk to us despite the awful paint fumes to give us advice about how to best do it- aka with a roller rather than a brush.  All of the maternity nurses now know us, smile when we walk by, and try to translate Shannon into a Spanish name.  The closest they got to was Susana. “Sh” sound is not common in Spanish, so no one can say my name.  Rita is much easier.  I tried saying “Shannon like Shaquira”- didn’t help.  The women in the laundry room that wash all of the linens (some in a machine which is quite the novelty, some by hand, and all hung out to dry) say “Buenos Dias Bonitas” we walk by.   The cleaning lady and X-ray technician smile and say hi, and the ayudantes who work in the little store “pssssed” at me today as I walked by to get my attention.  We were riding the bus home from Jinotepe one evening, and the lady sitting next to me works at the hospital and just started talking to me.  When we went around asking all the nurses for info just about the hospital and their needs, everyone was very willing to talk to us.  We have not gotten to know the doctors very well as they seem to always be running around doing something and going somewhere.  Haven’t figured that out yet either since there are not many patients.  The nuns are also always busy, especially Sor Ligia, but we haven’t seen much of them in the past week or so.  And those are just the people in the hospital!

Outside in the town, there are many others too.  Beginning with my stellar family that inspires me beyond reason.  I’ll start with of course, La Doctora, as she is kinda the boss yet never around much.  She is cute, super fit (kinda intimidating when she wears a sleeveless shirt with her high heels), and walks with attitude.  She definitely knows her stuff medically and is always working hard either in the hospital or in the pharmacy or even in the house, all day every day except for Sunday.  People sometimes give me a hard time when I say that I want to have a family and practice medicine.  Heck, this lady reared a daughter as a single mother, practiced as a pediatrician, ran her own clinic and pharmacy, cared for her mother and niece, and still has time to lift weights at the gym, put make-up on, do oatmeal facials, and watch her novellas.  Talk about a role model!  No wonder she walks around like shes important!  The daughter Eulysa, I’m convinced, should be the next Ms. Nicaragua.  She is honestly just beautiful inside and out.  She is studying international business at university, hopes to learn 4 languages and travel the world.  In her spare time, she makes her own adorable jewelry and clothing.  She is just the nicest, cutest girl ever! She is super busy herself too as she is of course very popular with her friends, but she spends every afternoon and weekend working in the pharmacy with her mother.  They are very close, share a room and everything.  She calls her mother her “everything.” The grandmother is also cute. She yawns loud enough for the entire world to hear and shuffles around the house in her slippers, so I always know where she is.  She spends most of her days either in the kitchen cooking or in the chair in the living room, watching TV, sleeping, praying, or talking to her many visitors.  Every morning and evening she cooks us breakfast and dinner to which we hear “Café esta servido!”  Every time we enter the house, we know we are home when she says “Adelante, pase adelante” with a smile.  When she was younger, she cooked 500 Nacatamales (a traditional Nicaraguan dish with rice, meat, onions, peppers, cheese cooked in a leaf) a day to earn money for the family.  Incredible!  No wonder she is always feeding us!  She likes her café con leche, her block of strange white sour crumbly cheese that looks like Tofu, and crunchy bread (pan tostada) that looks like fingers.  Despite the fact that we kept trying to return the cheese to the fridge without her noticing, we appreciated her care.  We have asked for directions to cook some of the meals, but know that gallo pinto won’t be the same without her loving preparation.  She has a brother that visits multiple times a day that we call grandpa.  He took us to his farm where he grows corn, beans, and rice last Saturday.  Via motorcycle!  So fun!  He always says hi to us- no matter what, if we are walking down the street, if he has a cigarette in his mouth, or he is watching boxing on the TV.  When I was trying to salvage a rotten mango this afternoon, he went into the yard and picked some new ones from the tree.  It was literally the best mango I have every had!   Grandma also has many friends that come visit- one of which is also the cutest little thing in the world.  She also brings us mangos, guavas, and amazing hugs!  Even in the streets, she will come over to give us a hug as she lives across the corner.  She doesn’t say much as she knows we don’t understand much but makes lots of motions, such as dancing or hugging or shivering, and great high-pitched sounds.  There is also Carla, the maid, who is a small little lady with gold teeth but a nice smile none-the-less.  She is always working tirelessly hard- from the morning until the afternoon cleaning, cooking, and washing clothers.  She made us the best lunches ever!  The envy of other students with such variety as the family insisted that we come home from the hospital for lunch. Multiple times I tried to wash my own, but if she saw me, she would come up and not take them from me- even if it meant staying an hour late at work. She would just shake her finger at me, nod her head.  She then goes home and does everything over again for her 3 children and mother.  She speaks and acts with such timidity and humility- speaking only when she must, quietly, and when spoken to.  She gives a new meaning to working hard witout complaining!  (she has been doing that since she was 9- school during the day and working at night Lastly, there is Maria Feliz.  She has been our best friend here and honestly an angel to us.  Her family lives in the US, so she knows pretty good English which has been super helpful with communication and translating the other family members.  Her mother is a sister of La Doctora, but she was reared in Nicaragua in this house by the grandmother.  She is always happy!  She also knows everyone in the town!  She is the person that you want to be around and want to walk down the street with as she yells Adios to everyone we pass.  She takes us when she goes out to buy milk; she took us the first Sunday to her family birthday party; she sits with us on the front steps to talk to passers-by; she took us to church with her and let us sit on her small group; she brought us to the park; she took us with her to her cousins wedding; she introduced us to all of her bazillions of cousins and even dieing grandmother; she even took us to the beach with her boyfriend and his sister and bought us a picnic lunch and dinner.  I just can’t appreciate her enough.  She is so kind and thoughtful- a joy to be around.  She is always making us laugh and have fun- from always wanting to dance and doing it wherever even if it’s a cell phone ring, always telling the story of us “Bailando en la calle” and then telling us to dance despite the audience or situation (including the middle of church small group), watching Indian dance videos and bellydancing, scaring me by knocking at our door and hiding, yelling “Entonces Chicas!” from somewhere in the house, prank calling people’s cell phones in the other room.  She is the only one that will sit down and the table with us to eat.  She even bought and made us Flan, the desert.  When other people ate it all, the next day she bought some more and made it just for us.  She cares for everyone- even the man that she saw on the street with cancer and now invites over everyday to talk, all of her family members that she visits and talks to so often, her boyfriend of 10 years that she calls her love and wants to marry despite his past and her family’s disapproval.  What I admire most, though, is her devout faith in God.  She leads a prayer group every Monday night for women, walks around praying for the sick every Thursday night, is always talking about praying to God and asking for wisdom and strength.  As the sick man said, “Linda persona.”  She truly is beautiful. She doesn’t care that she is overweight and even jokes about it, yet tries to eat healthy and take good care of herself.  None of the past years have met her, and if she holds true to what she says, she will probably be married within the next year, so the next years might not either.  We just lucked out!

Then there are the people in the town.  Lilliam in the gym across the street- my little 5-foot tall Spanish personal trainer that I will always remember saying “Chano, Quatro y douze, quatro y douze.” The first day, I walked in expecting to just use the equipment but instead found myself doing 3 types of leg press in her kitchen while sweating profusely much to her enjoyment, then collapsing onto my bed in pain. She gave me new exercises everyday and taught me new words in Spanish everyday.  She gave me a hard time for missing a day or skipping an exercise.  She would put on more weight or add another exercise.  She became a tough coach and friend.  Her helper, the young man with big muscles and wore the “Southlake Carrol Shirt.”  The couple from Jersey that own the internet café and are relatives of Maria that invited us to their wedding despite the fact that it was just her family members in her family house with the lawyer.  The quirky gal that owns the internet café down the street that always kicks us out when it gets late and tells us to be careful as it is dangerous.  The larger lady at the libreria that told me to hold my money carefully and gave advice about paper.  The adorable Italian father from the church that was supposed to come for lunch but forgot.  Our little friend Veronica, who is 13 years old but acts like a 30 year old, coming for church prayer group but then staying to dance with us, coming the next day and doing pilates on the TV, even walking arm-in-arm proudly with us around town during the parade.  Roberto, Maria’s 36-year-old cousin who teaches English at the town’s private school and was at first I thought super nice visiting every day and asking how our day once.  Then he began asking if we had children, husbands, or boyfriends.   I began to think otherwise when he then asked when men we liked and responded to our answer about personality with “No not like that- what type of men… like Hispanic.”  The next night he asked if he could take us out on a date.  When we stopped talking to him as much or hiding when he came over, he kinda got the hint.  All the random people we ask for help on the streets for directions or advice are always willing to help out.  The mango lady that sold cut up mangos across from Pali for 5 cords or 25 cents.  Then the real mango lady that sold full mangos 12 for 6 cords at the corner by the market.  The lady that works at the smoothie place with curly hair and patiently smiles while I think what delicacy to order.

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