I expected a bigger blast of hot, humid air when I stepped out of the airport onto the streets of Managua. I was slightly disappointed that it didn’t create a lasting impression like it had in the past but none the less I was happy to see Mike, who was there to pick Matt and I up. He took us to a host family for two nights in Managua. It was difficult understanding and speaking Spanish until today, two weeks into my trip. Something just clicked and today I had a good conversation with Frank, a young man who is going to the university. I met Frank on top of the bell tower of a church here in Granada. Today, I also had a tour guide explain a few trips to me and he talked for five minutes and I understood almost everything he was saying. It is awesome to be able to know what people are saying and be able to partially respond.
It helps that I spent a week in La Paz de Carazo where my host family never leaves me alone and is always wanting to talk. I learned so much from them over the last week. I had stayed with them in the past but I knew much less Spanish then. This time around I was actually able to talk about politics here in Nicaragua with Johana, my host mom, this morning while she was cooking my breakfast over the fire. I really enjoy spending time with this family because they take me in like one of their own kids. Willian had me help him put a roof on a building, Johanna had me plucking and gutting chickens for lunch, Grandma had me digging holes for plants, and I got to go with Jessica, a 12 year old girl, her aunt and uncle Willian and Johana to cut down about 20 banana trees for out food. To get the bananas we took the horse with a cart on the back across a field to their banana plantation. It was fun cutting the trees down with a machete.
Mike had a group he took here to La Paz and I helped shovel cow manure for a day to be used for biogas stoves and fertilizer. I also went with them to see a natural healer and wine maker. Two bottles cost me 35 cords each, about a dollar fifty. It is a great desert wine made from all local products with the main flavor being hibiscus. It was interesting to watch him preform a examination on three of my friends, and prescribe herbal remedy. He would touch a part of the patients body and touch both forefingers to thumbs to create a link similar to a metal chain. He would pull them apart and if the link would break, something was wrong with the part of the body he touched. Then he would say different plants that could cure the problem and when the finger link would break, that was the medicine he prescribed. Then to determine the quantity the person should take he would say different numbers and when the link broke, that’s the amount the person needs to take. There was a lot of laughing going on and one woman who was told she had to take a pepper extract for five days because she had a problem with her ovaries said that she didn’t believe but looked a little worried after the diagnosis.
It has been a great trip this far and I am sad to leave La Paz but it’s exciting to be traveling solo again. Off to Granada in the morning with two weeks to go in my trip.