Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Snippets of Life in Nica

Here are some random snippets of life in Nica...¡Disfruta! (Enjoy!)

Jeff and Bethany at the little waterfall in the El Chocoyero Nature Reserve.

"How Pineapples Grow" (I, Bethany, was totally amazed by this...for some reason I thought they grew in trees...which really doesn't make sense.)

Ella enjoying the beach at San Juan del Sur. Ella simply loves the beach.

One of the many painted walls here in the city. Some of the artwork (and grafitti) is really beautiful!

Why facepainting is not a good idea in a tropical climate.

This horse was tied up and waiting for its owner just outside our gate.

"Moto taxis" are very popular. We joke and call them "moto-motos" (Have you seen Madagascar II?)

This baby iguana was a good sport and so was Andrew! By the way, this is our yard--NOT some crazy zoo program!

The Spanish School in the city where Jeff and I attempt to learn Spanish.

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Where is the A/C

While most of North America is probably enjoying temperate - Spring weather, we are just getting into the hottest part of the dry season here in Nicaragua. When we lived in the States, Bethany and I would always hold out as long as we could before we would turn on the A/C in the summer. Invariably a day would come that was just too hot, and we would look at each other and say "it's time". Well today was that day here. It was 104 degrees in the shade, and the sun was intense because we are much closer to the equator. So, we both looked at each other and said "it's time". That was at about 10:00 this morning and it is now 5:30 pm. We have been looking all day for the thermostat or the air conditioner unit. We can't find either one. We can't find any air registers or signs of ventilation ducting. It as if this house does not have an HVAC system. I guess we will have to suffer one night here without A/C, but tomorrow I am going to ask the landlord to show me where this inconspicuous HVAC system is hiding. There has to be one...Right?

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

5 Stop Shopping

We recently had to refill some of our fuel tanks that we use for cooking. This was our first Nicaraguan Propane-Filling Experience. "Firsts" here are always an adventure!

We drove to the refinery on the outskirt of the city. As I (Jeff) parked I noticed two things: 1) There was a prominent sign in the parking lot that seemed important, but it was in Spanish so I glossed over it and 2) The smell of natural gas hit me like a ton of bricks when I opened the car door. As soon as I had parked, a guard ran up to me and explained what the sign was trying to tell me. I was supposed to back the car into the parking space so that in the event of a catastrophic explosion, I would be able to exit more quickly. Now I have seen enough "guy" movies to know that if this refinery explodes, I will barely have enough time to kiss my wife goodbye, let alone exit the refinery in an orderly and efficient manner. I didn't have enough Spanish to argue my point, so I happily re-parked correctly... facing out in case of an explosion.

So, with my car safely parked, I was told to go to a desk to place my order (stop #1). I tell the man that I want to buy two tanks of propane. He writes out a slip of paper and tells me to take it the nearby window with a hole in it (not 2 feet from the first stop). I give this man the paper (stop #2) and he generates a print-out of my order, and tells me to take it to the neighboring window with a hole in it. I pass my paper through the hole in window number 2 (stop #3) and here I finally get the opportunity to pay someone...I feel like I have accomplished something! Without any direction from there, I wander back to stop #2 and he tells me to give the receipt from stop #3 to the man at stop #1, who is actually at my right elbow. Without taking a step, I turn 90 degrees to the right and give him my receipt (this is now stop #4...same as stop #1 if you are following). Now I have proof that I have paid and I can get the tanks filled (stop #5).

As I proudly walk back to the car with my full tanks, I see the man from stop #1 and #4 (one in the same) yelling and waving for my attention. He apologetically comes to me and says that a mistake was made between steps #1 and #2. He had written down that I had wanted 2 tanks, but the man who made the printed invoice (from stop #2) had only typed 'one' tank. So now I needed to pay for the other tank. With a smile on my face and a chuckle in my heart, I say with my Spanish mouth "no hay falla" (no problem) while I think in my English mind "you have got to be kidding me"! So back to stops 2-4...this time I had a free pass to skip #1 because he verbally told the guy in #2 what I wanted.

I hope you remeber this story the next time you fill a propane tank, and it makes you laugh. It made me laugh.

Vine, vi, vencí (I came, I saw, I conquered)

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Begging for a Choice

Let me start with this disclaimer: the following musings are still "in process".

There are many people that "beg" at our car windows as we drive through the city. Some are small children, some are disabled adults. There are a few children that we see on a regular basis because of where we drive and live. We recently received some free nutritional drink products and prayerfully decided that we would give some of these products to one of the little kids that we see every day on one particular street corner. The first time we gave him a pouch of this "food", he was very thankful; yet, the second time he seemed disappointed that it was the same food. I thought, rather non-compassionately, "well, beggers can't be choosers." Yet, I started thinking about this particular cliche.

Is the freedom of choice just a slogan of American freedom? Is it a societal right to be able to choose? Going deeper, is the desire for choice wrong and selfish? OR, is the freedom of choice a God-given freedom? In the account of Adam and Eve, they were indeed given the ability (and freedom) to choose: choose obedience (in not accepting the forbidden fruit) or choose disobedience (in accepting the fruit that the serpent offered). The ability and freedom of choice existed from the beginning...God created it. And so, in our fallen world where the ideal was destroyed by the choice of disobedience: can there be a "poverty of choice"?

Like I said, I am still thinking, wrestling and praying through this issue. Thanks for reading my musings. I'll continue to blog as I continue to process. --Bethany

here is the "famous" street corner that we pass everyday

Monday, March 14, 2011

Good Eatin' with Good Friends

This past Saturday, we drove out to a town called Catarina. We visited some new friends that we met this summer in Pennsylvania (it was good to see you David and Linda). They are here in Nica for a week with a short-term veterinary team. They are staying with a Nicaraguan family whom we met 2 years ago when we first visited Nicaragua. We stayed for dinner and got to experience the delicious-ness of Nicaraguan fried enchiladas. WOW! Super-yummy! Our friends from the States also brought with them a gift from their son and daughter-in-law (thanks Bill and Kelly) which included Tastykakes (a Philadelphia specialty). That was some serious delicious-ness also (which we are currently still enjoying)!!!!

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Día de la Mujer

Yesterday, Nicaragua celebrated Día de la Mujer. March 8th is International Women's Day. I didn't know this...did you? International Women's Day originated as a socialist political event 100 years ago; and apparently, in 1977 the UN declared March 8th as a day of Women's Rights and International Peace. Regardless, in a country where the "machismo" culture is still is somewhat interesting that this day is observed. May there be true appreciation for the women of Nicaragua, women created in the image of God.

The kids celebrated at school. Andrew had to bring an extra snack to share with one of the girls in the class. Noah brought me home a little paper flower.

And, to all the women reading this...¡Feliz Día de la Mujer!...may you know that you are loved by God, your Creator.

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Ants--An Excuse for Shoe Shopping?

So not only have the ants attacked our pancake mix as you may have read in the last post...but there is a particular variety of ant that is mean to me. I (Bethany) have the uncanny ability of smashing their homes with my flip-flopped foot. Okay, fine, maybe they are not so much mean, as they are defensive. So, when I smash their home, they attack my feet. Unfortunately, I must be allergic to these ants because my stricken foot swells up (it swells more over time...and lasts a few days)!!! I am SO NOT LIKING these ants! Can I use this as an excuse to go shoe shopping...I think I need some closed toe/cover-the-foot shoes.

And what is has swelled more since I took this picture.
And if you can't tell, it is the right foot.

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Ants or Almonds?

Our kids enjoy the weekly tradition of having pancakes for dinner; it is a nice break from rice and beans. However, we found ants in the flour this evening . What to do? Well, we picked out the ants as best as we could, but because the ants were so small there was no way to be sure that we got them all out. In addition to this, Bethany added finely chopped almonds to the pancakes. It worked out great. Every time we would get a crucnhy bite of pancake, we would just think "huh, that was an almond". So, the next time you have an unknown quantity or type of insect in your food, just add nuts. Every crunch will be a good one.

These leaf cutter ants were not the ants in the food, but they are dramatic to look at.