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the end

July 22, 2011

we left nicaragua yesterday morning, which is sad. but we’re home! which is exciting. i think it is safe to say we all found ourselves especially appreciative of the kindness of nicaraguans after experiencing the, well, unkindness of some of the u.s. customs officials we met in houston! they have a very stressful job, i reminded myself. they’re so mean! said ruby. but we made it through either way.
i wish we had sent some more updates toward the end, but everything got so busy, my computer was on strike (it’s back to work!), time was moving too fast. but it was a wonderful and crazy last week or so.
me, i taught those english classes i mentioned earlier. notably, to a pediatrician in her 30’s who lived in town, who was so nice and so interesting. she works in a public hospital and in the evenings attends patients out of her home. every night i was there, people were coming by to see her, to get checked out, to see when they should come back, to thank her, to bring her gifts or payment. (one father brought her a chicken–a live chicken. “soup!” said her sister with a big smile as she carried it toward the kitchen.) we got along really well, i gave her pep talks about her english and she gave me pep talks about nursing, we exchanged contact info, and she told me to come back to nicaragua soon so i can go on rounds with her at the hospital. it was great! also, that last week, one of my most favorite spanish teachers, richard, turned in to one of my most favorite english students, every morning at 7 am. in spanish, he was so dry and funny and always had me laughing, our classes were about 75% laughing at life’s absurdities, the other 25% mostly talking about politics or telling ghost stories. it was fun to do the same in english! well, minus the ghost stories.
the best part of the week…and there were lots…was our last day, the 19th of july, the anniversary of the sandinista revolution. i woke up to fireworks and a marching band at 6 a.m., with goosebumps, wondering what it was like to be in nicaragua that day in 1979, which i had been hearing so much about in these past weeks, and then suddenly wondering what it was like to be in egypt this past spring. at breakfast, our host mom, rosa, was telling me how when the sandinistas finally took over the government palace on july 19th in 1979, folks came from all over nicaragua, almost everyone, by caravan, and entered managua–the capital–to celebrate. so every year since, the nicaraguan people have made this symbolic journey to managua to converge in honor of the day they finally forced the somoza dictatorship out of power. in la concha, they had rented 20 school buses, plus everyone came in their trucks, and microbuses, and motorcycles. some students and staff and family rode in the mariposa truck, with most of us piled in the back. ruby was smart and brought her camera, and took some amazing photos…which yet again will have to wait. we waited for probably an hour for the whole la concha caravan to converge, and then headed toward managua. it was one of the coolest experiences i’ve had in my life. people, mostly young people, piled on top of the school buses, hanging off the backs, brass bands in the backs of pickups, families on motorcycles, crowds of people along the side of the roads, radios blaring, everyone waving flags, screaming, smiling as if heaven has dawned on earth. and driving into managua, the caravan began to multiply by hundreds. then everyone heads to the plaza on foot, to eat and drink and watch fireworks and sing and dance and listen to daniel ortega speak. then drive back home. rosa told me the next morning it was the biggest 20 de julio ever: an estimated 600,000 in managua. it was so so so fun and i felt so so lucky to be there, for what ended up for us being the best going away party i could imagine.
and now, for something radically different: pics! not of managua, but still.

oscar, the 3 year old grandson in our homestay, who was head-over-heels in love with alice, on july 19th. he has cake all over his face and as you can see is supporting daniel ortega for president this term!

counter-clockwise from left: danilo, alice, rosa, and augusto sandino (on mule)

some of the family members at the home where alice and i stayed: neli, karen, rosa, oscar, josue, danilo

me and my teacher/student/friend richard at la mariposa our last morning

oh and btw, in addition to being incredibly interesting, smart and kind, danilo is also the cutest man ever: "ok, now please take a picture of me with my dog."

alice and krissy, the mariposa's wonderful intern and our friend. krissy is so excited because alice just gave krissy her zebra pants. alice is excited because she told krissy they would fit, and krissy didn't believe her. but they do!

ruby with favorite teacher and close confidant, kinema. can't know all that went on in their "conversation" classes, but i do know that one day ruby managed to drag a very confidential first-love confessional out of kinema, that involved lots of laughing, yelling, and ruby at one point running out of the classroom screaming "what's cavanga?!" (in nicaragua, anyway, it's more or less what happens when you get really wasted after getting dumped by someone you really like.)

alice with small man jeremy, a mariposa student. jeremy should be in his spanish class but prefers playing with alice instead.

ruby takin pics on the flight from h-town to mpls

almost home.


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  1. Welcome home, Betsy, Ruby, and Alice!! I hope you will post Alice’s photos of the Managua celebration. Fingers crossed for Ortega’s reelection.

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