Unstable times

Now it has been some days that I have not written anything. Since we are in the winter and the rain and thunder is constantly roaring, a lightening fried my Internet connection and computer and that has slowed everything down for me. I am trying to reinstall things but things take time here, and you have to be patient. So now I am back to visiting a local café where there is a good connection.

Since it is raining so much my house is constantly visited by animals that are looking for warm and dry places to hide. I have had several scorpions visiting lately. So I have to wear shoes always when I walk inside the house at night. The scorpions are not very poisonous, but it hurts when they sting. SoBirds in the mangrove forest now we are waiting for the summer and dry season to come. At the end of November we have hopes for dry weather.

I wanted to tell you about superstition in this country. It is still a strong element in society. Witchcraft is something that still is practiced and people believe firmly in this. If you have an enemy someone might throw a spell at you and you may be sick.  My maid told me that her mother fell sick because someone threw her a spell. She is convinced that it is the logical explanation to her illness. She did not die, but was hospitalized for quite some time. All this is mixed with a fear for the punishment of god if you misbehave. I will give you an example.  There is a rule here that women should shower in the morning and not in the afternoon. Why? Well, when you shower you smell of perfume and that might be provoking wrong signals to the male part of the population. In the morning everyone go to work and nothing is suspicious. In the afternoon however, you might be calling for attention, and that is not good. Relationships between men and women are strictly ruled by unwritten laws in the society.

Well back to superstition. Last night something strange happened to me. But before I go into details about what happened, I must say that alcohol abuse is a problem to some people. On the other hand there is a strong wave of evangelists in the village and it is like these two extremes try to survive side by side. And strangely enough they manage very well. People tend to accept each other for the flaws and mistakes they make, evangelist or not. So when something happens like what happened yesterday they stay by each other no matter what.

I had gone to bed early, like you often do here. There is nothing much going on after nine o´clock in the evening. And then suddenly I woke up by the telephone ringing. Since I was asleep, I had no idea of what time it was, and phone calls at night startle me a lot. But I answered and on the other end of the line was a friend of mine, who was desperate telling me that his mother was dying, if I could take her to the hospital. Having no idea what time it was I was a bit reluctant, but I soon saw that I had been sleeping for just one hour. So I said yes of course, got up and dressed, took my car out and was about to put the woman in my car when I realized that she was very drunk. And looking a bit closer not even that drunk either. But she was rather aggressive, because she said that the devil was coming to take her. She had not been eating a lot and been drinking heavily a bad liquor that is very cheap. You can perhaps guess the quality of the drink.  Anyway, she refused to get into the car, and we took her to my house for some strong coffee, and during this short time a lot of women with their bible in hand had gathered around her. They started to chant and read from the holy book, and pray for her health. After a couple of cups of coffee she seemed to recover a bit, and then she started to wonder why she had gotten so drunk. It must be the devil that was punishing her because she had not brought a present for a wedding she had attended the day before, she said. My friend was afraid for his mother, but angry with her also for getting so drunk.  What amazed me was how strongly she believed that the devil had been coming to get her, and that she was being punished for misbehaving. She did not even start to think that the bad conscience she had might be what she thought was the devil.

This morning she came by the house to excuse herself but she was all right.   She had expected me to judge her, but I said that she was the one with a problem not me, and she was happy for my understanding.

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Out Fishing!

Saturday

Today I was woken by the phone ringing at 5.30 am. A fisherman friend called me and said that the waves were small and that I had to hurry if I wanted to go fishing with his fishing crew this morning. Since that is one of my favorite activities, I jumped out of bed and hurried down to the estuary where all the fishing boats are. To go deep sea fishing we have to cross out through the waves into the Pacific. That is always a bit scary, but this morning everything went well. I have had some wet experiences in the past, with waves splashing into the boat. So you have to be prepared and put everything away that cannot get wet.

To describe what is happening you have to be patient. In the picture you can see the boat we go out with. The boys around the boat are waiting for the fishing boats coming in with their catch, and they start to clean the fish. This way they earn their food every day. The pay is a fish for the family; either they sell it or the cook the fish so they have food for the day. The sun is shining strongly and you need clothes on to protect yourself. For these guys it is extremely important to do that since they go out fishing every day.
Normal departure time is six in the morning. We stay out four hours and return about ten. This is because the fish bites in the morning, and when we approach 9.30, there is a notable difference, and the fish stops biting. So then it is time to surf back to the estuary and the beach to clean fish and arrange the equipment. You can see the bay in the picture, and this varies according to tide. High tide is what you see here, and on low tide it is dry land, with sand. Today we had high tide.

We had fishing luck today. The catch was about 100 pounds of fish. I am not sure what these types of fish are called in English, but in Spanish they are called “urel”, “macarela” and tuna. The macarela looks like the European macrel, but it is white in the flesh. The urel is big with dark flesh and makes noises when it gets on board. You either fry or cook the fish, and it tastes deliciously.

But the most exiting of it all is the stay out there. It is like entering a fairy tale world. In the background on land you see the row of volcanoes from “La Cocigüina” in the north to the Momotombo in the south. Suddenly you see a couple of turtles mating in the water, or dolphins swimming in front of the boat hunting the same fish that we are fishing. And then you see huge carpets of small fish, and you know that under this carpet there are some big ones lurking. All of this is entering my senses like a dreamy world.
I usually don´t fish; I just observe and enjoy the sun and the tranquility and the small talk and comments of the fishermen as the get their catch. It is fun and nice.

So at 11 I am back in my house and back to normality, and having lunch, going to the city, León, having meetings and being a normal person and it feels like living in two different worlds, and this is what gives me the energy, and that makes me feel young and alive.

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A rainy day

Sunday

Sometimes you feel a little unstable in your stomach when you live in the tropics. It might be because you have eaten something that had some unforeseen bacterias or just that you had a bit too much rum. I think it was the latter that happened to me yesterday. So anyway I was not in the mood to write anything. But when I woke up this morning at six I felt a lot better and went on my daily bicycle ride. I try to do that every morning to keep in shape. I don´t always manage, but as often as I can anyway.  The sun was up and it was cool and nice, only 25 degrees with a little breeze. Everybody in the village greets me on these rides, and that is nice.

They have a strong tradition for greeting in this country. Men greet even if they don´t mention names. They say “oi, varon”, “oi,” and a nickname, or they use the name. Varon means “man” in Spanish, so the equivalent in English would be “hey, man”.
The other way to greet if they meet a woman is “Adios”. This means good bye, but they do not mean that. It is a funny way of saying hi there. The tone o voice could be neutral or flirty, depending of the situation. I have heard many different ways of saying it. To me they also say “oi, Issa”, issa being my nickname here. So it is the people that know me that use this. In short, everybody says something to you even if you don´t know them personally.
This was strange for me in the beginning. In my country it is not normal to greet people you do not know. Here it is considered impolite not to greet, especially if you don´t know them. So now I say adios to everyone on my morning ride through the village.
Today I had two new kittens in my house. Because the houses are open all kinds of animals enter and it is nice to have someone take care of unwanted species. Speaking of domestic animals, that is a chapter on its own.  Since I live in a rural area and there are mostly local people living around here you will see all kinds of farm animals going loose in the streets. Most frequent are pigs, chickens and hens, horses and cows. This also takes some getting used to. So I had to lock up my garden with fences not to have the animals coming in and destroy my flowers. Everybody think it is a nuisance, but this is a way of earning some extra money. Leftovers from meals are never thrown I garbage, but over the fence where there always is a pig or a dog that will eat it. So you see life is very different from our regulated lives in Europe. You have to adapt to the nica way to be able to enjoy life in its strange ways. Since I am living in a small fishing village life is also different here than in the city, but that is also another story.

Now it is pouring down outside my window and I am afraid the electricity will fall out soon, so I have to end this now before it gets dark.

I will end this and remembering to tell you that my papaya tree is full of huge papayas, which was planted by accident by some of my construction workers when they were having their lunch one day.

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Life in the Village

Saturday

Today I have been here two weeks, and I am beginning to adjust to the temperature and life in general here in Nicaragua. When you come from Europe, it is necessary to change something in your head, like changing the chip of the telephone. You have to think differently.
Life in general is peaceful and “tranquilo”. Everybody goes about with their routine in a matter of fact manner and it happens whether there are foreigners present or not.

I will explain. I live in a small fishing village on the coast of the Pacific in Nicaragua. If you look at the map you will see my village close to a city called León. We have a fabulous road from the city out here that was built just one year ago. There are about 2000 people living in this area, and some are foreigners, but the majority is descendents from indigenous people, los sutiava. The traditional income here is fishing, and selling wood. The few tourists that come here meet a life that still is more or less the same that it has been for centuries. They cook on open fire. A lot do not know how to cook with gas. It is almost like the old captains of the sailing ships. When they started to work with engines they turned off the engine when entering a port and put up sail, because this was easier for them. It is a bit like this here too. I would not have any idea how to cook on open fire, but a lot of people here feel the opposite. They feel it is easier to cook on open fire, because that is what they are used to.

However, you see changes here as well. Travelling salesmen are frequent in the village. You can buy almost anything from them and you see them everywhere. And people buy from them. Yesterday afternoon I was sitting with an old woman in front of her house watching the time go by.  (People do that here.) And during this two hour time, several merchants passed. On was selling plastic bags for ice and food sold in the street, napkins, plastic glasses and plates, well almost anything you could think of in plastic. His vehicle was so loaded that when he stopped and was finding the things the woman wanted, it almost fell over. So what was his vehicle? It was a motorcycle. And this is how they travel those merchants. They sell everything, from bread to fresh milk from this medium of transport. And nothing is strange about it. I guess that the only thing that has changed is the medium of transport. Before they used horse and carriage, and the motorbike is the modern version.

So my afternoon was kept busy watching all these salesmen offering their merchandize to the people in the village.

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Everything grows in Nicaragua.

Saturday

It is winter in Nicaragua now. It is strange for someone from Europe to live the sensations of winter here. This morning when I got up it was raining heavily and the lights was on in the kitchen. It felt like Christmas!!! Nicaragua has two seasons, a dry one and a rainy one. The dry season is from November till April and the wet or rainy season is from May till November. The dry season they call summer and the wet is called winter. First time one experiences this it feels strange to call something with 30 degrees winter, but it is true. You feel sometimes that you like to stay indoors with candles and a blanket watching television, eating pizza and drinking wine.
However the winter is the time for growing things that you want to harvest. And everything grows. In my garden I have two big plants with chili. Someone dropped a seed on the ground, and two months later a plant is starting to grow. No it is a big tree that supplies my domestic needs for chili in my food.
Plants grow everywhere, and now, since it is raining, it is green and beautiful. The pictures show everything.
So the harvesting period is from May till November like in Europe, but they call in winter here.
In “summer” everything is brown and dry and look like in the winter in Europe, but not because it is too cold, but because it is too dry.
So this is it for now. I will continue this story once a week, and talk about my life here, and the peculiar things that happen in my daily life.
Good bye for now.

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I quit my job today

My house in Las Peñitas

This is my first day in Nicaragua after having quit my job as a language teacher in Norway. I have been teaching Spanish since 1983 and now I am out of this.

I will be writing my blog here telling whoever wants to read about my new life in Las Peñitas, Nicaragua.

This is a picture of me in the mangrove forrest. I sincerely hope I will be doing that again soon. I love the quiet atmosphere among the birds, iguanas and other animals that I don´t always see but they are out there somewhere.

But what shall I do now? First of all I am going to try to establish my own language school in León, on of the oldest colonial cities in Nicaragua. It has got a name and is called leonlingua.

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