After 4 days of traveling what felt like the entirety of Nicaragua, we are peacefully back in El Transito.
I have been journaling every day, so I will share with you bits from those entries. To write out the whole thing would be an exhausting endeavor, plus, you don't wanna read all that ;-)
But first, a few photos of Scott and I hand washing our clothes in El Transito before Eric and Emily arrived
Day 6 - San Juan Del Sur, Nicaragua - 06.12.11 - 10:16 p.m.
Emily and Eric arrived today! We were an hour late picking them up from the airport because we confused the time...
Before picking up our friends, we went with Julie to see the new Catholic Cathedral in Managua. It is a grand concrete structure, with what looks like a cluster of hand grenades adorning the rooftop.
After picking up Eric and Emily, we took a bus to what we thought would be San Juan Del Sur.... wrong. It took us to Rivas, then we had to hop a SKETCHY taxi to take us the rest of the way. We found a really nice hostal, ate a good dinner on the beach, walked down for some ice cream, then returned just moments ago.
The beach in San Juan Del Sur is stunning.
We spent hours on the beach just before dinner. Tiny boats dotted the horizon, with cliffs on either side. The cliff on the north side of the coast has a HUGE statue of Jesus on it that, as we recently observed, lights up at night with neon lights...
Day 7 - San Juan Del Sur, Nicaragua - 06.13.11 - 10:33 p.m.
Had 2 hours of sleep last night... turns out the hostal we chose was immediately in front of an all-night dance club. That, and our air-conditioner decided to stop working at 10:00 p.m. We sweated through our sheets.
We spent the first half of today in San Juan, walking the streets of the mercado (market) and visiting the first lending library in Nicaragua. It is the library that we hope to model our after. We enjoyed seeing brightly colord buildings, families of three riding on one bicycle, and drinking bags of Cacao.
We then took a taxi to Playa el Coco, a gorgeous beach about 20 km south of San Juan.
Rocks littered the shoreline and cliffs surrounded us on all sides. HUNDREDS of tiny crabs crawled amongst the rocks, looking like pebbles rolling across the rocky terrain. A truly incredible site.
Can you see the crabs??
For dinner, we walked down the beach a little ways to "Lugs Place", a restaurant owned and operated by Robert, a Canadian. We were the only customers, as it is "off-season" in Nicaragua, so we were treated with an off-the-menu surprise dinner of pasta with a peppery tomato sauce and shrimp, with a side of fresh pan seared tuna. Robert also traeted us with one round of free drinks. I should mention that "Lug" is the name of a HUGE Napolean Mastif that belongs to Robert. Lug sat very still at the top of the stairs, watching as we entered. I did not even see the beast until his bear-like face met mine eye-to-eye!
Robert approached us after we ate dinner and told us that he was really touched by observing us pray before dinner, and then followed with, "and you guys still drink? Tell me about your faith..." What followed was a 20 min philosophical-spiritual conversation on what we believe, particularly who we believe Jesus to be and why we choose to live the way we do. Robert was pretty much drunk during this coversation, but it was beautiful and refreshing none the less. God is good.
Day 8 & 9 - Granada, Nicaragua - 06.14 to 06.15.11 - 8:00 a.m.
This morning, we went with the San Juan Del Sur Library to two different schools where they offer a "mobil" library, allowing kids from surrounding cities to borrow 2 books a month. We read books to the children, taught them their numbers in English, and helped lend the books. Such a sweet and neat experience.
We took a taxi from San Juan Del Sur to Rivas, a bus from Rivas to Granada. My experience at Rivas and now Granada, was my first true big-Latino-city experience and I'll be honest, I haven't really enjoyed it. But, that's most likely because at the Rivas bus stop, we had a small boy attempt to pick-pocket us 3 different times and had vendors shoving their various trinkets and food items in our faces for 2 hours. Then, we arrived in Granada close to dark, putting us in one of two places - either on empty streets, eerie with glowing street lamps and the occassional night walker, or in busy, crowded streets with vendors shoving their various trinkets in our faces for the entirety of the evening. They were like pesky flies, swarming all around us and landing on our faces, refusing to fly away despite our repetitive swats. I was so.... uneasy and uncomfortable the whole evening. Perhaps the most disturbing part of the evening was a group of 3 skinny boys, no older than 8 or 9, walking around the various outdoor spaces of the restaurants offering to make animals and flowers out of long leaves. The animals were cute, granted, and I thought it was actually charming - boys making the equivalent of balloon animals on a cobbled street - until I realized that these boys were hungry, earning their money for an older man, thus being forced to beg for food when he wasn't looking. It made me ill.
We are staying at a hostal called "The Bearded Monkey".
I have never stayed at a true hostal, but this is exactly what I had invisioned. Hippie-Central. If you don't have dreads, a bandana wrapped in your hair, or a leather braided necklace draped around your neck, you get a second glance. It is a really nice place, though. Everyone is so relaxed and kind. Free internet and coffee, too, which is a plus.
I hate to give the impression that the past day or so was all bad, because really it wasn't. I was just more overwhelmed by my feelings of frustration and nervousness than my feelings of awe.
We walked inside a beautiful historic church, climbing to its bell tower to see an incredible view of Granada, with Volcano Mombacho taking over the horizon.
The buildings here are brightly painted with white trim, and the streets are all cobbled and tiled, making for a beautiful, historic-feeling ambiance.
I am hoping that experiencing the city during the day will be more satisfying.
Day 10 - El Transito, Nicaragua - 06.16.11 - 2:45 p.m.
Granada was a much better experience during the day. The streets were filled with school children and the colors of the houses were all the more bright.
We found a little gem in the city - an art school, where artists and painters created and sold their works. We bought 2 paintings/ink prints of doors. They perfectly portray the brightness of the doors in Granada.
We were hit with rain for most of the afternoon, which put a lovely glossy finsih on the tiled sidewalks and cobbled roads.
We were able to purchase 20 books at a local bookstore in Granada called "Hispamer" for about $100! It was so exciting to make our first purchase for the library!
Making our way back to El Transito last night was so exciting for me. I was eager to show Eric and Emily our beach house and the art center. We went to bed pretty early, as we were exhausted from our travels.
Today, as every day in El Transito, has been a slow-paced day. I worked with the women on their bags for most of the morning and taught them how to make little rosettes out of scrap fabric. They finished making the CUTEST series of bags with embroidery on the exterior. I have already promised to purchase one.
We went out to Julie's beach property today and enjoyed a few hours on the rocky coast.
The waves burst over the rocky mounds in large sprays, like water bursting from a whale's spout.
The waves came in at a diagonal to the rocks, so the crashes occurred in perfectly timed intervals, as if Mickey Mouse were directing them with his wand in Fantasia.
Well, that brings us today. Sorry for the long entry! Hope you made it through!
We need and appreciate your prayers daily.