Monday, November 20, 2006

President elect Ortega

WHO: Essa (aka Vanessa)
WHAT: Peace Corps, Environmental Education
WHERE: Nicaragua
WHEN: Sept '05 - Nov '07
WHY: La vida es un carnaval

So, the election excitement is over and life's back to normal...but we did have an exciting one with the predicted split liberal vote , making way for Daniel Ortega, the Sandanista candidate, to take the presidency. In my conversations with people, there are all over the board on their reaction. Those that are unhappy worry that Nicaragua will return to the same situation in the 80s (war, land redistribution, food rationing, poor quality food, astronimical inflation rates), cause the already miserable economy to worsen, and inflame relations with the US. Not to mention they are not happy that his wife is a recognized witch (which, according to one woman, explains how he won the election.)

The fact that he has taken office makes Peace Corps Volunteers ponder our future here, as the last time he took office in '79, he kicked the Peace Corps out. I'm a little worried, but it is doubtful that will happen this time around, as he keeps reiterating that he is intent on having a good relationship with the US and vows to keep the Dominican Republic-Central American Free Trade Agreement on track. In any case, it is a good lesson for all us PCVs on what living in a politically unstable country is like. No wonder few Nicaraguans make long term plans around here - if it's not the hurricanes or malaria that get you, it's a radical change in government.

These past few weeks I've been busy getting my thesis project started. As one of the tasks, I sat of the wells I will be studying for two days in a row. I wanted to get an idea of how much water the well users extract. It was pretty boring, and I know the locals think I'm crazy, but they did invite me to a birthday party that eveing, so they couldn't have seen me as too weird. One of the days was washing day - below is Isabel washing clothes for her dad and two brothers. She uses an old piece of culvert (I think) that the highway department blasted out when the redid the road a few years ago. Only the women washed, but the boys pumped the well and made sure they always had enough water.

Here's Maria and her daughter washing on their more primitive rock - they use the barbed wire fence to hang the clothes to dry.

In other parts, where there's enough surface water, they commonly wash right in the river.

Day of the Dead

November 2nd is the day of the dead, and everyone visits the cemetary to clean and paint the graves (they usually pour cement slabs over the graves), and decorate them with flowers. The day is festive, though not rowdy, and the priest came to give mass.


My neighbor Jose Luis, and his stepdaughter, Liz Carmen, spent Halloween evening with me. We all sat around my Halloween candle that my folks sent last year, and Jose Luis told ghost stories...he swears they are true. They always involved meeting someone who had died and came back to protect someone from something.

Some of the Nicaraguan old and young: