Or, if you want to count when I left Seattle, 40 days later.
I've been living in Nicaragua for almost an entire month. I kind of love it. I just spent two days in the field outside El Sauce. Rob, the director of El Porvenir, Nicaragua, picked me up at my house at 7am Tuesday morning and we took the two and a half hour drive north and slightly east to El Sauce. We stopped in Nagarote on the way for quesillos, Rob's favorite food. It was like a heart attack in a bag. They take a fresh, warm tortilla, place a circle of thick cheese on the tortilla, roll it up, place it in a bag and then pour an onion cream sauce over it. You then smoosh down the tortilla top to make sure it is immersed in the cream. Then you twist the top of the bag, tie it in a not and bite a hole in the bottom of the bag to gain access to your deliciously unhealthy snack. They're only a buck a piece (C$20) and Rob likes to eat at least three. He is insane.
I've learned over the past few weeks that you can eat or drink anything out of a plastic bag.
It's incredibly useful knowledge.
We left Nagarote after picking up a few quesillos and an orange Fanta, my current favorite beverage. (Sorry whisky! You've been replaced!) We arrived in El Sauce at about 10am and went to the field office to pick up the three staff there so they could guide us to the small comunidad a few hours hike to the north. So, we piled into the car and drove until the road ended. We then hiked, uphill, for three hours to get to this community to check on their wells. I thought I was going to die. Muscles in my legs I didn't know I had are still sore. It was so hot my sweat was sweating. Eric, my secret boyfriend, had to scare a few cows off one of the paths so we could pass. We met a few kids that hike an hour each way to go to school. They were wearing flip flops.
After three hours, we finally arrived at one of the houses near the well. They gave us chairs and the family put my chair in the very center of the room. Then they all stared at me. For a very long time. They let me know that I'm "gordita, blanca, habla español muy mal y hermosa." They laughed when one of the girls tried to teach me how to whistle. I told them I would practice my whistling skills and my Spanish and come back. They tried to get me to take their 12 year old daughter back to the States with me. I laughed and said maybe in a year. The other volunteer here told me I shouldn't have said that because they may take me seriously and ship me their daughter. I wish them luck. And I may be fat white and bad at Spanish, but I already knew that. I think that, because it's a million mile hike up a mountain to get to their house, they don't get a lot of visitors. Perhaps along with clean drinking water, we should bring them manners. Or something.
The next morning I was, again, ready to go at 7am. A bit sore and not terribly well-rested, but ready none the less and armed with a giant bottle of water to combat the hiking that would happen after breakfast. Luckily, this hike was nowhere near as long or as uphill.
We again drove to the outskirts of town, not as far, parked and headed out on a trail that was pretty flat. The hike was a little over an hour and we checked out some of the plots that were being reforested. I wasn't feeling all that well and I totally vommed in the bushes.
Oneida, one of the ladies from the field office, asked me if I was all right and what I had eaten for breakfast. My response: "Gallo pinto y ojos." Then I realized I told her I had eaten eyes for breakfast and that was why she was looking at me funny, so I corrected myself and said "I mean, huevos." Or eggs, as they're commonly called in the US.
We checked out two more reforestation plots in the area, crossed two rivers on foot, climbed under some more barbed wire and then headed back to the car. I climbed down a ladder made of roots. It wasn't really a ladder, but it was really the only way to get down off the cliff. I successfully made it down without dying. That's important. Not dying can be pretty fun.
When we got back to town, we went to another community that is in El Sauce. It's the shanty town. A lot of the houses are made from tin and old plastic bags. There's a really nice river that runs by there. And it wasn't a hike to get there at all. It was just a five minute walk down a rock and garbage-filled road that was too rough to drive over. Then we left and went to a meeting with the mayor. I'd never met a mayor before.
We left El Sauce that evening around 5p and headed back to Managua for another meeting at 8p. We got caught in a crazy storm. There was thunder and lightning and rain. So much rain. The water was inches deep on the road and the rain was pouring down in sheets. Neither of us could see out the windshield and we were listening to music from the early 1950's. I felt kinda like I was in a David Lynch film. We made it back to Managua at about 8:30 and I told Rob I was too tired for another meeting. So he took me home where I drank some water and promptly passed the f out. The maid had cleaned my room while I was gone and put clean, ironed sheets on my bed. It was so nice.
I went to another meeting this morning and now have another friend from the States to go clubbing with, which is great. A girl can't spend too much time sorrounded by Germans without losing her pretty little mind.
Oh, and I saw Rachael. Twice this week! She is awesome, just so you are all aware. She is from the east coast, but I don't hold that against her. Her hilarity, sarcasm and wit make up for defects in where she was reared...