Archive for November 2011

Giving Thanks

November 24, 2011

Marisa and I are celebrating our second Thanksgiving in Nicaragua. It’s hard to be away from family, especially during the holidays and we dearly miss our family traditions, the giant turkey, sweet potatoes, and other Thanksgiving favorites that just aren’t available here. However, we are grateful that God has blessed us with new friends and community to share this day with and revealed to us new things to be thankful for.

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The following is a list of some things I have learned to be thankful for:

I am thankful for the men and women who stand up to give a pregnant woman  a seat on the bus.  You are teaching me to be more considerate.

I am thankful for the people who unconsciously help me cross busy streets everyday.  One person alone will never get across several lanes of busy traffic, but when a group of 6 o 7 starts across at the same time traffic stops for us.  You are teaching me about solidarity.

I am thankful for the people who say “excuse me” and “pardon”  to everyone when trying to make their way to the door on an impossibly crowded bus even though their uncomfortable actions are completely unavoidable.  You are teaching me to be more polite.

I am thankful for the young men in the market who, when I had pegged you as a theif, instead give money to the beggars you pass on your way.  You are teaching me about generosity.

I am thankful for our host family; even though we’ve moved into our own place Marisa and I are welcomed back into your house week after week.  You are teaching me about hospitality.

I am thankful for the sun; even though the hot rays have burnt my skin and made me sweat profusely every day for the last 15 months, after two days of nothing but rain I am already becoming depressed.

I am thankful for my church; even though the liturgy and even some of the beliefs are quite different it is a place where I can go to feel God’s love and the love of God’s people.



November 22, 2011

With this post, we are beginning a series we’d like to call “The 5 NicaSenses”

Whenever I picture someone being somewhere I’ve never been, I always wonder what they’re seeing, tasting, smelling, hearing, etc. So, we thought we’d try and elaborate on some of what we’ve been sensing during our first 15 months in Nicaragua.


Nicaraguans are really, REALLY proud of their food

A Parillada (or meat fest) served to us on New Years Day 2011

Favorite Nica food to buy on the streets:
  • Tajadas con queso – fried plantain strips (chips) with a slab of fried cheese on top, covered in a vinegary coleslaw

Tajadas con queso, wrapped in banana leaves

Favorite Nica recipes we try to recreate at home:
Hard tortillas (tostadas)
Refried beans (make your own or buy them)
Salty, crumbly cheese
Cabbage slaw (shred some cabbage and carrots, add some diced tomatoes. Make a dressing with oil, vinegar, salt, pepper, and oregano)
1) Assemble: Put the tortilla on a plate. Spread the beans on top. Sprinkle on the cheese and add the cabbage slaw. Top with hot sauce and sour cream if desired. Try to eat without making a huge mess.
Sopa de Frijoles
Make a pot of beans from scratch, with extra water
1) Scoop some of the beans out with a slotted spoon, leaving about 2-3 cups of beans swimming deliciously in the broth
2) Stir in some milk and some sour cream
3) Bring soup to a boil. Carefully crack eggs into the soup (1-2 per person).
4) Cook without stirring over medium heat until eggs are cooked through.
*Adapted from the Extending the Table cookbook. Look on page 94 for more detailed instructions.
So, what else are we eating day to day?
  • Spaghetti – almost weekly appearance
  • Stir fry/fried rice – the green Lizano sauce is surprisingly delicious in Asian food
  • Oatmeal – most mornings with banana, peanut butter and honey
  • Bread – I’m on a homemade bread-making kick lately. We’ll see how long into the dry season this lasts…
  • Eggs and potatoes – either scrambled eggs and fried potatoes, or in the form of a Spanish tortilla. These are both Adam’s specialty

During Bryce's visit, we were served enormous fish!

Visit to Teustepe

November 11, 2011

A few weeks ago Marisa and I had the chance to visit Nate Abrahams and Liz Weidner fellow MCC workers living in Teustepe, Nicaragua. Teustepe is a small town about 2 hours by bus from Managua.

We learned:

  • That you can make delicious pizza in a toaster oven
  • A bit about their work with sustainable agriculture and community organizing. Specifically we went to visit a biodigestor they were helping build on a pig farm. The smell was lovely:)
  • We visited the patron saint of Teustepe

We had a great time relaxing, eating tasty food, and catching up with them. It was really good to be able share and empathize with each other about all the funny, rewarding, and frustrating experiences of living and working in a different culture.

To read more about their experiences in Nicaragua, check out their blog: Rubber Boots and Barbed Wire

The (not surprising) election results

November 9, 2011


(election day)

– there was a polling location at the end of our street, but besides a bit of increased traffic, it seemed like any other normal day.

– we went to church like normal. Some church members arrived with their “dedos manchados” (fingers inked) to indicate they had already cast their votes

To make sure people knew how to vote, sample ballots were plastered everywhere, even on a trash cart.


Sunday evening

– polls closed at 6pm across the country. Pretty immediately fireworks started going off to celebrate the FSLN victory.

– we kept our eyes on Twitter newsfeeds, following #nicaragua and looking at La Prensa and El Nuevo Diario for updates

– we stayed up to hear the first official vote count which was read around 11pm. With only 6% of the votes in, Ortega appeared to be winning by a landslide.

(National holiday to celebrate victory for the Sandinistas)

– news in the morning was only showing 38% of the votes counted. We are wondering how this process could be so slow!!

– receive word of a protest of the opposition groups at 3pm. Nothing ended up happening…

– by the evening, the official winner was announced. Here are the final numbers:

Daniel Ortega (FSLN) 62.65%
Fabio Gadea (PLI) 30.96%
3 other guys whose votes make up the rest <10%

– we went out to the rotonda (traffic circle) where there was music playing and Sandinista supporters waving flags


Our reaction

– First of all, we were relieved to hear that the elections were peaceful for the most part.

– There are many accounts of fraud that will take weeks, if not months to sort through.

– Happiness because on the one hand it seems like the Sandinista government has done good things for the country, especially the poor, but skepticism on the other hand because most of the programs are only hand-outs that don’t address structural problems. Will the social programs continue, or was that just a ploy for re-election?

– Sadness because Daniel made a mockery of the constitution to make himself elegible for reelection.

– What kind of new laws and constitutional changes will the FSLN make now that they have a super-majority in Congress?

– What will happen if/when Chavez dies?

Further reading:

Economist: “The Survivor”

Aljazeera article: “Nicaragua’s Ortega: Socialism to Opportunism?”

NPR: “Amid Reports of Irregularities, Nicaragua’s Ortega Poised for a Landslide”

Envío (Nicaraguan bi-lingual scholarly publication): “Last Minute Pre-election Fears, Questions and Warning Signs”