July 20, 2005

Relatividad

I find it very interesting to compare lifestyles. Coming into Managua where the airport is smaller than Lexington’s, I was immediately forced to recognize the 3rd world nature of this country. Oxen and horse drawn carts alongside “reticulated lorries” and taxis galore. Siuna of course is a step “down” from that, even. The first thing I was struck by was the gravel tarmack and the fact that the airport consists of one man wearing an old uniform, directing the plane, and standing by with a fire extinguisher. The market is only one and a half streets, and the water only comes on once (sometimes twice) a week. Then I leave Siuna, for Hormiguerro where there is only one house with electricity, there are no hospitals or doctors, there is only a single car that travels between Siuna and back 3 times daily, and the main center of the “village” is a green space for wandering cows, pigs, horses, and the odd volleyball game. Still, I venture further into the campo to test animals in the various communities that surround the Bosawas Reserve and I find fincas (farms) that are isolated by slash and burn agriculture. There is no electricity or running water. You can’t see houses, you have to cross fields and go through jungle and over mountains and through rivers to get to the next one, and yet they consider themselves “communities” because they are within an hours travel of one another by horseback. From here I come back to Hormiguerro and am pleased to see bicycles and the comforting feeling of houses within sight of one another. I travel back to Siuna and am amazed at the paved roads, the market where you can get just about anything, the fact that there is an airport at all! It’s all relative. I think being reminded of this is one of my favorite parts of traveling. One day eating dinner I laughed to myself thinking about my dinner compared with the backyard dinner parties that Mom and her friends have. I hope they read this, because I think they would appreciate it. “ Wine? What kind? Your top is so cute! You don’t look a day over 30! Where’d you get it, a small eclectic boutique? Are these organic strawberries in this hand tossed salad?” Meanwhile I have the choice between frijoles y arroz (beans and rice) or gallo pinto (beans and rice mixed together). The exciting part is whether or if I will have yucca (think plain baked potato) or tortilla on the side. My choice of wardrobe is mud encrusted soaking wet pants or cow-shit covered pants. The nearest eclectic boutique is probably in some touristy town in Costa Rica. People under thirty have 5 or 6 kids and look not a day under 45 from working in the sun or in wood-burning smoky kitchens all day everyday their whole lives. My dinner party companions are bugs (lots of them), several puppies, flea bitten dogs, a piglet or two, some chickens, maybe a cat, and my travel companions, the students. I look forward to indulging in some luxurious food sprinkled with frivolous conversation when I return

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