July 21, 2005

Tendones de mi pie

Jeez, can I just please have one day where I'm not the biggest klutz in the world?! We left early this morning to borrow the government huge trucks to load up with gravel and rocks to fill in the mud in the road to Santa Rosa, the community that Bridges to Community works with here. Before we even leave, I climb up into the back of the tall truck, and the men tell me I have a space to sit in the cab since I'm a girl. So I jump down, and immediately cry, "Oh, I think I broke my foot." I wrapped it with some ace bandaging and medical tape when we got to the gravel pit, took some ibuprofen, and spent the morning hobbling around, not using the shovels but throwing by hand the rocks into the mud out in the campo. At lunch, I came back, and our medical student friend, Andy, warningly exclaimed,"what is that?! Your limp is definately worse. No more walking for you, sit in the hammock with your leg high. We're going to the hospital." Laura was going to come with me, to translate any details I couldn't gather myself, but she couldn't find anyone to drive the truck back out to Santa Rosa to bring the workers lunch. So she happened upon another gringo, Patrick, a German, in the market, determined that his Spanish was excellent, and his english was good as well and therefore was an excellent candidate to accompany me to the hospital. The radiographer was on vacation though so we had to take a taxi, trying to find his home for a while. We ended up just going to the private clinic where a doctor saw me and was able to determine that I just injured my tendons, and didn't need an x-ray. Phew! Got me some pain meds, and the doctor said no walking, but riding horses is fine, so my work will continue on monday. Sheesh.

July 20, 2005

No estoy enfermada

I thought I should mention my final diagnosis of my sickness...
went to the hospital the following day for another malaria/dengue blood smear, which was negative. They took a urine sample and (since I was on my period) there was blood "in the urine" which they diagnosed as a UTI, and I mentioned my diaphragm hurting from so much coughing which they diagnosed as heartburn. Needless to say, I ignored their diagnoses and prescriptions, got better on my own. Just a little cough, I think a small bacterial infection that set in during the viral infection. On amoxicillin now to get rid of that. Doin okay!


Don't worry, I am fine. Have been in the bush all week, got back saturday, the internet is closed on the weekend and then the Sandanista holiday was tuesday so everything was closed til today. In siuna til next monday due to the fact that my spanish is worse than i thought it was...I was supposed to make a radio announcement to tell (I thought) the guides from the far communities to bring only 2 horses yesterday instead of 4, but I didn´t get around to it and since its only $3 perday per horse, I wasn't too worried. But turns out I was supposed to make an announcement to tell them to come...AT ALL. Yeah, so I woke up at 5am yesterday walked to the market to catch the bus amidst all the Sandanista festival stuff (fairly dangerous since there are drunkards who occasionally start fighting with eachother or with people of the other party with machetes, knives, or guns), went out to Hormiguerro and waited for the horses that never came. Back to Siuna for the week, sheeit. At least I can email!


Somehow the cats are the only animals that are able to maintain some sort of decorum in the finca. Their coats remain shiny and full, and their fleas are much better hidden than those of the dogs or the featherless, mite-infested chickens. And it doesn’t hurt that I like cats to begin with. So I was petting this orange and white kitty one day, remarking on her full belly and wondering how long she had been pregnant. And she answered me RIGHT THERE! She went into labor on my lap, I put her in a basket, and she gave birth to 2 kittens within an hour! I went back a few days later, and found the still eyeless but furry kittens tucked up in a barn with their momma, purring purring, and fairly free from fleas. Awww……


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


My sister used to say she would never learn Spanish because she hated the way it sounded. “Escalaflolo, escalaflolo” was her imitation of how she heard it. “what does that mean?!”, she asked, sure she’d hit on some really clear phrase, since it Really Sounded like that. “It means nothing,” I’d tell her, but now, I think I may have an answer that is more satisfying.
Okay, there’s some liberty taken there, but just for the sake of argument, let’s break this one down a bit better. Escala with an accent mark over the last “a” means I climbed in the past. F is just stuck in there to mean #@%!. And then Lolo means mud. The mud here, oh, the mud. The sucking sound of it is so satisfying, and energy-sapping at the same time. The horses step in mud at the same pace, one after another, pulling mud up with their feet that drops before they place their foot in the next muddy place, thus creating ruts 2 feet deep separated by 2 ft tall mud walls—the compendium of so many horses passing in the same footsteps, literally.

July 8, 2005

continued Enfermada

Back in Siuna again, after having worked only a single day in Hormiguerro. Just too sick. Coughing all night, major headache, puddles of snot all over my pillow. The only time I fell asleep I woke up after a dream of getting stuck in an elevator that was broken and falling for stories and stories. The lady whose house we´re staying at, Rufina, is the nurse in Hormiguerro so she got up at 4am to make me some fresh eucalyptus tea for my throat, and get me some acetaminophena. I was supposed to go back out to Agua Sucia today and out to Curao to read the results of the tests that my companions gave a few days ago, but we decided they´d have to do it alone while Margarito drove me back yet again on the back of his motorcycle to Siuna. Went straight to the hospital. Don´t have malaria, but am going back again tomorrow to make sure, and to check for Dengue. Think it´s just a nasty flu though. No nausea, no diarrhea. That´s good.
In the meantime, You´ll be glad to hear that every animal we´ve tested thus far has been negative for both TB and brucellosis. It makes me confident enough to eat the quemada here (feta-like cheese) and the delicious coconut, milk, sugar frozen concoctions. Mmmmmm...


Margarito´s girlfriend/wife, Gloria, works at the hospital where 2 days ago a young woman from Bonanza came, had her baby and left without a trace. Gloria is a kind soul, and when asked if she would care for the baby, she radioed Margarito out at the station in Hormiguerro to see if he minded having a baby girl. He was very pleased, and told her no, and so now they have this tiny little orphan baby they call Glorimar "glory of the sea" which also happens to be a combination of their names together. Awwww....

July 6, 2005


Sick today and yesterday in the bush, but came back to siuna for rest. maybe dengue fever, but there´s nothing you can do for that and it doesn´t test positive for 3 days, so i won´t be able to check since i return to Hormiguerro (where i´m stationed out of for my work) tomorrow morning. flulike symptoms which means anything. fever doesn´t want to go away despite ibuprofen, which sucks because it´s hot enough here without a fever and a headache. But I worked through the sickness yesterday--we rode from hormiguerro to Agua Sucia (dirty water) on horses-a 2 hour path through fresh slash-and-burn agriculture mixed with jungle. the path is pure mud that often goes up to your knees and sometimes to your waist: hence the horses. My work is going well. I hesitated before working on the first cow, teaching the guys with me how to use the GPS, but when it came down to it I wasn´t nervous and the procedure was easier than i´d made it out to be in my mind. I like this work very much, and seeing how people live here is quite something. I just wrote a 20 minute entry that was erased so i´m going to send this now before another is erased. lots more to say though!

July 1, 2005

Ah, la lluvia

The Rain, the rain. The clouds pass overhead and you can hear how many moments you have before you absolutely Have to be under cover, as the rain passes over the leaves and tin roofs before it reaches you. It comes in with a sprinkle that lasts 20 seconds, builds to pouring for 5 minutes, hits the center of the storm with solid water in the air for a 2 minutes, relaxes back to pouring for a few more minutes, and trickles off slowly thereafter, lasting a total of about 20 minutes for each rain storm. The roads are totally washed out, rivers of mudddd. Tires squelch through them and bump along the middle or sides of the roads, avoiding bicycles and dogs, huge concrete-carrying trucks and tiny taxis. Whoever honks first has the right of way.
Up here at the university, 3 horses roam the basketball field and a few cows leave proof of their existence in the form of fecal material in the open-air auditorium. One of the women I am indebted to here was engaged to a local man the day I arrived, and she´s busy organizing food for their wedding. She leaves for the states (in fact, she´ll be living less than 20 minutes from me in Worcester, MA when she comes back) same time I do, so they have to get married in the next few weeks so Erick can start working on visas to join her there. Wow.
I get woken up at 4 in the morning by a barrage of roosters all crowing their "It's MY day!!!!!!!" song. And then the neighbors put on the radio. I think it is a terrible thing for a pop singer`s fate to become super famous in a developing nation. Why do they love the MOST awful stuff?? So not a terribly long sleep at night. Supplemented with a nap in the hammock on the porch, though. Good food here. Fresh mojitos, juice of some fruit i`ve never heard of, "adobe soup" which is cheese soup, everything frijto, and of course beans and rice with every meal.