While I haven´t managed to take any photos in the last week, I am planning to take a walk around my community in the next couple days with the direct purpose of capturing some images to show on here. However, for now my less than vivid prose will have to do. The rain has picked up a bit, but is still well under the normal levels, and certainly not sufficient to keep the already planted beans alive for long without some kind of change. There was a slow drizzle all afternoon yesterday leaving the landscape greener and refreshed this morning, but without some consistancy the dust will stir up early this year. On the plus side I have been very lucky in that it has no longer been raining every time I do laundry meaning my shirts have finally dropped their half dry molded smell.
Along with my site mate we´ve constructed 3 more barrel ovens in the last week, with one more left to go next week as well as a baking session to inagurate each one. This flurry of activity along with the fermentation of some orange ginger wine (thanks to the yeast I received from my father) has been keeping me busy, but I don´t expect it to last long. The Mercado Verde was last Saturday and the women sold nearly everything they brought. This was very encouraging, given the last two consecutive markets had been rather slow and the situation is fragile enough here that a good sale is definitely necessary to sustain the market for any length of time. There is a good core group of women (mostly from other communities near by, but a couple from my community as well) that participate regularly in the market and will seek out or make a product to sell when their own garden isn´t producing. For example, when she has no produce of her own, one woman from my community goes around to trees she knows are producing fruit that no one is eating (such as the starfruit (melocotón) tree her neighbors have but don´t harvest) and gather fruit to sell. Other women will bring a tied up hen or make nacatamales (large corn masa tamales with spices stuffed with vegetables and pork then steamed in banana leaves) or guirila (a thick tortilla of young corn served with fresh cheese which has a lightly sweet flavor). I am very happy to see this creative commitment to the project and I hope I can both sustain what´s there already while helping them to expand their repetoire of recipes and production techniques. We´ll see how it works out in a couple of weeks as it will be the first time I am at the market unaccompanied by the other volunteers.
Yesterday morning while making an oven I witnessed something that was strange in that my sitemate Victoria had to point it out to me, although in retrospect it was definitely something that I would never have seen in the States. The young son (around 3 years old) of one of the women of the house at which we were working was sitting on the front bar of an unhitched oxcart making motorcycle sounds with his mouth and using a stick for handlebars. This by itself is unremarkable - the fact that he was using a plastic bag fully pulled over his head as a play helmet (without protest from any of the many attending adults) is certainly something worth noting. I, however, did not notice this as anything strange until Victoria mentioned it.
On a slightly related note, I have recently noticed that many things that initially seemed exotic to me I know accept as mundane and even banal. For example, dodging pineapple or pithaya barbs to get to the latrine was at first something I had to consciously reason through before doing, but now it is second nature to the point that I don´t even notice I´m doing it. A conversation I had with a couple of young Nicaraguan boys further made this point to me. I started talking to them as they were picking guayava from a tree near my house and they started asking me about the fruit in Michigan. I told them that there were a lot of apples this time of year and they could hardly believe that such a strange land of fantasy could possibly exist. Apples are an exotic fruit here prized for their uniqueness and rarity. This goes to demonstrate that the idea of exoticism is purely contextual and someone can just as easily find a mango boring and worthless as I can be fascinated by the vividness of its flavor.
As much as I feel fachento (pretentious) having my mp3 player with me, it has been invaluable in the maintenance of my sanity through the slow times so far. Given it´s been so important to me so far to have my music with me, I thought I would start posting what I´ve been listening to lately. In addition to this, I live my life by musical milestones and hopefully I´ll thank myself later for recording my listening trends. That being said - the song of the week is Nina Simone´s first successful single "I Loves You Porgy" from Gershwin´s Porgy and Bess.
That´s about it for now. As always I hope everyone is well and come back next time for my report on the casual daredevelling of Nicaraguan men.