Aug 24, 2008

Under the Volcano

It's so funny that all the things that have filled my brain to overflowing in the past several months--work, wedding, more work, tumors, work-- have fallen completely off the radar screen this morning. We're leaving for Nicaragua in a few hours and all we can think about is getting back to that village and checking in with our buds to see how they're doing.

For example, these kids, especially that young girl under my arm. That's Kenia and we're very best friends. She cries every time we hug her goodbye to come home and she springs out of nowhere and leaps into our arms every time we come back. She writes me often to tell me how she's doing in school (great) and how her family is getting along (great) and how much she misses us (a lot). And I write her to tell her how much we miss her and how many days are left until we get to come back to see her again.

Here we are with Kenia and her family two years ago. I can't wait to give every single one of these people a huge hug about this time tomorrow.

Please note my uber flattering 'do in this photo, which Morley calls my "Nicaragua Hair". The sun bleaches my hair out until it's almost white and the humidity makes it so curly that I can hardly comb it--I look like a bleached out Bozo the Clown. Not everyone can carry off the look but I think my pink Barbie fanny pack helps pull it all together. Just go ahead and say it: I am one fashionable chick.

Also, we have to look up this kid. We tease her by calling her "Devil Girl" because she's a bundle of mischievous energy every living minute of the day. Morley held her the first time when she was only a few months old and every time we see her she's grown six inches and has gotten even more beautiful. This kid is going to be a handful when she gets to be a teenager.

...and this is the poor guy is who will beating the teenage boys away from her door. He's her dad, and the lady in the background is her mom, Natalie.

I call Natalie "Maestra" (teacher) because she's the one who taught me to make tortillas a few years ago when my job was Kitchen Girl at the school. I can't wait to see her again, although I'm a little worried she might pull me into the kitchen for a pop quiz. My tortilla making skills are a little rusty.

And seeing this view is like old home week--the volcano we work under every day. When we first went to Nicaragua it worried us when the volcano steamed like this. Now we get worried when it doesn't.
And I can't wait to see my man in a 'doo rag, digging holes or pounding nails, or whatever he's going to be doing. Morley absolutely comes alive when he's in the village hanging with those macho men and doing manly things.

We have two rookies in our group this time (Morley's sister Carol and my daughter Lisa) and I can't wait to see the expression on their faces when they see this for the first time:

This is the daily rain storm rolling in. This is the rainy season so every afternoon at 3:30 a mega cloud like this one rolls in and it rains like a sumbitch. The cloud is so huge and so dense that it totally obscures the volcano in the background--they don't fool around when it comes to rain clouds--and when it rains in Nicaragua, it rains. The first time we saw a storm like this, we wanted to start building an ark and gathering up animals.

But now we know that after the cloud dumps several inches of rain (which only takes an hour or a bit less) the temperatures will be cool and nice for an hour or two, and everything smells so good. Plus we get to knock off work for the rest of the afternoon because the ground is too muddy to work anymore. And then we go home and take a cold shower (because we look like this by then) and eat rice and beans for dinner and sleep like rocks all night on inch-thick mattresses and pillows about as thick and fluffy as a rolled up newspaper. And then we do it all again the next day.

So we're off to visit some friends and help them build pigpens or dig latrines or do some other exotic project like that. I'll give you a full report in a week or so--just as soon as I get home and wrestle my hair into submission and get the dirt out of my ears.

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