06.02.2012 - 07.01.2012 85 °F
I'm getting a bit settled in Granada, my new home for the next two weeks. After getting a bit of rest in my hotel last night I headed out to dinner. Just off the center there are a few blocks which are closed to traffic and filled with restaurants and bars. This area clearly caters to tourists, many whom I'd guess are from neighboring countries or other parts of Central America.
Upon the suggestion of a (somewhat creepy) Nicaraguan-American, I ate at restaurant specializing in Nicaraguan food and had something absolutely delicious that I can't remember the name of (see photo). The plate was much larger than I expected, and I ended up sharing it with a local 13 year old named Alejandro (who was disappointed when I didn't buy his cigarettes but elated when I gave him the rest of my meal).
It seems that the poverty, specifically outside the town center, is severe here. The owner of the hotel I stayed in said that the average Nicaraguan makes $2 a day and has never seen the ocean (which is only an hour and a half away and would cost less than $2 to get to). Needless to say, I'm feeling very lucky. I saw Alejandro in the street again today, shoeless. He pointed to his feet and asked me to buy him shoes. It breaks my heart more than a little.
I met my host family this morning. They live in a gorgeous home about 4 blocks from the center of town. My host mom's name is Rosita. Her son, daughter, grandson and a woman to help cook and clean also live in the house. I had the most amazing lunch, a nacatamal (with a toasted hotdog bun on the side), which is a bit like a tamale but even more amazing. Rosita told me that it was a typical Sunday food (since it takes a long time to prepare). There is one other person staying with the family right now, a man from Berkeley, oddly enough.
The family only hosts up to four people a time and they seemed interested in talking to me a bit (all in Spanish!). I'm pretty excited about this – both because it'll help my Spanish and because it means that I get to know the Nicaraguan culture a bit.
In order to make room for me, the daughter and grandson have been displaced. They don't really seem to mind, but I feel pretty terrible about it. However, it does mean that I have unlimited access to a pretty sweet Lego collection.
Also worthy of noting, they seem to be quite big on seating. Just in the front area of the house alone (not including the dining room) there were 23 options – no joke.
Heidi and Jimmy are expected to arrive back in Granada in just a few hours – and I am very excited to see them. Starting tomorrow, we'll be spending our mornings volunteering at the preschool and our afternoons learning Spanish (yet again). Should be fun!