Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Aloha from Nicaragua!

I know that I have been out of the country and off of the island for more than two months now, and I am just getting my first blog done now. Internet is not always easily accessible here in the country, in fact, less than 16% of Nicaraguans have access to it. My time here has been incredible and priceless. I've had a plethora of experiences here that have been so diverse, humbling, and fulfilling. I moved in with my family after a few days here, and they have really been the biggest factor in learning more about the culture and Nica way of life. Our houses are all colorful with intricately designed metal around the windows, there is always food being sold in the "pulperias" of the neighborhood (a vendor selling food out of his/her house), and everyone looks out for everyone else in the neighborhood. We've been on the most amazing excursions to el campo (the country), the International Poetry Festival in the city of Granada, the Caribbean coast, and most recently, to Cuba to learn about their strong ties and influence within the Nicaraguan government. There is so much to share and talk about, but I'll focus on our time on the Caribbean coast of Nicaragua.

To get across the country from our home-city, Managua, on the Pacific coast, we must trek 8 hours by bus to get to the river, at which we then take a panga boat three more hours until we reach the Atlantic city of Bluefields; it was a long day. This just served as the foreshadowing of the difference between the coasts of Nicaragua, which often gets noted, "as if they were two different countries."

Our 3-hour panga ride was quite scenic
From the city of Bluefields, we then traveled to the Garifuna community of Orinoco. The Garifuna people have descended from some of the only people who were taken from Africa, but not enslaved afterward. The captain of the vessel that was taking them to the Americas to become slaves fell ill during the journey, and their ship crashed on San Vincent island. The Garifuna people were the descendants of the Indigenous and African people who lived on the island before migrating west to Honduras, Belize, and Nicaragua. We were very fortunate to learn about their way of living in fishing, traditional medicine, and reviving their Garifuna culture of language, music, and dance which was almost lost. We felt embraced as guests and family in Orinoco, and were honored to have been a part of their lives.
A fruit in Orinoco used in traditional medicine.

Members of the community show us the "Punta," a Garifuna dance.
Always appreciating the peace and the people of Orinoco. 

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