Sunday, June 17, 2012

mango hunting

last week the peace corps gave us a folder with the name of a volunteer currently working in the country and sent us off to go visit them and see what real volunteer life is like.  the anticipation was killing me as we went through each volunteer and my name was not called.  the sites in the north were called. the far away sites were called. nothing. finally, "aaron white is going to... ometepe!" i was super excited to hear i was going to the island in the middle of lake nicaragua with two volcanos and a big tourist destination for the country. pc explained the purpose of the visit, discussed our responsibilities, budget, and what we needed to do to get there.  then we went off and all discussed where our sites were after the meeting. we all were very excited to get out of our training towns for a little bit and take a break from the nonstop pace of training.
ometepe from the ferry
waiting for the ferry
sunday morning, i headed out around 7 and met up with the other trainee heading to the island with me and caught the next bus headed towards rivas, the main city in the region. from there we negotiated with a cab driver who wanted to charge us C$70 to drive us to the dock in san jorge. after some arguing, we settled on C$40 for the two of us- a much more reasonable price.
the obligatory photo
the only way to get to the island is by ferry, and when we got to san jorge the next ferry didn't leave for another 1.5 hours. kacie and i decided to get some coffee and relax at a little place near the dock and then hit up the beach for the obligatory photo of the volcano in the background.

after arriving on the island, zac, the volunteer i was visiting, and i promptly spent some time relaxing in some hammocks available at the hostel he lives at while his host family prepared baho (sounds like "bow" in english)- a traditional nicaraguan dish. the way it was described to me is they start with a layer of banana leaves, then layer different things like plantain, yucca, vegetables, more starchy things, and meat. after everything has been properly layered, they wrap it in a plastic bag and then place it in a big pot to boil for several hours.  the result tasted kind of like pot roast to me, it was pretty good. complemented, of course with some rice and cabbage salad.

baho- nicaraguan pot roast basically

gustavo was super proud of those mangos
later we went in search of delicious, ripe mangos. this involved asking several people where to go and where the best place might be to find mangos.  they all told us to go find this one woman, doña francisca, in the poorer section of town because she had a large mango tree. unfortunately, when we arrived, they had already harvested all of the ripe mangos. it was amazing how friendly they were though. they let us in and said we could go look at the mango tree if we wanted. definitely a much different experience than in the states.  most people would probably say, "what the hell are you doing here?" if you came up to them and asked if they had any mangos. it's a different world here.

finally found the mangos
then we met gustavo. gustavo caleras to be exact. he was one of the men we stopped to ask directions from while searching for doña francisca's home. he asked us if we had any luck, and when he found out we hadn't, he offered to take us to his house because he had some mangos there. i thought that meant he had a mango tree since they are fairly common. (my house has one right outside and sometimes they fall on the roof and sound like we're under attack) turns out, gustavo didn't have a mango tree, but he did have three mangos at his house that he glady gave us.  he pulled out some chairs and we sat on his front step for about half an hour listening to his life story basically. how many kids he had, where he grew up, etc.  at one point in his life, he was making C$12/day with 10 kids.  he said that there were many times when they were hungry, and i can imagine.  12 cords is about $.50 in today's dollar.  i can only hope that the cost of things were slightly less back then because i can't imagine trying to live on 72 cords a week for one person. i really enjoyed meeting him and sitting for a while. the best part was he just gave us the mangos. he said some people might charge us for them, but he didn't really care. he'd give us the tree if he could.

i also went to a cock fight, planned and observed a class, cut coconuts and ate them, climbed a volcano, and went to a training session with local businessmen about social responsiblity and identifying relevant stakeholders. i'm going to break it up because this is already kind of long.

No comments:

Post a Comment