Less Then 5 Months to Go!
It has been great to be back here, living our daily routine of working until noon, eating, reading/sleeping in the hammock, maybe working some more, visiting friends, eating again and sleeping. Yesterday and today I have been pleased to see that my students have been doing an outstanding job of taking care of our school gardens. Today in one of my rural schools we counted 30 squash plants, 25 papaya trees, 3 cantaloupe plants, 2 tomato plants, 16 green pepper plants, 2 enormous mint plants, 1 oregano, 10 green bean plants, and 4 watermelon plants. The teacher told me they ate the first squash yesterday as a part of the school lunch. I am so proud of them for caring for the garden, because sadly, most poor Nicaraguans eat very few fruits and vegetables because they cannot afford to buy them. It was recently pointed out to me that in our town of 6,000 people, there are only 4 little vegetable stands, which is about enough to feed 300 people. The reality is, the daily diet consists of red beans, rice, and corn tortilla. They do consume fruit juices, but they always contain way too much sugar. These gardens are an ideal way to make kids excited about eating fresh fruits and vegetables, since they are growing them all from seed.
My rural students are from farming families, and in working with them in our gardens, I have learned a few funny superstitions. Today the students caught me pointing various times at individual plants and the fruit growing on them. Each time I pointed, they all reprimanded me in all seriousness because if a person points at a plant bearing fruit, the plant will immediately dry up and die. After accidentally pointing various times, I finally got the hang of it and started “pointing” at plants with my entire open hand. They seemed to like that. Other interesting Nica superstitions are: One must never bathe at night because you will get sick (Mason and I both bathe at night!). One must never open the refrigerator door at night, you will get sick. Cat hair makes women sterile. A pregnant woman must never watch a solar or lunar eclipse; she will immediately lose her child.
Mason has been playing in a basketball league every Saturday and Sunday night for the past few months. It took him a while to adjust to the Nica street ball style, and to the strange calls the refs make. Mason’s final game was this past Sunday night when his team (who was favored to win the championship) lost in the first round. The crowds have been steadily building every week, but Sunday night’s game was the most crowded yet, because the team who won the most games out of 7 would go on to the championships, and both teams each had won 3 games. Tensions were high, the sky was thundering like mad, and the excited crowd was overwhelmingly cheering for the other team, since they were the underdogs. The fans of the other team were extremely riled up, and trying to mess with Mason’s team. They even brought a “marching band” for an added effect. The game was moving along smoothly, despite the disruptive crowd, when suddenly a big guy on the other team decided he wanted to make some trouble. Out of nowhere the guy gave Mas a shove and Mas was taken aback. He didn't push him back, but also didn't back down and they had a little face-off and shouting match. Basically that’s all that happened, the game went on, there was a break for a fight that broke out in the crowd, and Mason’s team eventually lost by 2 points. It was a very heated game with a few other almost-fights and multiple technical fouls. Well, the next day all around town, the only thing people were talking about was the big fight the gringo got in at the basketball game! People were telling me they saw a fist go into Mason’s jaw, others say he lost his two front teeth. I even heard that the other guy had to go to the hospital for a broken nose! All of my students know about the rumble and they think it’s SOOO COOL! It’s funny how gossip spreads here, especially if it involves the town’s only gringo. It was alsoa funny way to end Mason's basketball season.
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