Thursday, August 28, 2014

Garden 2014

I don't think I'll be harvesting from my garden as long as I was last year (right up until the middle of October). The blight (possibly septoria leaf spot) has got my tomatoes too bad. The kids and I are talking about possibly planting milkweed to attract monarchs next year. :)  Nevertheless, it's been a good year and I'm always happy with what I get from my little garden plot. Next year I will find a new spot for tomatoes.

 Not all my marigolds came up this year, but I think the ones that did were exceptionally beautiful. 

 I have 5 or 6 okra plants and almost enough okra now to fry us up a plate. :)

 I really don't like these wasps, but he was very photogenic! 

 I let two of my radish plants that didn't make radishes (at least not worth eating) go to seed, so I will have seeds for next year. I was thinking how un-ecnomical radishes are--you only get one small radish from each seed. It is pretty neat how these grew little pods all over similar to a pea pod. I'm going to have MANY seeds from the two plants. Now I have to see about harvesting them and when.

 In spite of the blight my tomato plants grew big, beautiful tomatoes. We have had a steady harvest over the past three weeks.

 I was hoping for a dozen ears of corn from my few plants. I think we have 10?

I started only one pepper plant from a seed back this summer. It was a multi-colored pack, and I only had one pot left big enough to start a seed in. I had no idea what color pepper I would end up with, or even if the plant would do well. (Talk about putting all your eggs in one basket!). It turned out to be a fragrant yellow pepper. This little plant far surpassed my expectations and the peppers are perfect on salad. 

I also planted three bush cucumbers. They have produced a few small cucumbers, but not much. I was disappointed. A friend of mine had an over-abundant harvest and shared with us, though, so Mitch has enjoyed trying out several recipes for cucumber salad. It is a delight!

Sunday, August 17, 2014

Our Latest Construction Project

We always have projects going on around here...we are 14 weeks into this one so far...

{Hopefully you don't have to be a really nerdy person to notice the pattern.}

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Some Fun (or Funny) Things about Nicaragua

A post in pictures...beginning with food we ate.

This was breakfast at the hotel our first morning in Nicaragua. Some interesting things to note: those are hot dogs in the eggs (not spicy sausage). Bread served for breakfast tasted like what we would eat for dinner. It was mind-shifting! Rice and beans and fried plantains (platanos) were very common.

There was a small food stand inside the CNPEN compound where we slept each night. I was super excited when a Pepsi truck (with real GLASS bottles!) drove up the first day.

I thought it was a little odd when I noticed Nicaraguans walking around sucking on plastic bags, sometimes through straws, and sometimes just out of the corner of the bag. It turns out that because there is a deposit on the return of the glass bottles, vendors will pour the soda into a plastic bag and give it to you, rather than give you the bottle. While I was disappointed to not drink directly from the bottle, I did have a couple turns at drinking from a plastic bag. Interesting, to say the least. (And it was very sad how many plastic bags were in the streets and sewage ditches in the village).

Tip-top chicken is a Nicaraguan fast-food joint you just can't miss. Who would like some red (bubblegum) Fanta?

This is standard fare that we were fed for lunch each day. The meat varied, but the sauce (called salsa, but not anything like salsa...salsa is just the Spanish word for sauce), rice, and beans were the same. The soft tortilla is corn not flour.

Apparently there was some homemade juice that a woman sold out of the front of her home that was absolutely delicious...I'll take their word for it...I wasn't brave enough to try the mystery juice!

When we drove up to the resort/touristy area in the mountains we ate at a restaurant along the shore of the Laguna de Apoyo. I ordered fish, and this is what it looked like when it came:

Actually, it was quite good!

Ground Transportation...

Kids were often clamoring for a turn to ride in the back of Mario's pick-up truck. These guys learned the hard way (by the assistance of a police officer) that they must actually sit INSIDE the back of the truck, not up on the sides.

The rest of us traveled in safety inside this decommissioned school bus (which came years ago all the way from Indiana!).

In Nicaragua, the buses that come from USA do not have to be painted. This one bears the marks of its former school district. There were many buses like this all over Managua. Many buses, even some city buses, were painted with Christian sayings and Bible verses on them. (Oh how nice that would be in USA!).

We saw lots of "hungry" horses. In fact, I only saw one horse that looked healthy and not starved. Horses and carts often shared the roadways with motor vehicles. Nicaraguans also traveled by bikes, motorcycles (I saw a few of those spilled on the highway), city bus (hard to tell the difference between a city bus and a private bus), and also some little motorcycle taxi things...wish I had gotten a picture of those...

Well, there's always the universal mode of transportation, walking.  It made us very dirty.

One day I stood by the CNPEN outer fence and watched traffic for a very long time moving down the main highway. The disparity is amazing. I spent a lot of time pondering and asking questions. How do some in Managua live so well, while so many others live in poverty that most USA'ers (even those under the "poverty level") will never experience? Ok, hold that thought...this is supposed to be a fun post...

BEEP-BEEP  I forgot to mention the honking! I could write an entire post about driving in Managua. It was an experience to say the least. Many roads were narrower than we are used to. Maybe it was just me, but I felt like our drivers drove much faster than we would drive. I think the speed limit signs were just suggestions. But how would I know? The speedometer on the bus was broken. :) People honk frequently. Honking can mean "get out of my way" as it usually does in USA, but it can also mean: I'm not stopping, It's my turn to go, It is your turn to go but hurry up, I'm not picking you up, I will pick you up, I'm passing you, I'm in your blind spot, I'm going through this roundabout, Don't pull out in front of me, I'm behind you, and I'm sure many more things that I've forgotten. Mitch and I both were tempted to use our horns more liberally when we got back to the States. :)

Also, pedestrians do not have the right away. Get out of the way, or get hit. Really.

Experience a taste of it for yourselves:

CNPEN...the compound where we stayed at night.

CNPEN is sort of an association of evangelical pastors in Nicaragua (for lack of a better description). They provide support to pastors across the nation. Among others, we met Mario from CNPEN and two of his children and their families. They were a great help to us throughout the week, and it was easy to tell that they were old friends of Carol and Enrique. CNPEN was an interesting place. It was gated and protected by a 24-hour guard. The compound consists of several buildings and a large parking lot. At night trucks would pay to park in the secured lot. I was amazed at the parking solutions (ie: how many large vehicles they could cram into the parking lot, and just how they maneuvered in there). There were often large trucks hauling gravel or bricks, one night there were refrigerated trucks (which ran all night long), and there were always buses (did the city not have a city bus parking lot? apparently not). This was obviously a solution to keep trucks from being vandalized while their owners slept at night. They arrived late at night and left at the crack of dawn (which helped me wake up every morning by 6 am). Since our sleeping area was completely open air (open air does not mean fresh air), we smelled the diesel as we fell asleep and as we awoke. I personally form strong memories when attached to smells, so this will forever be a fond memory believe it or not. ;)

From google maps, here is an overhead shot of CNPEN. I wish there were such a shot at nighttime with the parking lot full! The white arrow is pointing to the main building (hidden by trees) and attached dormitory type area. The showers and restrooms were in the back of this area (no words to describe). The blue arrow is pointing to the open area where we slept. It was a meeting area, like a church. The yellow arrow is pointing to a row of buildings at the back of the compound. These buildings are clinics. There was a doctor's clinic, a pharmacy, an optometrist, and a dentist. There were people at the clinics every time they were open. (Go here to get a feel for how far CNPEN was from Santa Elena. Not far!)

 {Mario and Enrique having a little fun.}

 Meeting for debrief at night before we crash for the night. We each had about 3 thin mattresses, which we tried to place where a fan would reach each of us. Girls on one side of the building, boys on the other.

I know this post is getting terribly long. Sorry about that.

Friends and other random fun photos...

Carolina was always cutting up for the camera. I am going to do a post about her later.

We made friends with David Pavon, who came down to spend the day with us Sunday. His English was excellent, and it was awesome to have another translator helping us out for VBS and church services! Not only that, but I handed over my camera and he took photos for me too, meaning that I actually got to be in a few. :)

The kids in the village adored Darris. They said he looked like a famous soccer player, Messi, so that's what they called him all week long. This actually came in handy for one of the VBS skits where we talked about how the people turned from worshiping God to worshiping idols.

I personally loved having Gabe, the son of Enrique and Carol, along with us for the trip. He is 10 years old. I can't wait to get him together with Zeke and Josh, since they live only about an hour away from us.
 Yeah, if that had been Zeke (and it most certainly would have), I would have wanted to wring his neck too!
 Gabe is such a great kid!! He had a wonderful attitude about the trip and was so flexible.

This is why you should not be the first person to fall asleep. Haha.

The kids loved bringing their "pets" to VBS to show off.
 Love this picture...I bet it made you smile, too...

I forgot to put this one on a previous post. This is the little 3yo sister of Johanna. I tried so hard to endear her to myself. At least she did give me a hug goodbye. <3 p="">

My fingernails would.not.stay.clean.  I laughed and tried to tell the women (in my broken Spanish) that I needed to wash some dishes. It was so unbelievably dirty there.

Mitch, me, Hayley, and Esau (say "ay-saw-oo"). Esau was our bus driver for the week. He is a fellow brother in Christ. Mitch and I love him to pieces.

Hayley and Aaron both celebrated their birthdays in Nicaragua!

Mitch got to preach on Sunday morning at Esau's church.

Esau has five children (so far...grin). This is one of his sons, who is named Abdias Caleb (Obadiah Caleb).  How cool is that???  Such a handsome guy! My brother in Christ. He reminds me of my brother here in the states too.

After leaving the market and preparing to load the bus, all at once I looked down at the ground, which was covered with bottle tops. This is not anything unusual down there, but I can't believe it took me all week to think of this. Zeke collects bottle tops! Excitedly I yelled to Mitch, "Free souvenirs!" LOL We started picking up the best bottle caps we could find.
 What a good collection for Zeke!