Is it already Day Three?  Is it only Day Three??  I’m not alone in our delegation in remarking at how quickly the time has passed, yet still feel like the time we’ve spent together has been long and fulfilling.  This is due to two factors: Firstly, the energy among the group is downright electric – in just a small timespan friendships have been forged, bonds solidified, and more than a handful of inside jokes.  Secondly, these days have been packed with plenty to do, and today was our most active yet.

The day’s theme was Culture – after an academic seminar where our Glimpsers had to brainstorm the ways culture between the U.S. and Latin America interact (television, music, clothing, etc), we took a deep intellectual look at what culture is, and how it works.  We discussed how it manifests itself in the art and language of a people, and how it passes down between generations unconsciously.  With our brains primed, we headed out to the first of our four cultural workshop experiences.

Our first visit was to the shop of Las Mujeres de Plomo, a company of local artisans who have, over the years, built a bustling business selling hand-crafted jewelry, using local seeds and plants in the place of ostentatious gems or metals.  After hearing an oral accounting of their history, the women of Las Mujeres privileged us by sharing their materials and allowing our Glimpsers to craft bracelets and necklaces with their own hands, the perfect gift for the families back home.

The second stop was Comedor Divino Nino, a family-owned eatery where our Glimpsers were taught the art of creating one of Nicaragua’s most treasured national dishes: the Nacatamal.  Layers of masa, marinated chicken, rice, potatoes, vegetables and mole sauce were all wrapped into moist banana leaves and cooked to perfection.  The best part?  We were able to finish our cooking workshop with a leisurely lunch at Divino Nino – the main course?  Nacatamales, of course.

With full stomachs, we learned the art of ceramica negra from Dona Ernestina Rodriguez, whose family has been crafting beautiful sculptures and goods from local black clay for over eight generations.  After a bit of history, our Glimpsers were given lumps of clay of their own and charged with breathing artistic life into them before they face the oven.  In eight days, we’ll get to see the results.

Our sculptures, pre-oven.

Our sculptures, pre-oven.

The delegation gets a little silly in Dona Ernestina's store.

The delegation gets a little silly in Dona Ernestina’s store.

Last and definitely not least, we had an invigorating dance class (the best way to burn off those Nacatamal calories!) with local dancemaster Marcos.  From Hip Hop to Salsa to traditional Nicaraguan dances, we learned a bevy of intense moves.

Still silly after dance class!

Still silly after dance class!

Sweaty and running on adrenaline, we finally returned home to our hostel for dinner, the nightly meeting, and some self-reflection.  It was agreed that today was our best yet, and we’re all excited for what lays on the horizon.  Until then, we may want to catch a few Zs… after all, tomorrow we’re going back to school.

Quick Note: Remember that you can leave comments on these blog posts to be read at our nightly meetings.  Let us share your questions, well-wishes, and pride from home with those out here in Matagalpa!