Who has the power to even wake up at 3 o’clock in the morning?! That’s just bizarre, but WE do. Yes, we woke up at 3 in the morning just to eat a plate of gallopinto (rice and beans). Just kidding, today’s main activity was “Living on a $1 a Day,” which means we used no electricity, no running water, nada! After eating breakfast at Quiero Mas once again, we traveled to Los Barzones, a small rural community outside of Leon, by a private bus. While everyone fell asleep on the way there, I was thinking, thinking about what to expect and how I should react to what I will see when I get to our destination. That’s just me, I like to think ahead just to be safe and ready for what comes. As we drove through rough tracks and uneven dirt roads, I noticed many cows standing inside of wood fences which instantly reminded me of farms. We stopped at the first neighborhood we saw because we needed one of the family members from the community to guide us to our final destination. Many families were woken up from the chickens and some were attentive to our bus, maybe because they don’t usually see a bus full of foreign people everyday.
As we were walking to the community we were going to “live” with for the day, we had to battle with MUD because it had rained A LOT the night before. Because I am one of the leaders, I had to stay in the back of the line to make sure no one was left behind. I was glad I stayed in the back of the line because one of the first things that threw a smile on my face was witnessing Jasmina slip into the mud. Sorry Jasmina! Call me a bad leader, but it was just too funny watching someone fall in slow-motion. Watching everyone battle through the rocks, dirt, and mud was bittersweet because it reminded me of home, or my family, actually. It reminded me of my family because I went on a hike with 16 of my family members in the mud when we went on a vacation to Hawaii. It was tiring and annoying because our shoes were covered in mud, and most of us kept on worrying about slipping into the mud. Ahhhh…good times.
Anyways, we were split into 3 groups of 6 and escorted to our new “families.” Once my group got to our new family, I instantly noticed the bathrooms and house. The house was made out of large crinkled sheets of metal and aluminum and plastic. There weren’t any real doors or windows, just holes. I also saw cows, chickens, ducks, roosters, and pigs as their pets or their food. This shows me how they use their resources to the last straw, and I feel that I can relate to that because coming from a low income family, I’ve learned how to make use out of everything I have, just like food. Though we don’t always have fine dining, we incorporate our own ideas and create plates that we’ve never seen before. I was able to relate to these families just from looking at where they live, what they have, and what they do.
The first family member we met was our “Mother of the Day” whose name was Candida. Literally, the moment we arrived and caught a glimpse of the house and its surroundings, we were led to the field. The field was barren with lots of fallen bamboo sticks, dried up grass, weeds, and unfortunately for us, lots of horse and cow dung. Our jobs in the field were to either collect wood that would be used for the family’s cooking fire, or to use a machete to cut down very stubborn weeds. Using a machete was a really cool experience since I don’t think any of us had used a machete before, and I can’t think of what we would use one for back home…?? After about 2 hours, the jobs became tiring, and we felt fatigued. As the job became less and less fun and more back-breaking, I thought to myself that I shouldn’t be complaining because this family has to do this work everyday for a long period of time, which is more than I can ever imagine. Once Candida came home from dropping her granddaughter off at school (the only one in the family currently attending school), she told us to follow her back to the house where she graciously welcomed us into her home to show us around. Her house consisted of 2 rooms: the kitchen/dining room and another room which had about 10 ‘sleeping areas’ (by “sleeping areas” I mean that there were about 2 beds, a few hammocks, and some laid out mattresses) all for 12 family members. There were no lights, no television set, or computers, just a small radio that would allow the family to be informed about events in Nicaragua and maybe other countries. They also had a concrete area in the corner of the kitchen where Candida would burn wood to form a cooking fire. Next to the fire, she also had a large pot of corn that she said would be used to make corn tortillas. After the house tour, we went outside to where the cows were, and Candida showed us how a cow is milked. We were going to milk the cow as well, but Candida informed us that the cow was too nervous, and it could be dangerous, especially since we’re inexperienced. After Candida finished milking the cows, her 13-year-old son and she untied all the cows and herded them to the field where we had worked earlier that morning. We helped herd the cows and some horses towards another field where they were free to graze. We also got to walk a little ways with Candida, which gave us opportunities to ask her some questions about her life before and after marriage, and she asked us questions about our lives in the U.S. We walked back to the house as the son supervised the animals, and took some chairs to sit down in the shade and hang out with Candida some more.
We learned all about how she once had gone to school, but when she was 20-years-old, the revolutionary war had broken out, so she had to stop her studies. Since then, she lost interest in school, got married, and had children. We asked her if she ever wished for her children to go to school, and she answered yes, but she cannot send them because she has some health problems, and she needs them to work in the field and take care of the animals. She also has older daughters who work in sugar cane fields to provide for their family. Hearing her stories reminded me of the stories my mom had told me about her childhood in Fiji. My mother also had to take care of her family and siblings by cooking for them, working in the fields and so much more. The thing that bothered me–and I probably would be speaking for the majority of us who were there–was the fact that the kids can’t get proper education because of how much they have to work.
OH! We also got to play with the super adorable chicks and ducklings after having lunch!! From all the feedback, I could say that each of us experienced or saw at least one thing today that we will always remember and share with our friends and families back home.
Imagining our next adventure,
Jenny & Renu