While we spent yesterday learning about the history that makes Nicaragua so fascinating, today we really got a glimpse (ha ha) of the unique culture that drives daily life here in the mountains. The glimpsers started their day with pancakes, a game of slap the chair that almost escalated to brutality, and a thoughtful, reflective conversation during which they started to think about how culture is created and maintained by sharing important parts of their home culture with each other. They acknowledged the stereotypes that they already had about Latin American culture and some of the negative associations that Nicaraguans might have about American culture as well before deciding to charge into the day with open minds.
In San Ramon, just a short drive away, we met four indigenous women who support their families and their communities by making jewelry from seeds and recycled materials collected from their neighborhood. Even through the language barrier, they taught us how to make necklaces and bracelets, so parents, look forward to some hand made (or at least hand purchased) gifts when your glimpses get home!
After our jewelry lesson, we had some time to kill before our lunch, so we were taken on a tour of the community, joined by new children and new stray dogs at every turn… until we reached the soccer field. The local kids challenged us to a game, and we spent the next 40 minutes demonstrating some really excellent soccer skills (Taryn and Jodie), practicing our Spanish to get to know our new teammates (Sarah and Jordyn), and showing everyone how to keep a great attitude even when eating dust and bleeding everywhere (other Jordan–don’t worry, parents, he was well taken care of and the arm probably will not require amputation).
For lunch we learned how to make nacatamales, a Nicaraguan tamale that takes like heaven, and then almost immediately regretted how much we ate when we attended a dance class back in Matagalpa. We had some enthusiastic students from the dance studio walking us through the steps of at least three dances, including the bachata and the meringue, and for an hour and a half everyone learned to move their hips, wave their arms, and shake it like there’s no tomorrow. This was a real highlight of the day, and plans have already been made for a dance-off to show off our new moves in a future nightly meeting.
Starting tomorrow, you’ll be reading messages written by Glimpsers instead of their boring leaders, as students are now getting comfortable enough with the town and with each other to take on leadership roles in the group. Before I finish my last message to you all, I just wanted to say a heartfelt thank you to all of our glimpsers and the families who have raised such awesome kids. Today was my birthday, and I have received so many gifts and had happy birthday sung to me in at least two languages, all by people I just met a few days ago. Its a real testament to the enthusiasm and spirit of our glimpses that this trip is off to a such a great start and that they can make a foreign country really feel like home!