We are definitely in the tropics. By 6:00 a.m. the sun was pouring into our windows. Students were escorted to breakfast at 8:00 a.m. by members of their host families. As we ate scrambled eggs with ham, gallo pinto (red beans and rice), queso suave (soft white cheese), fresh squeezed orange juice, bananas, bread, and coffee, the students recounted their first evenings with their host families. Although there were awkward silences as some of them sought ways to express themselves, everyone declared their delight with their welcome into local homes.
A small bus arrived to take us on a tour of Managua, Our first stop was the nearest upscale mall to go to a bank to exchange cash and withdraw money from the ATM. We strolled the mall and enjoyed fresh mango and orange juice at a cafe before heading to the national Roman Catholic cathedral, built to welcome Pope John Paul II for his historic visit. Then we returned to the barrio for lunch. after which students worked together enthusiastically to prepare their step routine for the upcoming twenty-fifth anniversary assembly on Thursday. The bus returned and took us to a newly developed park on the shores of Lake Xolotlan (formerly Lake Managua). We enjoyed the refreshing breeze off the lake as we walked through a scale model of Managua´s commercial district before the terrible earthquake of 1972 flattened it. Students were able to view the original cathedral intact and later in the afternoon see the ruins of the original, which still stands. We also visited full scale replica models of the houses of two national heros–the revolutionary leader Augusto Sandino and the symbolist poet Ruben Dario. We spent some time on a nearby gigantic plaza with a statue of Simon Bolivar mounted on horseback. Major national celebrations occur there, but today we took in part of a musical comedy routine that was being enjoyed by families, couples, and young folks gathered on the sunny Saturday afternoon. We continued to a neighboring park, Paseo Salvador Allende, taking in more of the coastline and appreciating the refreshing breeze off of the lake.
The bus took us back to Barrio Riguero via a different route so that we could see the original buildings that survived the earthquake and are still standing. Soon we were enjoying supper, accompanied by fresh-squeezed mandarin and watermelon juices. Students chatted as they waited for their host family members to come to escort them home for the evening.
Cheri and Carolyn