We arrived in Managua, Nicaragua, last night after a relatively uneventful flight from SF, via Houston. Greeting us warmly (literally and figuratively) were our hosts – Amanda, Kathy, and Halle. We used almost every inch of the three vehicles with our stuff, which included 12 huge bags of donated clothing (more on that later).
We arrived at “el Salero” (literally, “The Saltshaker”) at about 10:00 local time and devoured scrumptious brownies and lemonade that Kathy had prepared. After getting the rundown from Amanda and Halle, we went to bed to the sounds of insects chirping, roosters crowing, mangos falling onto the tin roof, the three dogs barking, and two periodic whistling of guards, who patrolled the grounds armed with whistles and a .22 rifle. Thankfully, it wasn’t nearly as hard to fall asleep (and stay that way) as it sounds.
Our first full day here was a blast. We helped our hosts put on a “tombola” and a clothing sale. Local women and children (and a few men) were lined up at the front gate of “el Salero” at 7:00, hoping to get low numbers that would allow them first dibs on the clothing. The “tombola” involves goody-bags and lots of kids. Basically, the kids pay a nominal fee to get a bag of cool stuff. We started the day with 200 bags and ended with 9. It was great fun. Several of the ladies on the team made swords, belts and dogs out of balloons for the kids.
The clothes we brought (and others that were here already) were devoured by the shoppers looking for good clothes at a great price (10 cordobas (45 cents) per item). Shoppers were limited to 15 articles of clothing (and no more than 2 pairs of shoes, which were very popular) in their first go round. More than 75 shoppers came through, and the clothing piles were depleted rapidly. el Salero made $350 on the clothing, and the locals left thankful for the deals.
The afternoon was filled with a little work, lots of fun and some relaxation. Some team members cleansed (with brooms, mops, a hose, and elbow grease) the floor of the wall-less building where the clothing sale had occurred. Others read, played basketball, showered up, or helped load software onto the computers in the center’s new library.
Dennis was spotted playing “baseball” (really, Jenny and Sam tossed him mangos to swing at with a wooden plank – they got splattered a few times). He also helped them with their “fielding” (he knocked mangos off the tree with a 30+ foot bamboo pole while they circled underneath trying to catch the falling fruit.
All in all, it was a great day. We ended with a dinner of nachos, fruit salad, and banana cake, dominos, more reading, and a movie (“Starsky and Hutch”). Tomorrow (Sunday) will probably be pretty easy, too, but the tough work starts on Monday. We’ll be ready! Thanks for your prayers.