>> Thursday, July 05, 2007
Before yesterday, I had never eaten a mango; the closest I had really come was the mango-flavored syrup at Sno Biz each summer. My host brother came home with some fresh mangoes and asked if I wanted to try one. When I said yes, I thought I would get a nice piece of mango to try. Instead, I received a gigantic mango and a couple of napkins. My host brother demonstrated on his mango how to peel the skin off in long strips with my teeth before eating the fruit. I can now say that I like mangoes, but that the act of eating the mango itself was by far my worst experience yet in Nicaragua.
First, I had to bite into the gross skin of the mango and peel it off without getting my nose and chin sticky. Then the wet, sticky mango was so big I could barely hold it in my hand. As I tried to eat it, I got mango juice everywhere (face, arms, shirt, and later I think I later discovered some mango stickiness on my forehead) and I had no idea that mangoes are incredibly stringy: I spent about 20 minutes flossing after I was done because probably 75% of the mango was in between my teeth as opposed to in my tummy. The rest of my family that was sitting with my on the porch thought my messy foray into mango-dom was hilarious and of course my host brother, Walter, ate every last bit of mango without getting a drop anywhere.
I think I’ve decided, however, that if the act of eating a mango remains my worst experience in Nicaragua, I’ll be doing okay.
2. Money in perspective
This morning after I put on a pair of pants, I was digging around in the pockets and pulled out a green bill. Immediately I thought it was a 10 cord bill (each bill here is a different color and 10s are green), but I quickly realized it was actually a $5 bill that I guess I left in there a while ago. Even though a $5 bill is worth a lot more than 10 cords, I was immediately disappointed because, while apparently you can use US money here, I would have been much more excited to have a 10 to use for the bus.
I think I’ve also become a lot more pinché (stingy) with my money here… I often find myself thinking, “What! That bottle of Coke is nine cords? No way!” even though nine cords is about 50 cents. After two years in Nicaragua with my new pinché attitude, I just may have saved up enough to buy a six-pack of Coke when I return to the States.
3. Yet another example of how incredibly nice my host mom is
Our entire training group has a day of charlas and meetings in one of the other training towns just about once a week. We are on our own for lunch on those days, and we usually go to one of a few pizza places that are in town. On a night when there was no electricity and I was trying to make conversation, I told Doña Petrona that I’ve been eating a lot more pizza here than I did in the States, but that I’m getting sort of tired of it and need to find a new place to eat. She was very alarmed by this and told me she would pack me a lunch tomorrow because pizza has too much grease. I tried to tell her that it was okay, that I could find somewhere else to eat, and that I was really just trying to make conversation, but she insisted on packing me lunch and planned out that I was going to get a tortilla española, a grilled cheese, a cookie, and a box of juice. That was fine, and I then jokingly told her that because she’s such a good cook, all the other aspirantes were going to be really jealous of me. Her response to that was that Paul wouldn’t need to be jealous because she was packing him the same lunch as well. I tried to insist that I didn’t want her to have to do the extra work and that it really wasn’t necessary, but I sensed pretty early on that it was a losing battle and I was going to be taking my sacks of lunches the next day whether I wanted to or not. The final surprise was that when the other girl in my Spanish class stopped by in the morning so we could ride the bus together, Doña Petrona also had a sack lunch (juice box and all) ready for her so she wouldn’t have to eat pizza either.
That afternoon, then, we all had our juice boxes and aluminum foil packages while everyone else was eating pizza. The moral of the story is that I should never just “make conversation” or “joke around”; I need to carefully consider all possible logical extensions of what I am going to say before opening my mouth, or I may be stuffing it with a cold grilled cheese later.