*Note: This blog contains some colourful language. My apologies to all the nuns, priests, bishops and polite people who read it.
Spanish is one of those languages that can get you into trouble, especially when you travel to different Spanish-speaking lands. The word for t-shirt in Paraguay can be easily confused with the word for prostitute in Nicaragua. The word “to take” means something….um…. a little different in almost all of Latin America than it does in Spain. It’s always a funny moment when religious try to explain to me the different nuances and I enjoy it immensely, just as they enjoying laughing at me.
As I went around the barrio today with one of the health promotors Marcel, I had the honour of someone thinking I was Spanish (from Spain!!!) Good sign.
It means that my Spanish is improving to a level that people don’t realise I am a native English speaker….or it could have just been that I stayed reasonably quiet while the guys spoke?? Probably the latter I imagine!
The cold showers continue, but the water comes out of a tiny metal tube with about a two centimetre radius, so it felt quite luxurious today after a “caminata” in the barrio.
I wrote my first blog in Spanish yesterday, which needed a bit of correction obviously by one of my new friends Josue who works as a community development promotor in Nueva Vida.
The blog was about the transition that “Redes de Solidaridad” is making from assistencialism to a model of development. It talks of charity versus development and the strengths and challenges of this. I was imbibing a bit of the spirit of Dom Helder Camara to come up with what to say about this. It will be published this coming week and I’ll try and translate it here.
Had the opportunity to Skype with my cat today (well, also Mum and Dad, but hey! Priorities!). She was a little grumpy because it was 11am and, like her mum, she isn’t one to get up early 😉
The funniest thing I’m finding is what translates over here and what doesn’t. The kids are quite surprised and excited to receive koalas and kangaroos, although they have no idea what they are.
Indeed, a lot of people look at me blankly when I say I’m from Australia, but one thing they do have here from Australia is Hillsong music! There is a plaza right next to the sisters’ house, and last night, they were having a loud worship session with Spanish versions of the songs. The music is quite good actually and I will admit to having downloaded a lot of the songs myself, so I recognise them.
It did however make for a kind of funny prayer session with the sisters as we listened to a more contemplative, simple guitar song with loud drums and praise and worship in the background, but it is all part of the experience.
I admire the energy and enthusiasm for evangelisation. They’ve been singing for hours. Haven’t been to mass yet in Nicaragua (Fair go! It’s Friday and I arrived Tuesday).
Something tells me that the Catholic mass will be a little different to the praise and worship in the barrio.
All of that said, evangelicalism is something of a controversy in the barrios of Latin America. The growth is unprecedented and they say it’s political. I’m interested to learn more about this debate, but for the moment, I hope to just be open to it all.
Perhaps Bishop Michael Putney’s new book on his Ecumenical journey could be translated into Spanish and used here for reflection?
It makes me laugh at myself to realise the things I thought I would need here and either brought with me to clutter up my luggage or forgot and left at home. In many ways, life here “exige” (forces) a shedding of layers.
I love frothy milk and left my milk frother at the ACBC secretariat. #firstworldproblems. Hope the gang there enjoy it (Aoife!! Make yourself a latte and bring back fair trade to the office por favor!!)
My favourite jumper hasn’t been worn since getting off the plane in LA, so it’s going home to lighten my load.
Exercise and going for runs (okay, walks) is a bit of a challenge. First of all, the humidity is so intense that I’d return looking like a drowned rat…..and secondly, it’s too dangerous.
So, I will probably arrive in Paraguay as a “gordita” or “enorme” as the women like to remind me. “Ay Beth!! Estas muy gorda ahora.” (Beth, you are very fat now.). Not sure if that translates favourably in any language, but hey, it is what it is.
My exercise in these days has consisted of walking around the barrio in thongs and returning covered in mud and dust.
I’m advised that in Ciudad Sandino and especially in Nueva Vida to walk anywhere alone brings a certain suspicion and increases the possibility of being robbed, especially when you are a “blanquita” like me. (oh to be tanned!!!)
So, we always go in pairs like Vincentians or Jehovah’s Witnesses.
I’ve turned a peculiar shade of pink, which as most of you know is my favourite colour, but I kinda resemble Bridget Jones in the part of the movie where she puts on her makeup without a mirror.
Another #firstworldproblem is the recording of podcasts here. Noise starts at 5am and continues well into the night. Earplugs were an excellent investment. The fan needs to be turned off so that there is no background noise, and even three minutes without it leaves me sweltering.
So the podcasts will be done in the silence of the evening and if there is a rooster in the background, I think it just adds to the authenticity, right?