My host mom loves to tell me that I am going to get fat in Nicaragua. She tells me all the time that soon I am going to have a llanta (tire) of fat around my midsection. And not a small tire, either. She says I´m going to have a llanta de tractor. I tell her I´d rather keep my llanta de bicicleta and hope it doesn´t turn into a llanta de motorcycle.
But my host mom is probably correct that I will be gaining weight here, since it seems like all I eat is corn. I eat corn tortillas with breakfast, lunch, and dinner. I eat corn on the cob for a snack, and for dessert I eat corn pudding. I drink both hot and cold corn beverages, sweetened and unsweetened. I eat soups thickened with corn flour. I eat corn cookies, corn crackers, and corn breads. I´m getting a little sick of corn, but it is the basis of the diet here, and we are at the height of the corn harvest.
I am working on planting a garden, both so that I might have something to eat other than corn and to have something to do that will help me burn off some of the corn calories I´ve been so abundantly consuming. My garden is going to be in the front of the house I will soon be renting, next door to my host family´s house.
Not a lot of people have family gardens here because there are so many things that can go wrong with a garden. A horse can eat it. A chicken can scratch through it looking for worms and seeds. A pig can root it up. A fungus can grow on it. Insects can infest it. A virus can destroy it. But I´m trying anyway.
The day I set out to dig, my next door neighbor (who is also my host mom´s sister-in-law) came over to help. So did my land lord. And so did my neighbor´s son. With their help, what would have taken me all day took only a couple of hours. The whole time I kept thinking, Where else but in Nicaragua would my neighbors come out to help me dig my garden? The whole time we joked about how much of our llantas we were going to lose sweating like this. The four of us took turns with a pick axe, and after about an hour we had dug a three meter by three meter plot. I´m going to plant carrots, onions, tomatoes, peppers, watermelons - all of which are known and loved here - as well as a few crops that people here are unfamiliar with - kale, spinach and swiss chard. (When I showed my host mom my seed packets, she looked at the spinach and asked "Is this broccoli?")
In this picture of my house you can see where my garden is going to be - right out front. I can´t wait to get some chicken wire up and get started planting.
Names, a few favorites
Best sibling names - Marjelly and Marjulie
Best dog name - Escott, after the dog on the Scott toilet paper package
Best mis-spelling of a PC volunteer´s name - Hering, for Erin