After spending much of the morning at home looking at potential graduate school options I decided to get out and enjoy the nice day. Our landlady, Doña Norma, happened to by driving by so I was able to stop her and show her our broken oven and leaky sink. Supposedly she is sending someone to fix both issues tomorrow, but it’s
I wanted to go visit my friends Sonia, Kevin, and Ninoska, the street kids I had lunch with on Friday and debated whether to take a bus or a taxi to the Metrocentro area. I decided on the bus and boarded the trusty 117 near our house. The bus was fairly crowded – I was forced to stand – but not too bad. A few stops later, however, about 25 more people boarded the bus and I understood that, out of necessity, Nicaraguans do not have the respect for personal space that I’m accustomed to. I was holding onto a pole, sweating like crazy, apologizing for my backpack being right in this woman’s face. At this point I started to question my choice to take the bus.
Any doubt I had that I should have paid the $1.50 for a taxi was erased when we picked up about 10 more people at the next stop. Although I don’t usually have any problems with claustrophobia I was starting to get a bit uncomfortable. I wasn’t able to move, much less get off, when we reached my stop, so I rode the bus for another 10 minutes or so until I could squeeze through and reach the back door. I realized I was near the Huembes market, quite far from Metrocentro, and took a cab to meet the kids. Lesson learned – don’t take the bus during the lunch hour! :)
I walked through Metrocentro and out to the street where I had met the kids on Friday. I didn’t see them at first but I guess that they saw me, as they ran across the street and gave me big hugs. They asked me what I had for dinner last night, and when I told them “chicken and rice” they told me, laughing, they had “solo uñas” for dinner. It took me a couple seconds but I remembered that “uñas” means “fingernails.”
Two of their friends, Milton and Carlos, joined and we headed into the food court for lunch. On the way the girls wanted to stop at the bathroom so the fellas and I hung out and waited in front of one of the shops nearby. A security guard approached us and started ushering the kids away. Only when I told him that they were with me did he stop bothering them. After the girls rejoined us and we started walking towards the stairs, passing him along the way. I heard him say on his radio “cinco niños…” I remembered that the kids were hesitant to enter Metrocentro because they were wearing dirty clothes, and now I realized why.
We enjoyed a nice lunch of pollo frito (fried chicken) from Pollo Campero. At one point I asked if they wanted to learn English and they all excitedly responded, “si!” So, thus commenced our informal English lessons. We learned the English words for all of the food we were eating as well as how to say, “my name is,” and some numbers.
After lunch we walked back to the corner where the kids work and I promised to meet them again tomorrow for lunch and more English lessons. We hugged goodbye and I started walking up the street. About 30 seconds later I heard the kids calling my name and saw them running up to me, wanting to walk with me to the next major road. They starting talking about lunch tomorrow and, after repeating their sentences many times, I finally understood that they were telling me they were going to bring ropa limpia (clean clothes) to lunch tomorrow.
I loved eating with the kids today and am looking forward to tomorrow’s meeting. Maybe none of my attempts at finding a job are working out so I would be free to hang out with some street kids during the day. Who knows? I am learning, albeit reluctantly and quite slowly, to stop asking “why?” and instead pose the hypothetical question, “why not?”