Fighting a Cold

I could hardly have designed a better experiment in a laboratory. I’m offered food from a plastic bin at the high school where we work and it’s not really a question of whether I want to eat it (it is food, after all), but whether it’s a good idea. I don’t give it much thought, but as soon as I purchase what I know is a typical Nica dish I look down at the styrofoam in my hands and pause. Sam looks at me meaningfully and says “Dude, last time I had that salad on top there, I was in hell for a day.” I consider the situation. I had already bought the food, I had been in Nicaragua for four weeks building immunity, and I felt pretty confident about the food processor that is my stomach. “Well,” I say, “everything else in my diet has been normal, so if tomorrow I’m feeling the hurt at least we’ll know where it came from.” Not wanting to rob the scientific community of a perfectly good opportunity to test a hypothesis, down the hatch it went. Deep-fried breaded pork rinds and all. It was without a doubt the worst food I’ve had in this country and if my blatant tempting of fate hadn’t tipped me off, the immediate anger of my tummy should have clued me in to the visit from the D-fairy not 20 hours later. That’s right. Diarrhea. Not as bad as I’ve heard it can get, but my theory at this point is that the left hook that the unfortunate brunch dealt to my bodily defenses Saturday left me unprepared for the cold that came in with a mean uppercut on Sunday and kinda laid me out for most of this week. It could have been worse, but I’m glad to be emerging now. What have I learned? Just because it’s food doesn’t mean I should eat it. Also, listen to Sam. Always.

Apart from single-handedly driving the Kleenex, napkin and toilet paper markets just keeping my nose from dripping in public, I’ve been learning Spanish, teaching class, visiting the US embassy in Managua, shopping in interesting markets, getting more training and spending time with my family.


This is me with my sister Alicia and cousin Wilber


Teaching English this week was more of a learning experience that outright victory, I’d say. Turns out that facing 35 skeptical kids while on antihistimines and sinus meds is harder than it sounds. Well, maybe it’s exactly as hard as it sounds. I came up with about 8 aspects of my teaching that could use improvement and two things that I tried out and worked really well. So progress is good and we had a really encouraging youth group on Wednesday. We focused on listening comprehension and had the kids watch a skit and guess where it occurred, what was happening and what would happen next. Then we broke them into two groups and they had to write their own skits to get the other group to answer those same three questions. Great success. Next we booked it to the Embassy to meet with someone about the fellowship programs that they offer to Nica students. I’m excited to tell some of our kids about the opportunities available to them to go to English summer camps here or to study in the United States through the Fullbright program. Last Sunday was an adventure in a bigger city with my training town peeps. We wanted to get pizza for lunch and do some exploring of both the artisan fair and the normal market. The artisan fair is beautiful and uninteresting, but the regular market for non-tourists is really something. It’s a sprawling, patchwork zinc-roofed dirt and concrete floored, supremely crowded source of anything under the sun. It reminds me of a mix between a flea market, street vendors, a farmer’s market and a mall. You can walk into one side of the market and not see open space again for 25 minutes of walking in one direction. The passages between the small vendors of clothes, tools, candy, meat, dvds, and household appliances are about 3 feet wide and trash piles up in places to form a kind of carpet. It’s a maze of designer American clothes, severed pig heads, soccer balls, bike repair shops and fruit stands. The air is thick enough to choke on through the unrefrigerated, open butcher area and sweet enough to drink next to the fruit or spice stands. The salespeople spend all day in a 10×10 square trying to sell shirts, shoes or toys and on a hot day the metal roofs radiate heat into the stale passageways. It’s a fascinating place where I’d like to spend more time studying, but I need to find out when I can go and not be squeezed like a toothpaste tube between seven people in a tiny space. I’ll try to take pictures next time. The next adventure will be climbing a volcano with our whole group (TEFL and Environmental trainees) on Saturday, as long as the rain doesn’t…well…rain on our parade.


2 responses to this post.

  1. Posted by Janet Boddy on October 9, 2010 at 9:03 am

    Andrew – looking forward to Skyping tomorrow night! So, what was it that you were eating and what options do you typically have when you are in a school for the day? From the context it sounded like deep fried pork rind salad? What is the cost of what you had (could have had) in terms of the Nica economy and in dollars?



  2. Posted by Courtney on October 9, 2010 at 12:27 pm

    Hey there Andrew! I am glad to hear that you are feeling better! That sounds like a nasty cold. I am just getting over one myself, so, I can relate.

    I hope that your mountain climbing today goes well! I look forward to the pics! Hope the rain holds out for you!



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