This has been an eerie week for us all. Garrison and Onyema were both sick on Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday; I also received shocking news on Monday night that a best friend of mine from high school died in a rock climbing accident. Monday night I wanted nothing more than to simply come home and be done with my work here. I was already beginning to get a little homesick and frustrated with the cultural clashes and language barriers…that the news of Eric’s death just reaffirmed my longing to be back in Cary. Unfortunately that’s not the way life works. I couldn’t just get up and leave from the progress we’ve made here…. I’ve never been one to give up when things get rough. It’s been really hard to deal with being alone, and so far from home, but I know that with great difficulty comes great ease. If you didn’t know Eric, he was a wonderful human being who made such an immense impact on those close to him. Here are a few articles on just how special he was, and you can also find a tribute I wrote and published online as well. For now, there’s not much I can do but pray for him and his family and for the rest of my loved ones at home.
On Tuesday when both Onyema and Garrison were sick, I spent the afternoon working in a quaint little café near my house called Café du Parc where I ran into some 33 year old Nicaraguan man who also had Palestinian ancestors. When I initially asked if he was Muslim, he said no; and then returned 5 minutes later saying that he was in fact, Muslim. He was awfully sketchy considering he then sat outside of the café and continued to stare at me through the window. Before I left he asked me if I had Facebook or a Yahoo Chat (can you say FOB???). I laughed and sad no, but that my dad did. I’ve never seen somebody look so scared so quickly. He hasn’t bothered me since. During this same day, while I was on my way home from the café, somebody on a motorcycle stopped me in the middle of a busy, 7-way intersection asking me where he could Garrison Gordon. Most of the streets in Masaya are parallel and straightforward…except for the infamous 7-way intersection. Never before in my life have I had to look 7 different directions before crossing a street. Ever. To give you a precursor, a few weeks ago some man stopped us on the street and said that he wanted us to befriend his kids because he wanted them to have American friends. The man asked for our phone numbers and where we lived. I told him I didn’t have a phone and that I also didn’t know where I lived….Garrison, on the other hand thought it would be a good idea to give his number. Later that week, the man called Garrison’s house looking for him….which is typically what happens when you give strangers your number. To give Garrison some credit….he was just being really polite (and also pretty naïve). Anyways, so we haven’t heard from the man since….until I was stopped in the 7-way intersection by the man’s son…who yet again wanted to befriend us and also wanted to know where I lived. Once again, I lied saying I still didn’t have a phone and still didn’t know where I lived (even though I was on my way home). He then said his name was Cedar and that his dad had told him to be on the lookout for the “Arab girl with the scarf on her head”…and as luck would have it, he found me. It was scary knowing that I was so easy to find…Even though I will admit it is a little hard for me to blend in here. Cedar asked me to give Garrison his phone number and to please call him so that we could all be friends. I said sure and walked around the block 4 times to make sure he wouldn’t follow me home and finally know where I lived.
On a less creepy note: as we close in on our 7th week here in Masaya, we have made considerable progress with our air quality stove project…so much progress that we actually decided to coin our product: NicAire.
Our metal surrounding pieces were finally finished (Alhamdullilah!) on Thursday afternoon, so we picked them up and transported them to the Bombanaci community that afternoon. The pieces were a little larger than we expected, and it took us a while to decide how exactly we would transport them across town. We eventually hailed down a taxi who was Nicaraguan, but his grandparents were Palestinian and Muslim, so he was interested in hearing where I was from. After dropping off the pieces to the community, we returned to Masaya to work more on the NicAire manuals and also the pamphlets we are making for the health clinic.
Today we finally got to cementing the stoves together, and I will post how that went later on, but for now I have to hurry and pack for the weekend to ensure that I catch the last bus to Managua! Nicaragua only has one masjid and it’s in the center of Managua. I’m hoping to catch the bus in time to make for Maghrib, but if not, I’ll definitely make it for Ishaa! I’m so excited considering I haven’t been to a masjid for the past 8 weeks.