Last day in the village of San Isidro, Nicaragua, and it will be a sad departure.
Today is Tortuga Fest for our two writing classes, with cake and music and of course an award ceremony. 12 blossoming young writers will receive special prizes - sets of colored pencils, all the rage around here - for specific strengths of their stories. Gabriel, a quiet and hardworking boy who plays the flute and joined in the second week of our workshop wins for "best use of suspense" in his story, "The Intelligent Turtle". Spunky Abraham wins most creative title "N.C.H.D.T." (No Comen Huevos de Tortuga - Don't Eat Turtle Eggs). Francisco (about 12 yrs), a star student who encouraged the others by reading his story to the class as they were working, will win for his use of detail. Check out the beginning of his story (please excuse the rough translation):
"It was a hot day, and the waves of the ocean were calm. A sea turtle swam with his babies under the surface of the water, and all was calm. The fish swam happily as the turtle and her babies floated along without a problem. This turtle and her babies spent most of their time in the sea, although sometimes they would spend a little time in the un one the beach. One day..."
There are many good stories to share. A shout-out definitely goes to thhe story about the Bougie Frog and the Turtle (I've translated fochenta as bougie...), and also to the story where a mother buys turtle eggs in the market only to discover that her daughter has adopted and brought home the mother turtle, resulting in a happy family reunion and return to sea :)
Before I sign off from Nicaragua for a week break before Cambodia, I'll leave you with a couple fun learnings about Nicaragua:
* Nicaraguans point with their lips. (Thanks to Bridget for pointing this out - it's a mannerism I'm considering adopting). Want something over in the corner? You'd better air-kiss toward it.
* If you need something, plan for 6 times as much time as you might expect. Por ejemplo, yesterday we wanted to buy cake for today's party. Pretty easy, we're told, since there are some places with cake. After an hour sitting under a star-fruit tree watching Natacha the feisty puppy repeatedly torture the cat (I seemed to be the only one disturbed by this) while talking local politics, we met the smartest little 8 year old around who named all the major U.S. cities and taught us about turtles, and accompanied us in the bed of a pick-up truck to the cake-store. Somehow this took 5 hours. No idea how. Pretty cake though.
I highly recommend Nicaragua to anyone. There is a huge amount of naturaleza here, the people are friendly, and it's not touristy in most places (even San Juan Del Sur is more backpackery than touristy, and the cafe Gato Negro is a dreamy Nicaraguan seaside version of a Brooklyn cafe, missing only the skinny jeans - not too much to lament over). A little money will go far, and all you need is a dictionary, some bravery in use of Spanish, and say "Adios" or "Buenas" to those who pass by.