Thursday, June 24, 2010

Cape Cod

We are on the beach on Cape Cod. I feel like I am in an Edward Hopper beach painting. Very light colored, very quiet, very considerate, cool.

This was real, but it felt like a dream. The first night here, I encouraged the boys to go down to the beach at midnight because I wanted them to do something normal in real life. But by 1:00 they weren’t back and I was worried that they were lost. I went out on the road to find them, but I didn’t know where the beach was and I didn’t have a flash light. But I knew they did. I walked right, but I just found a lit up house where someone was having a party. I was pretty sure they weren’t there. I went the other way on the road. I would see a light ahead of me and think, there they are coming home. But when I reached it, it was a firefly. The stars were an arc over my head and the frogs were singing a lonely song. The air smelled like honeysuckles and roses. The trees leaned in from both sides. I kept walking on the road and came to a sort of sandy area, but there were too many paths going off and I knew I would never find them there and I would get lost.

I found my way back to the house, with rising panic, but knowing that they were perfectly capable of finding their way home. I woke up Jonathan and tried to call Jules on his cell phone, but the phone called an old number of Jules’ in Nicaragua. Just as we were going to go out in the car, I heard their voices and the crunch of their feet on the oyster shell driveway. I went to bed and slept cozily in a high narrow bed.

This is the last post about my hair

Wednesday –

I got an email confirmation of my appointment Wednesday at Sam Brocata Salon in SoHo. Taking the subway from the Upper West Side stressed me out because I was so worried about being late. As I climbed out of the subway, I was completely disoriented and had to ask directions. I felt awkward interrupting a woman typing on her iPhone, but since everyone looked too busy to ask I had to. We guessed together and looked up and there indeed was Grand Street.

I walked down the stairway off of Wooster Street into a concrete floored, brick walled clean and simple space with mirrors everywhere. I was on time. Checked in with one of the two beautiful people behind the counter computers and was escorted to the changing room. Marisa, my colorist, willowy and all natural blonde (looking) sat me in her chair and talked about my color. When she was done, the equally understatedly pretty Lisa discussed the cut. They left, and Joy introduced herself and gave me a neck message. All this attention is making me feel anything but relaxed although the vibe in the place was very low key. Marisa returned and we chatted about Nicaragua and her baby August as she gently painted the dye into my roots. Next she filled a large squeeze bottle with golden brown goo and worked that through the rest of my hair. I perused Paper Magazine looking for people I know while the timer ran, digitally, out of sight.

Chelsea led me to a big sink and worked huge volumes of water and soap through my hair, but then she had to go. Randall rinsed and massaged and conditioned my head. He took me back to Lisa who considered and cut my hair, fixing all the angles but not radically changing it. Then she asked me if it should be curly or straight and I picked straight because I never do that. She pulled out her blow dryer. I loved it because my hair was soft and straight and reminded me of the way it felt when I was in kindergarten. She recommended two products to keep it that way and I said yes. I was terrified they would be super expensive.

But they weren’t. I am finally old enough to ask first. The cute young man rang up my bill and I was mentally prepared for it to be 10 times the Nicaragua price. But it was only a hundred dollars more than Seattle. The tip envelopes stared me in the face. By now I had come in contact with 5 people in the Salon, each of whom introduced themselves by name. I hopefully asked if the stylists shared their tips with the helpers. Not really. So I distributed another 20% among the envelopes. I cut out Chelsea because she passed me on to someone else.

I looked great. I felt like my younger self. Emma met me for lunch and browsing. I only bought a sweater because the day before I bought a Nicole Miller dress at Purdy Girl. When I got home it occurred to me it was the 2010 version of a dress I had about 10 years ago

Columbus Circle

NYC is sticker and culture shock after Granada. I am exhausted. Is it age? Where is that shot of adrenaline that usually accompanies the stay in New York? There is so much merchandise here. People really care about their stuff. What stands out is the increased number of chains on one end and the huge number of precious cupcake shops on the other. Also, everyone rushes down the street looking at smart phones.

I am acutely aware of the amount of promise the year ahead held as we made this same trip last year. On the brink of an adventure then and at the end of another ordinary year now. The brain habituates.

I am having transition issues. I feel overwhelmed by the world here. People ask me about Nicaragua and I am completely inarticulate, unable to explain the differences, impressions. I have, at many times, nothing to say.

Whole Foods. Wow.

Central Park is full of blooming linden trees. The best smell on earth. I am running kind of slow; I love being able to go out later in the day and not suffer from the heat.

Sunday, June 6, 2010

What my other half has been working on

It occurred to me that someone might be interested in what my husband has been doing this year. I haven't included the story of CO2Bambu in the blog, but it is an amazing social enterprise working on sustainable low cost housing and construction materials using Nicaragua's native Guadua bamboo. Jonathan joined the team for the year, and beyond we hope, to get things going and maybe just maybe it is ready to really take off.

You can see for yourself at

Saturday, June 5, 2010

Saying good-bye is hard

It is hard to imagine not being here anymore. One always feels needed, if one is lucky, and imagines a small hole ripped out of the fabric of the community upon departure. I know it closes up soon. But I feel a little uprooted.

These are in the order of the pictures on the camera.

Angel, very aptly named, showed up everyday at an ungodly hour to drive my kids safely back and forth to school in Managua. The Carretera Masaya was the thing I worried most about my whole time here. He crossed himself and said a prayer before each trip and it always made me feel better. He proactively avoided riots and demonstrations. I have never owned a cleaner car. He was genuinely horrified when I told him I wash my car at home only once or twice a year.

He will be doing some independent tourist driving for other operators and hopes to buy a car with his brother and have his own business soon. He and his wife are expecting a baby in July.

Moni was our personal chef for the year. She cooked delicious meals and did all my shopping. I was so happy not to have to go to the store and to have a whole year off of cooking. I learned how to cook Nicaraguan food and crepes from her. She made it possible for me to enjoy sunsets with a drink in my hand or to keep working right up to the moment dinner was ready. She showed up for work the day her father died and the day she was in labor. She is planning on starting a small cafe in her house across from the bus stop.

Cristina is the keeper of Perla del Norte and has taken care of us and the house since we started coming down here. She is the best housekeeper in town. I know because we had a few substitutes while she was on maternity leave and they were frightening. I can pick up from here and return back to my other life, knowing that everything will be taken care of.

Avi has been a great friend this year. He is such a mensch. I've loved having him as one of the family. Always ready to help with anything, he has been a great Torah reading, basketball playing example for my boys. He takes his work (peace corps) very seriously and I've loved getting to know lots of committed but realistic young folks through him. He will start the next phase of his life when he leaves Nicaragua at the end of the summer. But until then, where will he eat, where will he do his laundry, where will he surf the internet?

Laurence and Thelma are the folks we have known the longest in Granada. They have included us in all the fun from day one and shared innumerable tips. It's been great raising (ha!) our kids together for the year. They also hooked us up with great people including Moni and Angel. And the other third of the Wednesday night supper club Melodi and Jeremy and the girls. They are just starting their expat life in Nicaragua.

Good bye to the beloved neighbors al frente, across the street. I so enjoyed the long evenings drinking wine in this rum and coke life. Their danish/chilean house was always an oasis of graciousness. And their kids are damn cute.

And of course, the Lopez-Rodriguez family who welcomed us into their family and shared everything. The pig business is going great. Omar is setting up a jewelry workshop. Lucia and Silvia are continuing their studies

There are more, but I have to go pack and I'm afraid I can't find all the pictures of everyone at the moment due to an i photo issue

Running/bike route along the Lake

Took my camera on the run the other day and on a bike ride later when the sun was shining

Sanitation engineers

Family Transportation

Cows on the loose.

Goats eating mangoes

Construction site

Malinche tree - Thelma says there is a saying that marriage is like a malinche tree. Beautiful flowers changing into long dried up pods.

No weed wackers here.

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Eighth Grade Promotion

Noah ended up feeling like he made friends here, but there were times when I had grave concerns about the social experience at school. I really do want my kids to get out of their rooms, but when I hear about what goes on in the rough and tumble of adolescent life I wonder if it is worth it.

One last trip into Managua for Eighth Grade Promotion, except this time in a borrowed car because we already sold our beloved RAV 4. We sat by ourselves. The only person I marginally know, recognize, would be more accurate, is a mom who only speaks Korean and I didn’t see her when I sat down. The kids looked very spiffy in their dark pants/skirts and white shirts. Amazing how short and tight girls in eighth grade can interpret the dress code. It must be the age. I always feel the same way about the bat mizvah girl.

As the kids got up to get there diplomas, their names were like a who’s who of Nicaraguan business and politics. I usually cringe when teachers and administrators get up and say, you are the leaders of the next generation. Here though it is very likely true. It is a very small pond. These kids’ families have been in control for ages and they will continue. The student speaker, Krista, hit it right. She told her classmates, “We are sitting here under a million dollar roof [ANS has the largest covered athletic area in the country] and the only thing our country is famous for is poverty. What are we going to do?”

Noah said his not terribly emotional good-byes. With facebook, I guess you never really have to say good-bye. We went home to celebrate with lunch at Garden Café.