Monday, September 17, 2007

texas or bust

In about 10 hours, I will be on a plane to the great State of Texas for the first time in 17 months. So don't expect much blogging until I return to Nicaragua October 1st...

Saturday, September 15, 2007

at the bisou bisou

Andrea and I were pretty psyched to try out this cute new restaurant, Bisou Bisou, on the southern edge of Managua yesterday--our first crepes in a LONG while (check out A's banana and nutella below, yum!). The menu also boasted other delectable looking temptations like bread bowl soups, salads, and all manner of coffee bevs. Unfortunately, I think it will be another long while before we go back, because of the prices. And, though it's hard to see much of the ambiance in these pics, the place was adorable. Wooden tables, fresh-cut flowers, wrought iron candelabra on the wall, black and white photos of sweet kisses, etc. If it weren't for the reggaeton club music blasting into the air, I might have thought I had left the country.
And speaking of leaving the country, I will be in the great State of Texas in about 2 days for a 2 week visit, so if you'd like to get together at some point (or even if you don't or can't), drop me a comment. I love hearing from you!

(I had the spinach and cheese crepe, which was also delicious but not nearly as mouthwatering as this one.)

Friday, September 14, 2007

dias patrias

Feliz Dias Patrias, Nicaragua!
For the one or two history buffs reading, today Nicaraguans celebrate their victory in the battle of San Jacinto against the forces of American William Walker, who temporarily took over the country (and even tried to make English the official language for a while!) in the 1850s. Tomorrow Nicas and all of Central America celebrates their independence from Spain, won in 1821.
(Pictured above: my coworker Hultner's daughter dressed in traditional Nica clothing for a school celebration this week.)

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

driving in the rain [yes, it's scary]

My most hair-raising experience in Managua in months came today, mid-afternoon when I drove Andrea and I's new roommate Alicia through several flooded city streets en route to the airport to pick up her luggage, which arrived a day late. Given that it was her first Nica downpour, she had to record the moment.
I know, it looks like the water covered the engine, but really it just reached the top of the tires. But I was still pretty freaked out. Some parts of life in Managua just never become ordinary. Streets that become rivers is one of them.

Sunday, September 09, 2007

dr. francisco

You may remember that Andrea and I have these awesome neighbors, the Gutierrez family. Francisco and Alicia, in case you've forgotten, live across the street from us, and they and their 3 college age kids have been a continuous and tangible expression of God's grace in my life since my very first week in Nicaragua. Francisco is a doctor--a pediatrician by specialty--but now directs one of the most prominent Nicaraguan NGOs nationwide, Accion Medica Cristiana (Christian Medical Action). He's running a multi-million dollar integrated health and agricultural development operation serving impoverished communities all over the eastern coast of Nicaragua, as well as rural areas in central Nicaragua...but in his heart, he's a dad. A teacher. A leader with a servant's heart and an analytical mind.
This week has been a busy one for Francisco, as he has been involved in the international coordination of disaster relief in the aftermath of Hurricane Felix. One night this week, Alicia told us, he came home at 8pm, ate, took a nap, and went back to work at midnight--and did not come home until 6am. So when he came over earlier tonight (the first we'd seen of him since before the hurricane), and invited us over to watch a news analysis program which featured him and a representative of the United Nations speaking with a prominent Nica tv journalist, we were excited, to say the least.
Watching the interview and talking with him afterwards about the situation on the north Atlantic Coast, I see once again how Francisco is using his knowledge, his values, his mind, his heart, every ability he has been given, not only for the raising of his amazing kids, but for the raising up of his own pueblo. His life speaks, not only to me, but to hundreds, maybe thousands, of his own people.
It's hard to convey his depth, intelligence, love, and commitment in words. But if you could meet Francisco face to face, I think you would see what I see. And I believe you would be as inspired as I am.

Tuesday, September 04, 2007

felix update [8:36am Friday]

Hurricane Felix hit the northeast corner of Nicaragua, in the area near Puerto Cabezas (or Bilwi, as it is called by the indigenous locals) early Tuesday morning. (For those unfamiliar with the geography of Nicaragua, this is the opposite side of the country from Managua, where I live. We got a lot of rain in the last 2 days, but nothing else.)

The government's first official preliminary report is out this morning and the news is not good:
-18,477 people evacuated
-39 deaths
-105 missing
-18 injuries
-90 rescued
-7,795 houses destroyed
-8,848 homes partially damaged
--no potable water is currently available due to the contamination of almost all local wells
-access to the area is limited due to rushing rivers filled with tree branches and other debris
-there is a continued risk of mudslides and flooding in certain parts of north and central Nicaragua

At least 70,000 people were affected by this storm. (And there are still whole communities that have not been reached due to limited access via road and river.)

Medical teams, food and water have already been sent to the region, but there will be needs for weeks to come. I encourage all of you to monitor the FH website in the next couple of days for information on how you can contribute to the relief effort, should you feel so inclined.

In addition, information about the storm and its aftermath is being continuously updated locally here (in English):

Gracias por tus oraciones y ayuda.

Sunday, September 02, 2007

saturday in managua

En camino on the bus to lunch on Saturday afternoon
Pita, hummus, salad, and later, some really delicious ravioli and panini at one of our new favorite restaurants, Ola Verde (Green Wave) !

Out on the streets of Los Robles, the trendy neighborhood where we ate lunch