Sunday, June 24, 2007

Bugs and Poop - June 24

Everyone has the poops!

Nico, Salvadora, Sydney and me….even our house mate. It is rough out here.

The bugs never leave you alone, the cats are born with disease, the food and fruit is all grown influenced by other microbes and bacteria unknown to the United States.

Many people are constantly on the lookout for a thief on their backs or mosquitoes on their ankles, picking, picking, picking, buzzing, sucking, sucking, flying away with a half pint of blood.

Ticks, chiggers, fleas, fleas, eggs of fleas, dirt, spiders, moths, fruit flies, oh my god the fruit flies, ants larger than your dog, en mass looking for tiny particles of food to train back to their hill underneath the stairs. Even the plants have teeth, waiting for an unsuspecting victim to walk by, brush a shoulder and jerk away with a 5-finger cat scratch. It even bled!
I have pretty much gotten used to constantly sweating. Along with the sweat goes the constant caked in dirt because it is so dusty around here. It fills in every crevice like a cream filled donut, making sure that any space between you and your clothes has some mixture of refuse.

The Day of the Cat - June 23

I went over to our manager’s house yesterday…

“Hey, Adam, can I ask you a favor? The vet found this black cat in the street. It looks pretty sick and malnourished. Could you ask Sydney if she could take care of it tonight and then tomorrow you can take it back to the vet.”

I peered into this small water tin and inside three little dish towels lay the skin and bones of a small black alien with white boots and a white nose. Its ochre green eyes filling half of its comparable oversized skull.

Sydney showed up at her house and we took it home. She fed the little soul some baby food mixed with soy milk through a syringe only to get about half of it into its tiny little mouth.

We all slept.

6:00 am another feeding.

8:00 am one more feeding. We take her/him to the vet. The gatito is not looking good, barely able to keep its head up, it can’t even stand up, its feet sprawling like a black spider web.

The vet looked at the little kitten with the hardened eyes of a doctor who had seen a million animals come and go, in and out of the hospital in more ways than one.

You see in Nicaragua, the cats have their own city, built on the rooftops of tattered houses they play, breed, eat and shit. Nature’s way…cats on top, people inside, dogs on the streets. Cats have a gestation period of 64 days which means that they can become pregnant, give birth, raise their young and get pregnant again all within three months. Usually a liter is comprised of about 3-8 little ones for a maximum of 24 cats a year or a minimum of 9. Either way, the cat population is a double edge sword for those with weak hearts. A liter half passed is both a blessing and a problem depending on how many cats you are already caring for.

For our little one, our care is only part of the solution because we are going to find it a home in the United States. For other little ones, it is to the rooftops to fight for their bony little bodies.

The vet emptied its bladder manually, he gave it a few CC’s of antibiotics, and sent us on our way. We returned home with the knowledge that it was a little girl with stomach worms, fleas, cuts and bruises, and a small chance to live.

As we approached the door to our guest house, she began to yelp incessantly. We took her inside and laid her on a table and the most incredible thing happened
She started to convulse, legs twitching, head throbbing, eyes blinking, all of it with sudden yelps, cries rising from the fight with el ladron de la vida. Sydney broke down instantly, the suffering of something so small, helpless, scared, unresponsive tearing at a heart so large, unconditional, sensitive and bursting with hope.

“Adan, Adan we have to take it back to the vet. Maybe he can do something.”
The walk back was tormenting, “I don’t think it is a good idea, baby,” I replied, only to realize that doing something was better than sitting there watching the whole thing happen.

We put her in the water tin, left our guest house and returned to the vet as quickly as possible.

I swear the cat died.

We arrived disturbed and uncertain. The towels were still pulsing, warm to the touch…all good signs of life.

The doctor administered some saline solution and some cortisol. The cures at the vet were hydration, electrolytes and adrenalin. The cures at home were swaddling, syringe feeding baby food each hour, and promising her love if she would only live.

Right now it is 12:32 pm and Salvadora is alive. She is aware, fed, pooped, played and full of life. I think she saw the light, got scared and ran the other way. We saved her and she saved us from witnessing the passing from life to death. I have seen rocks get crushed, I have seen insects flip over and cease from moving, I even seen aquarium fish fight for their dorsal balance only to lose their brilliant color. I have never witnessed a mammal lose that which it has gained over a million years…the warmth of its blood.

Sydney is getting ready for bed. Nico is sleeping in his box. Aries is trying to eat some beads. Salvadora is breathing steady and I am finished with my story.

Friday, June 22, 2007

A Day In Nica - June 17th

We went on a tour of the Isletas today. At first I was amazed as we slowly bubbled through the river bends through the Discovery channel movie, I felt like we could have been making a movie about it all.

We first stopped on one of the islands that had an old fortress on it. The stairs were interesting as they were very steep. There were cutouts in the wall for canons and one of the old iron shooters still in the fortress. It had been built during the Spanish colonial times and was no longer used but it was still a good tourist attraction. We left for more of the tour and we came upon some islands that were house properties. For only 400,000.00 you could have not only your own home but your own island as well. At this point, that price would buy you the home with an electricity hook up, water hook up and the island. Some of the houses were amazing, something out of a Dr. Seuss book, built more vertically to utilize the space.

We then came upon an island with monkeys on it and I was in awe of their 5 limb travel. Their tails simply are another hand. They were so aware and their demeanor felt even more human then my own. So interested and natural, we fed them bananas and bread. Sydney got some great photos and I took some of my own mental images as well. They were way more involved than anything I had seen in the zoos. We continued to an island where we ate lunch, went for a quick swim and then we returned home.

Next Sunday we shall go to Laguna De Apollo and I am looking forward to swimming in some clear water.

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Los Tres Guitarras - June 12th

I recieved three guitars today. I cleaned them of their cobwebs, changed their strings and polished them. They are ready to be played!

Here in Granada, I have been assigned to teach at 3 different schools that are affiliated with our volunteer organization, Building New Hope.

At La Epifania, I have been given two classes a week to teach the 5th and 6th graders how to play guitar. Unfortunately, there are only 5 guitars and 15 students. Fortunately, I teach the 5th graders on one day and the 6th on another.

At Las Camelias, I have been given two choir classes. I teach the 4th graders on Wednesdays and the 2nd and 3rd graders on Tuesdays. It is an amazing opportunity to be able to teach music in spanish and I feel like at this point in my life, it is the most helpful thing I have ever done for everyone involved, including myself.

At Quinta Los Chevalos I teach guitar every Thursday from 2-4. There is actually a music room! They have 5 guitars and I teach about 3 kids at a time. It is great because I am able to get through more material with them because there are so few.

Here in Nicaragua they really value music, even more so because they do not have access to a standard music education in the first place. I realized today that even if these kids only receive 5 or 6 music lessons it could at least help shape their own interests. At least I will have introduced the idea of guitar and singing to them and for a few it might spark some greater ambition.

To be a volunteer in this country is to understand that you are a very small minority working for a relatively small amount of time with usually small children with small hopes. The direct effects of your work might not be immediately seen or felt but every time you do help, inside you must know that you are contributing to the well-being of the children, the community, the culture and the future and that is larger than anything I have been able to do otherwise.

Tuesday, June 5, 2007

Nicaragua Arrival - June 5th

We have just arrived in Nicaragua. (Midnight in Nicaragua) I hear repitious chirps, birds and spider monkeys, gas-powered motorcycles mowing their way through shiny streets.
It rained for seriously 10 minutes, and then….quiet streets.

Vagabond dogs roam the streets, having no home, no knowledge of a food bowl, a daily routine walk, an owner, English commands. They are completely free of any

I sat for awhile soaking it all in already, trying to feel the complete wholeness of the experience. I am no longer scared not that I was but 6 months, one can only read so many books, maps, personal accounts, stories of daily explorations before you are ready to just be there in the midst and sounds, the full sensation of it all.

Marlon picked us up, Red Cardinals T-shirt, baseball shorts, ballcap. For the first time, someone at the airport was holding a sign for me.

We got through customs without a single problem and then I saw him. Through the glass, the citizens of the country, peering at foreign animals, picking up their bags, children crying, old women sagging along, few Americans scruffed and sweaty.

We exited the airport into a blanket of hot and humid air. It was wonderfully engulfing as we walked through the crowd to the car.

We briefly met James, another Englishman who had arrived to volunteer, he packed himself in another car and we drove to Granada.