August 20,

Mirian and Danelia are sewing the first cotona shirt and it's coming out just swell. I'm not sure I am. I've got Mirian using the serger for the first time. She's nervous but is doing okay, actually. I'm almost shot.

I don't know who did all the dial-twisting on the serger this past year, but I think I have it figured out now. It's working fine this minute, and Mirian is getting pretty proud. Good.

Catalina, the Italian lady from the serigraphers, thought our printing was just great. She asked how many screens we used. I said one. "But how did you get the different colors?" So I told here. She was surprised. She's a pro--she can't take the chances I can.

Another scorcher of a day here, Adios, Elaine


Elaine, Leon, Nicaragua

August 24, 1999


Many things are changing here and many aren't. That beautiful highway I came to Leon on is actually Nicaragua's portion of the Pan-American Highway. They say it's beautiful from Honduras down to Costa Rica now.

But the streets of Leon haven't improved. The bridges they had to replace after Hurricane Mitch are better than they were before. Some of the streets are still torn up from the Hurricane.

There is a concerted campaign to try to teach people not to toss garbage in the streets. Garbage trucks have big signs that say "Limpieza es Salud." (Cleanliness is Health.) Four years ago plastic from flimsy plastic bags was everywhere in the streets. There's very little now. Last year they put trash containers on the streets in town, too. Before, the only place to put trash was in your pocket. Who does that?

I wouldn't be surprised if they came up with an "Adopt - a - Highway" program before long.

They have the best anti-domestic-violence spots I've ever seen on TV. ("When you're angry; take a walk." "Go outside; sit down and calm yourself." "Lower your voice and talk calmly," said by different men. "Avoid violence. It's in your hands.")

A young woman asked me if my husband beat me. She was surprised when I said, "Never." Then I added, "Nor my father my mother, nor my brothers their wives, nor did the brothers of my husband beat their wives."

I haven't seen any men beating their wives here, for all that. It's probably about equal to domestic violence in the States.


August 24,

Those bone-sticking-out, super skinny dogs that shocked me so my first year here, I don't see any more. The dogs I see now look healthy and usually wag their tails. They seem to be as much pets as watch dogs now.

The families of the people I work with are very poor, yet for most of them, things seem to be better for them all. A few more comforts in each house, mostly.

Mirna's house doesn't have a TV or radio. Their neighbor plays his so loud they get the news any way. (I'm being facetious, but it's true.) Radios and TV's always seem to go full blast, as if trying to drown out each other. At 5 o'clock in the morning, too. (Lolli told me I'd need ear plugs, but I can go back to sleep okay, after once being wakened.)

The women may be poor and may have little convenience in their homes, but the ones I know dress proudly, are neat and clean, fix each others' hair, apply makeup carefully, use nail polish.

They keep my nails polished, too. I have newly-done finger and toe nails in brown since last night. Before this, they were a light (pretty) avocado green. J Pselda said they were "sexy". I hope you all have the opportunity to flaunt green toe-nails when you are 77.

Mirian and Danelia have four cotonas made and I think they are great. I go fairly berserk watching them sew, but I try to let them go ahead, only giving advice when it come to the machines.

They worked out their own patterns for the different sizes. They don't use any interfacing, which fairly drives me nuts. But a cotona is a traditional man's work shirt from 100 years ago and it wouldn't have had interfacing anyway. Besides, "unstructured" sewing and ready-made garments are quite the thing in the U.S. now. I'm behind the times, I guess.

Well, Cerro Negro behaved itself for a while, but is sent my bed swinging last night again. I may end up cast in sand yet. I hadn't heard the details of the '92 eruption before we got our initial shake-up 2-3 weeks ago. I might have been as scared as they were, it I had. If we get 4 feet of sand on the ground this time, I'm outta here!

I sent the coop a serger two years ago, but they've never been able to use it. This year they are determined, as am I. I thought I'd be able to teach one thoroughly and she could teach the others, but there are always three heads and six hands when it come to threading the danged thing. When they get stumped, I show them how to do it, then pull it out and make them do it themselves. Anyone who has a serger knows how mean that is, but they have to learn. The instruction book is in English, but it's a lot better than mine and the diagrams are excellent. They've used the serger enough to know what a wonderful instrument it can be.

We're just getting another cloud-burst. We have these heavy rains, but it isn't like last year before Hurricane Mitch at all. Then, day after day after day, there'd be 10 - 12 inches of water running down the road. It could happen with this if it doesn’t let up, but so far it's always let up or slacked off after a few minutes.

Well, we got some cracking good lightning, really close. They rushed around and disconnected everything electrical, which I would have done, too. But Danelia insisted I had to stop writing. "Why?" I asked. "Es malo", she said. "No escribe en relampago."

(It's bad. Don't write when there's lightning.")

When I was staying at Mirian's house, at the first roll of thunder Yenifer would hang a big towel in front of the mirror in the living room. Of course I asked why and they said because it was glass and lightning went to glass. Huh?

At home (in the U.S.) aren't we told to close our windows in a thunder storm because glass is a non-conductor?

They (the people I stay with) - don't have glass in their windows. Mirian had wooden shutters, heavy ones, in two windows. There is open-design, decorative concrete blocks, too, which also is what Ana Maria has in her house for windows. Danelia's and Mirna's houses just don't have windows. I think Rosa Maria has one window-- I'll see later.

There are more and more houses with glass jalousie windows. Remember the big fad for them from the 1950"s? Then, during the first big energy crisis., they quit using them. But here I don't think I'd have anything but jalousie windows. The ones I see are always open. Mine certainly would be.

The storm is over. It lasted about 25 minutes. Everyone is back a work.



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