Leon, Nicaragua

20 July, 1999

Hi there,

I had begun to wonder if I was going to make it, but !Estoy aqui!

My plane from Seattle was late so the plane at Dallas had left before I got there.

"No problem", the lady said. "You can fly TACA at 5 pm." But someone was supposed to pick me up in Managua at the airport at noon.

When I got to Miami they said, "No way. The five o'clock plane is full." But there was one seat on a NICA plane so I left at 3:50 and got to Managua at 5 pm.

When the plane was coming into the airport, I looked to see if the big Washington State apple sign was still there along the highway, and sure enough, there it was, in all its delicious glory.

Many improvements at the Managua airport: no longer does one walk downstairs and across the tarmac. They have one of those enclosed tunnels you walk through now. Then, inside there are escalators! Honest-to-goodness escalators to take you downstairs. There wasn't anyone, nor were there any carts, to help get the luggage through customs, though, and I had to muscle those three heavy suitcases all by myself. They didn't make me open them, though, just took one look at my haggard face and passed me through.

Then there was all kinds of help with the luggage, bless 'em. Mostly kids who grab your suitcases and carry them, expecting a dollar or so (and worth it.)

Of course, no one waited from noon to 5:30 for me so I took a taxi, and lucked out. The cab was in good shape and the driver was intelligent and I could understand him-- we talked all the way. (Well, gee, I can't understand everyone who speaks Spanish.)

We got to the cooperativa at 8 pm and there, sitting outside in the dark, were five of the weavers waiting for me. Me, I'd have given up hours before. These blessed women!

Things keep changing as always they must.

Norma got married on the 26th of June, but her letter telling me so didn't reach me before I left home. Her husband Mario and her brother Hector are working for an organization from Denmark that are trying to get the landmines out up near the Honduran border. It's a good project but I wouldn't want to do it.

Last night Norma showed me her wedding presents. She got about 12 sets of four glasses, 2 sets of six, all different, all pretty, some china serving bowls, and a set of six amber glass plates with a sunflower design. She was very proud. Her husband is supposed to be home over the weekend so I'll get to meet him.

Cecilio joined the army about 10 days ago and no one has heard from him since, but I don't think that is unusual. His mother is in the hospital. Yesterday she had operations for two hernias. Poor thing -- she was really suffering last year, I know.

Maybe Cecilio will be home from boot camp for a visit while I'm still here. Mirna said he was discouraged about not finding work and planned to try Guatemala again, then changed his mind and joined the army.

Danelia's son Huber graduated from the university and hasn't got a job yet. He majored in - guess I should say studied, they don't "major" here - electrical engineering. Her daughter Yasmina lives and studies in Managua now.

Boy, it's hot: 96 degrees and I'm sweating buckets. It's not at all like Wenatchee in the 90s. And those cold showers-- well, I welcome them until I get hit with that cold stream of water.

Two women from Pro-Mujer were here yesterday. They are trying to help with marketing the products of the weavers and talked about a basic course in accounting for them. I told them I thought it would be wonderful, but was there any way we could get a course in literacy for them? Most of them cannot read or write. How could they do bookkeeping?

One of the women said that Pro Mujer had quit their literacy classes, but she used to be a literacy teacher and she'd see if anything could be done for them. Maybe she'd be able to teach this group herself. Wouldn't that be grand?

She also said she was going to work up a hang tag for the weavers products and planned to be here again next week to show me a mock-up. That, too, would be lovely. She says they need a brochure to put out at the airport and other tourist spots. Yes, they do, they do! A wonderful project for an organization that specializes in marketing wouldn't you say? They may even have the money already budgeted for it.

Three Italian serigraphers came in, their second time, to see about getting some hand-woven cloth, plain weave, that they could silk screen their designs on. They showed us some tee-shirts they had done that are fantastic. They have some designs that are of Nicaraguan subjects they plan to enlarge to print on the fabric for wall-hangings. I want one!

The weavers want to try weaving the fabric for them so Mirian is trying to weave up the warp on her loom to give it a try. Naturally, there isn't a warp the right size on any of the looms.

Its good to be back. I always wonder what I can possibly do when I get here, but in a day or too it starts to jell.

Much love,


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