Elaine, Leon, Nicaragua

28 July 1999


Hector gets to come home once a month, and he was here last weekend. He and Mario, his brother in law, showed up Friday night in camouflage uniforms (which Mirian and Norma washed Saturday).

I found out more about the "de-mining", it isn't only Denmark that is paying for it, but also Switzerland, and Belgium and the European Unios. But that's all they do-- the work is done by the Nicaraguan army and these hired young men. They sign up for a year, get military training, have to salute the officers, all that stuff. But I guess the pay is better than army pay.

They work in the forests of the mountains up near the Honduran border. It gets cold, too, (hard to believe, isn't it?) They had heavy sweaters to prove it, and Hector said sometimes he wraps a tee-shirt around his head and shoulders, it's so cold.

They have found and blown up 25 land mines so far. Hector said he enjoys the work, likes being in the mountains and forest, and the pay is pretty good (considering 70 % un-employment and wages in general for Nicaragua.) They sleep in hammocks, and the food is okay-- but home cooking is better.

They had a robbery in the coop shortly before I got here. Someone parted the barbed wire and got in and cut two colchas off two looms, and made a real mess of the warps. Both looms had to be rethreaded and the tensions adjusted. They just got that all done today.

Last year the police suggested that they electrify the top of their wall. First they have to apply for a police permit, then find someone who can do the job so it won't kill off the weavers. I hope it can be done. But safely.

It's hot-- 100 degrees F. I brought a thermometer down last year so I could check. Leon is noted for being hot. I asked someone why it was hotter here than in Managua, and he said it was because Leon is surrounded by volcanoes. The volcanoes are there, but I don't think that’s the reason.

People here don't pay any attention to thermometers. They don't say, "It's 40 degrees (that's centigrade), What one does hear is "!Que Calor!" (how hot) most of the day.

I almost had to fight (no, not really), to get them to let me do something besides answer questions. But I said a firm "Quiero hacer algo" (I want to do something) so they finally let me wind yarns into skeins. We've done four neat colors so far and will do more tomorrow. They seem to enjoy the dyeing as much as I do.

They needed a new sack of salt for the dyeing so Danelia went for it. She came back carrying 50 pounds on her head, walking several blocks with it. She said her head hurt the rest of the day. I'll bet!

I'm staying at Mirian's house. This is a sweet, wonderful family and not only because the girls take my sandals off and put on my "chinelllas" (slippers) when I get home from work. They do the same for their mom. They paint my fingernails and toe-nails, too.

The patio next door has two noisy parrots that I thought talked a lot last year, but his year, it they aren't talking, they're singing. They sing the same song but one is usually a note or two behind the other. I get a kick out of it, but I haven't been here 2 weeks yet.



  • P.S. You can message me at : nhleon@tmx.com.ni but you have to put "message for Elaine" in the subject line or I won't get it.
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