Subject: Estoy AquŪ
Date: Sunday, 14 July 1996
Iím home in Wenatchee.
Itís hotter here than it was in Nicaragua the last month. Yesterday 106, day before 107, 87 this morning when I left the Cascadae and itís early yet.
I lost 20 pounds when I was there and Iím uglier than sin now. There arenít a lot of mirrors there, and when Iíd catch a stray glance at myself I always assumed it was a distortion.
Iíve been having an awful time since Iíve been back. Itís such a let-down after the long hours and constant work-work-work and think-think-think of Nicaragua. I feel as if I left things unfinished down there and itís hard to get into another mode of operation.
My time in Nicaragua was wonderful and I wasnít ready to come home. I desperately needed another couple of weeks to wind things up. Or a couple of months. Who knows how it would have ended? I can only say I want to go back. Soon, like tomorrow. I havenít finished down there.
I had a wonderful time, but Nicaragua will make you cry. Youíll cry because they have so little and have no hope of getting more. Youíll cry because they still manage to live good lives, can laugh and joke, can be kind and thoughtful to each other and to strangers like me, and youíll feel so ashamed of the privileged life you lead that you really have done nothing to deserve.
I canít believe how attached I got to the people, but when I think of how they treated me itís no wonder. But it isnít only that; itís the uncomplaining make-do and the good spirit they have. I guess you could say I got emotionally involved.
I was in constant conflict with myself all the time I was there. Itís against the rules for me to give anybody anything, except maybe buy food once in a while. I did buy a lot of food at times, especially when I was at Anaís. Once in a while Iíd slip Cecilio 20 cordobas or so Ė that was after I found out they hadnít been paying him because he wasnít producing colchas, even though he was working all day long on the looms. Thatís less than three dollars, and I told him not to say anything to the others, but he was doing a good share of my work; he made me successful, if I was successful. But there would have been resentment if theyíd known I was paying him anything. After I asked Danelia about it, she did give him 20 Cs one week and a couple of weeks later he got 50 Cs. Itís 8.50 cordobas to a dollar. He did get his lunches as they all did.
They had a Despedida for me that last night, a ďfarewellĒ. Rosa Maria cooked a marvelous dinner that we had at Daneliaís house. Lee was going to come pick me up at 3 a.m. to get me to Managua in time to catch the 7:30 a.m. plane.
Darned if they didnít stay all night. I went to bed for a couple of hours but I didnít sleep, though I did rest. . Didnít have to keep my brain in gear anyway. But they played music, talked, laughed and sang most of the night, only getting a little quieter after one a.m. I had to come and join them.
So here I am, still in Nicaragua up to my neck, what with the school project I still intend to do something about and soon, and Jorge and his crippled leg, and Cecilio and his education. Iím 74 years old and I donít have much time, but if I can make a difference in these lives, lives that are just starting out, maybe my time there has been worthwhile.
I love those people.
Thanks to all of you who helped make this possible for me. I love you all.
Elaine. No, itís still Elena at this stage. Elena
On to 1997 letters