Leon, Nicaragua

Hola, Loli! ?Com etah?  ?Ta weno?
Lee came to the coop today to check on things and I decided maybe it was time to get on the e-mail. I really don't have much time for doing this. I'm busy every day, all day. So is Lee. So just as we got here, the lights went out. I'm a hunt-and-pecker, you remember, so I gotta see what I'm doing most of the time. He put me on battery on the lap-top.

What happened to those shuttles? Did you send them direct, I hope? Since another container won't get here until after I leave I'm itching to know. Today Lee and I went to see a carpenter about repairing some of the old shuttles. He said he could do it for 20 cordobas, and it would be ready tomorrow. We took two-one that's good but needs repair, and one that's totally shot so he can use that wood for parts. We'll see if it works out, then have more repaired if it works.

We got a couple of 100 yard warps on this week. A 24-epi huck tablecloth, and some multi-color-warp napkins in 8/2. The napkin warp was double wide, so we've got two 200-yard napkin warps, which is good, actually. I hope. I've been scared to death. I was doing the huck from memory, egad. It wasn't working, and they insisted you told them how to do it. So finally they showed me the remains of one of yours. It was reversed: what they called harness one was harness four, that kind of stuff. That meant I had to figure out, while they were watching me, how to tie up the treadles, and then how to weave them. Their concept is so different! But when the pattern finally emerged correctly, they were jubilant. It's lovely.

It's not as hot as it was, but we're having lots of rain and thunder, so the humidity is excessive. I'm not sure which is worse, the dry heat or the humidity. I'm constantly bathed in sweat, and I don't care. I'm having a good time because the work, while hard, is interesting, and the people are so lovely.

We have a new apprentice. A couple of weeks ago a young girl showed up. She's a neighbor of Ana Maria's, is 13 years old, and is a real beauty. She won a beauty contest at her high school, in fact. They put her right to work. She's doing fine. There are a couple of other young women you don't know. They are all beauties. Mirna is 16, and has been there every day since I've been there. She giggles a lot, but she works steadily at whatever is required and turns out a lot of colchas. She also paints my nails for me. :-)  That's a bonus I didn't expect. All the weavers have painted nails toes and fingers--except Danelia. The third one is Lorenza. She's 21, has a baby, and isn't there as steadily as the others, but is good when she comes. She's also a hairdresser and is going to cut my hair tomorrow.

I hope you got some handwritten mail from me. I sent a couple of letters back with Alan for Koula and general distribution. It's the only way I can do it. I just don't have time to write the same thing to everybody. And I have to get back to work. So take care. And do write, even if you have to have Ron do it. Just because I don't get to the office that much doesn't mean I don't want to hear from you guys.
Ah-yo, Elena

There isn't much time for writing. It's dark at 6:30 now, and we're lucky to get home by then. I'm staying at Ana Maria's now. She has 3 sons high-school age, and a daughter with 3 kids living there. Ana Maria is sweet as she can be.
When I got to her house the first time, she had done everything she could to fix things up for me. It was raining, and she had stretched a plastic sheet across the ceiling over the bed to keep the rain off me. She got paid for my month's stay on Saturday. On Sunday she got the roof fixed.  So if nothing else, she at least got her roof fixed out of my staying here.
Ana calls me "Elenita", and "Elenita linda," which embarrasses me to death. On my third day there, we got home before the boys did, and the house was locked. A neighbor brought over a couple of chairs for us to sit on while we waited outdoors. Several women came over to talk to us. Ana must have talked about me beforehand, because they all knew my name (Elenita) and they'd take my hands in theirs and say things I couldn't translate but could understand well enough. I got smiled at, petted, hugged and kissed several times.
How could you not love these people?
Adios, Mama Elena

Leon, Nicaragua
Hello, Alan:
I asked Lee to tell Cecilio how to ask the ferreterias how to order that threaded rod I wanted. I have no idea what they call it here, and neither did Lee, so he explained to Cecilio. And said don't ask the clerks, ask to see the manager. It worked. We went to Bunge, talked to the manager, she got on the radio and called their store in Managua, and the rod was here the next day. And it costs about 1/3 what bolts were costing. I can't believe the awful price of hardware here.
Danelia and I had a successful trip to Granada to the mill. They do have plied yarn. We bought 50 lbs of 3-ply. I think they said they made 2-ply but didn't have any in stock. We later ordered another 50 lbs so they'd be able to put on a long warp with no problem.  I hope.
When we were on the trip, I asked Danelia if Cecilio got paid. She said no, Cecilio didn't get any dinero. I asked three times, to make sure I got it right. I then asked if he had to live on what he made selling his painted saints. She said yes, that was all the money he had. I said, he must have a difficult time. She said yes, for Cecilio it was difficult to eat. "Comer?"   "Si, comer."  That made me a little bit sick, I can tell you. I know I'm not supposed to give anybody anything, but a couple days later, since Cecilio has been acting as my bodyguard so I don't get lost, and interprets for me at the stores, I decided to give him $10. He bought a great big tube of Colgate tooth paste, four bars of soap, and a can of sardines. I don't know how much was left. Makes you think, doesn't it?
I hope you'll be able to get them to put him on some kind of a wage basis. He's been there every day, early till late. Some days he's been pooped, like when you were there and he'd been up painting saints most of the night. Even if he quits to do something else, they could hire him on a daily or hourly basis when they need help. Now, it's "Cecilio!" all day long.
You did a lot for his confidence when you were here, Alan, the way you talked to him and treated him. Lee does, too. And in the hardware stores, they give him lots of respect now, too, after these constant visits by us while he explains what we want. At the coop, they treat him differently, too. He now kids them and jokes with them, and them back at him, all day long. It's great.
Did you end up with the shuttles from Lolli?
Ah-yo. Elena


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