So this week, we moved on from roaches - to Beattles (as in the musical group) when we went to see the National Orchestra's annual Beattles review. Musicians from across Nicaragua joined a 12 piece jazz band and members of the national choir to pay tribute to the band. It was also an opportunity for us to see the famous Ruben Dario theater, which was one of the few buildings that survived the 1972 earthquake which basically leveled the city of Managua (which at the time was one of the most advanced in Latin America). I'll have to say I was a bit skeptical about the concert at first - but there is a certain charm to hearing Eleanor Rigby played on a cello!
Throughout the week, our projects continued to move along, and I'm finally getting a handle on how to quantify and measure the social impact of Agora's work, and the blended value of our investments. But all work and no play would make for a very dull summer, so come Friday we were off again. This weekend we went with our work colleague Terioska to her hometown of Leon. An hour outside of Managua, Leon is colonial town which is home to seven universities, so it has a very young and fun atmosphere.
First on our to do list Saturday morning was a hike up the Cerro Negro volcano to try sandboarding (which is just like snowboarding, but on sand, or really in this case, on small volcanic rocks). The hike up was a bit steep, especially carrying the boards - but the views were breathtaking. Cerro Negro is an active volcano which last erupted in 2000. According to our guide, it usually erupts every seven years, and so is overdue. As we started the climb - he told us not to worry if we felt movement, that it was normal - and to be honest, I'm still not sure if he was kidding or not.
At the top we were able to see down into the still smoking crater (no visible lava unfortunately) and stick our hands into the hot layer of rock just underneath the surface. Then after a quick lesson on how to get down the mountain, we were off. There were only two sandboards, and four of us - so two in our group were using wooden sleds instead. In my case though, I was strapped by my ankles to the board. I can't say that I really mastered the sport - I spent more time on my butt than on my feet, and I think I will be finding small pieces of volcanic rock in places where the sun doesn't shine for a while - but I made it down in one piece. The sport has its disadvantages (there are no lifts, as one friend already pointed out) - but it was definitely fun to try. And, because words don't quite describe the experience - I put together my first video! You can check it out here:
Sunday morning Terioska took us to eat a typical Nicaraguan dish called "chancho con yuca." Sold in stands on the street, the dish consists of marinated pork served on top of pieces of yuca and wrapped up in banana leaves. It was delicious!
We spent the morning on the farm of Terioska's friend, Alma Virginia. It turns out that my roommate Camila has a thing for cows (who knew?!), so Alma's dad introduced us to his herd. We got the chance to meet this little guy, who's mother died in labor a few weeks before. For the time being they are keeping him in a separate pen and bottle feeding him. However, they are waiting for one of the other cows to give birth in a few days - at which time they will cover him in her urine, and put him with the new calf. The hope is that she will smell her scent on him and believe that he is hers, and thus begin to raise him.
Finally, in case we hadn't seen (or eaten) enough already - Terioska and Alma took us for an amazing fish lunch at the beach. It was a picture perfect day!