Immediately upon arriving three hours late in the capital city of Managua, Bob and I get tremors of third world country glitches. The chip installed in my phone doesn’t work, but it’s a nice relief. The representative of our hotel tells us we have no reservations, but we check in anyway. We don’t actually meet up with anyone until the next morning. Everybody’s late. After breakfast Bob and I meet and greet the other two World Water Corps, Water for People volunteers. Elaine, our team leader from Denver, is an EPA employee who lives close to the home office. John is pipe fitter from Wisconsin Rapids, WI. His Midwest accent brings back sentimental memories of my Milwaukee heritage.
We’re off to our training session with El Porvenir (the future) in the quaint colonial town of Dario, named for the famous Nicaraguan poet Ruben Dario. The group has been working hand-in-hand with WFP in Nicaragua for the last two years, though they have been in existence for more than twenty, bringing water and sanitation to isolated people in the rural campo. We split up, half in the El Porvenir tarp-covered truck and half (Bob and I included) in the tiny air-conditioned car. The meeting gives us an introduction to both groups and their on-going and future projects and our modus operandi, monitoring the water and sanitation systems already in place.
Our day drags on, as Latin American meetings do. Our American counterpart, Elaine has lots to present. She has been trained by the Water for People staff and told to pay great attention to detail since this is the first monitoring survey since WFP joined with El Porvenir. Future donations depend on it. Everything must be translated into Spanish or English and that doubles the time. After numerous breaks for meals, GPS training, computer problems, etc. we are in session for 12 hours! I’m exhausted. Our expert translator, Jimmy begins to lose his voice by the end of the day (rather night). Is this any indication of how long our surveys will last?
Elaine asks if she can train me on the PC and Excel before we retire for the night. I had planned to bring my Mac computer, but at the last minute find out the GPS stuff can’t be downloaded to Mac, and being a writer, not an accountant, I’ve never experienced the wonders of Excel. I’m so tired my eyes are crossing, and ask for a good night’s rest. “Can’t we do this in the morning?”
“Well, you know that John and I are going to Wiwili and it’s a seven hour drive. I’d rather do it tonight.”
“I’m an old morning person and my brain is mush. How about 6 or 7 am? So you can still make it to Wiwili before dark.”
But she’s a night person and only in her 30’s. “I can’t make it that early.” She frowns, “how about 8 am?” Agreed.
We’re hauled in the back of the truck, like cattle to market, to our hostel for the night, a quaint humble place with a big surprise inside. Named Seeds of Learning, its main raison d’etre is as a children’s library and learning center. Started twenty plus years ago by an old gringo and his Nica wife, it even includes a sewing room with machines to teach the women a viable craft.
We all double up in the rooms and fall exhausted into our dreams of what tomorrow will bring.