Saturday, December 31, 2005

Friday, December 30, 2005

Just arrived in Managua last night and already feeling better about coming. My mother was giving me a bit of a hard time for traveling during the holidays but the ticket had been purchased and it was too late to turn back. Still, it is difficult to leave home knowing that your family is a bit put out with you and your globe-trotting antics. It is my third time coming to Nicaragua and somehow, each time I return it feels a bit like a homecoming – finding the familiar faces I left behind and seeing how much (for the better or worse) they have changed. Children that have somehow outdone me and turned into preadolescents while I was gone. Small additions or transformations to the homes I have slept in. Babies that have made their journey into the world and stare back at me wide-eyed and inquisitive. So much changes and each time I return Nicaragua becomes at once more familiar and more strange than the last time I found myself here.
Coming here yesterday, I was surprised to recognize how familiar this trip has become to me. Even before I had left the U.S. I knew that I was returning back to my Nicaragua.
Boarding my flight, I am walking down the aisle looking for my seat and hear a man mutter to his flight companion “Ay, que morenita preciosa,” and some other appreciative comments about “la morenita” (that would be me) walking past him. For a moment, I am defensive, turning around and preparing to utter a few choice comments of my own – but I relax and smile to myself. Even before takeoff, I am already back in Nicaragua.
Coming out of the plane, I wish the pilot a happy holiday and before I turn the corner I can smell it. The humidity and pungent odor that I have come to associate only with Nicaragua. I pause, breathe deeply, close my eyes. I am back in Nicaragua.
Boarding the plane in Houston, I was surprised to look up and see Daisy Gordon and her daughter Ishan preparing to sit down two rows in front of me. Smiling, I called out, “Hi Daisy” and she smiled back, pleasantly surprised to see me. Daisy is the wife of my advisor and mentor, Edmund T. Gordon, who was waiting patiently in line, five people behind her. I learned later in baggage claim that they had come to Nicaragua to bury Daisy’s grandmother, who had raised her as a child. Ted tells me they will be in Bluefields until Jan. 3. It’s saddening to hear of such a deep loss for their family. I express my sympathies and whisper a prayer in my heart for them. Hopefully, I can see them before they return to the U.S.
In any case, I was enthusiastically greeted at the airport by my friend Geoff, his sister, his girlfriend, Yamila, her father, and her daughter, Ditzi. We make quite a party -- a mixed group of black, mestiza, and biracial (Mexican/White) folks with varying fluency in English and Spanish. I whisper to Ditzi, who has planted herself firmly on my lap that I have brought “dos regalitos para ti,” and she squeals happily. She claims to have missed me but with the confident narcissism that only a child can have she states that she knew I would bring gifts. I suspect this knowledge comprises at least a small part of her happiness to see me.
I am back in Nicaragua.

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