Friday, March 5, 2010

Mexico City

We were pleased to find a flight home via Mexico, rather than the more usual stopover in the US. It is one of Rachel's favourite countries, having studied here in 2001 and returned since, and nice to be there together and for Simon to get a feel for it. It was a gloriously sunny day and only slightly smoggy, which meant fantastic views of the enormous sprawling city and surrounding mountains as we came in to land.
It's hard to get your head round the scale of one of the world's biggest cities. We had a wonderful time exploring the centre for a few hours before our flight home.

Every other car isn't a Beetle any more as it used to be, they've stopped making them and there's been an influx of Chinese and Korean cars. It's still easy to spot the classic adopted Mexican vehicle though.
We headed for the Zocalo, the enormous central square, which was dominated by a temporary exhibition, due to open the next day.
The cathedral is a whopper by any standards.
The Museo de Bellas Artes
Our final joint photo in Latin America
There is still a ramshackle charm to the central back streets. Mexico City first appears to be a very modern and clean city, easy to travel around by metro. It's got beautiful, historic buildings and shiny modern tower blocks, but the great thing is, you're only ever two corners from a real sense of a vibrant Latin America, such as this back street flea market.

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Mexican food

We were only in Mexico City for the day on our way back to the UK but we managed to pack in a few tasty treats.First up was a small, friendly cafe with good coffee, pastry and juice. We wandered on and stopped at one of the many juice bars, Mexican style, where Rachel reminisced and Simon had his first try of a delicious, cool and refreshing horchata, a rice based drink with cinnamon, lime juice and sugar.We couldn't visit Mexico without stopping at a street cafe for fiery tacos. You could order all sorts of cuts of meat, tripe featuring heavily. We opted for a straightforward pork. What makes them is the guacamole, chile and freshly squeezed lime. It didn't take too much searching to find a charming and very cheap local lunch establishment where we enjoyed several courses and refreshing lime juice served by a lovely, old waiter. It felt as though this place hadn't changed much in the last thirty years.We enjoyed soup to start, accompanied as always in Mexico with chile, lime and fresh tortillas.Next up was a plate of salad.
We were starting to flag under the quantity of food by the time we got to the third course, fish in a tomato sauce for Rachel. However, it was very nice so we happily stuffed ourselves before our long flight home. It was the perfect food end to our Latin American adventures.

Monday, March 1, 2010

Goodbye Nicaraguan Friends, Hasta La Proxima

After eight busy months living, working and travelling in what became 'Nuestra Querida Nicaragua' it was time to head home and have our baby but with high hopes of return visits in the years to come.
We left South America with a photo from every country we visited but we leave Nicaragua with images of some of the lovely people we have been lucky enough to spend time with, who have inspired us, and who we consider our friends.Our favourite place to stay in Esteli, with lovely friends and fantastic hosts Pancho and Elena and family.
Marlon, Myra, Marciel and Marlon Mauricio in Sontule.
Una de las clases de ingles de Sontule
El grupo de mujeres de Xilonem, Sontule
Jackson, Sontule
Indira, Minor and Ivancito, coffee picking in Sontule
Raquel de los Estados con Raquel la inglesa
Ivan y Danelia
Our Nicaraguan family, la familia Villareyna
Nelson and his family
Nick with Marti
Adilia y Reyno
Brenda y Candida at Hostal Tomabu
Luis y Erme
Sobeyda, Bryan y Fabricio
Michael y Noemi
17 de julio. Celebrating 30 years of Sandinismo. Viva Sandino! Viva la Revolucion!
El Lagartillo. Jerry y Jose Angel, Lizbeth y Erme.
The fantastic view near to El Lagartillo
Maribel y Ricardo, Tina and Nick
Our trip to Honduras to the solidarity concert in Tegucigalpa
Lesbia, Fran, Bryan, Juan David y Ana Sofia
The class of six, seven and eight year olds in Sontule that Simon taught and Chucky the dog
The wonderful family Villareyna, Dona Lucia, Don Rogelio, Marlon y Rogelito.
We found Nicaraguans to be welcoming, generous, fun and humble. Their quality of life despite how few material possessions and wealth they have compared to us is inspiring. The hospitality we received is something we will aim to emulate and their pragmatic approach to life we hope to remember and influence us in the way we live our lives.

The caves of Sontule

We had heard tell of some caves in Sontule but had never visited them, so off we went. Jackson was our guide and Marlon Mauricio and Valeska came along too for the two hour trip uphill and down again. The caves were used many hundreds of years ago for storage by the indigenous people who inhabited these parts before the Spanish saw them off. Lots of artefacts have been found here, mainly bits of ceramic and flint spear and arrow heads, but its all been removed now and taken away by anyone who fancied it. The trip was a success; we enjoyed it, the kids enjoyed it and Jackson was pleased with the responsibility of guiding us. The only negative was the dozen or so tiny ticks I picked up somewhere and found stuck to the top of my arm and my armpit. They are too small to photograph, but we have both had to remove them now, which is easy once you’ve located them, and can both testify to their itchy nature.

Sunday, February 28, 2010

Orlando's land

Clem, Orlando and Simon holding a coconut, plantain and nothing, respectively.
We had a lovely morning out on a windswept, drizzly but still sweaty day, travelling in a dug-out canoe with Orlando and his son Clem, to their land near to Pearl Lagoon. Orlando is the community guide in the Misquito village of Awas. The windy weather meant that we could use a black, bin-bag material, sail to bob across the lake. From the shore, it was a good half hour hike to Orlando's patch of land. Here he grows yucca, which is the main carbohydrate in their diet, and accompanies fish stews.Orlando harvesting yucca, a root vegetable, also known to us as cassava It's easy to farm. Once the roots have been harvested, a section of the stem is cut off clean and re-planted straight in the ground. It soon takes root, and in another few months, the yucca is ready, and the process can begin again.
Orlando's little hut for relaxing in and cooking lunch, looking a bit worse for wear following Hurricane Ida last November.
Clem with a wild banana plant. The fruit is inedible but the flowers are very pretty.
Orlando visits the land most days, after fishing. In addition to yucca, coconut and plantain, he also has sugar cane, pineapple, tropical apples, a local fruit (called bread fruit eaten fried with meals. Sadly we didn't get to sample this), bananas and something he called a pear, though we don't think it would have looked like the pears we know. During our trip, he kept our energy levels up with coconut water fresh from the palm, tropical apples and sugar cane to suck on. He was a great guy working hard to bring a little extra money into the community through tourism.