My favorite time of day in Jinotepe is before 10 a.m. and after 3 p.m. when the breezes blow!
Today I thought I would share how we "get around" in Nicaragua and learning the "every day stuff". You don't have to be here long to notice that the rules are much "looser" here when it comes to travel. Only the driver must be buckled in a seat belt. You are allowed to travel in the back of a truck. You do not have to have a helmet to ride a motorcycle and you can cram as many people on said motorcycle as you wish. You can even hold your baby on it. There are not always stop signs at intersections. When you decide it is your turn to proceed, you toot your horn. Actually, you toot your horn when you pass a motorist or a pedestrian. It is not seen as rude, but a courtesy. In comparison, the United States (in most areas, not just travel) is like an overprotective, first time mother in comparison! ;)
As a foreigner, we don't know how to get places or where to eat or where to buy food or water. The market is overwhelming, driving the streets is very different, and you don't know what is reliable and what isn't. We were blessed in that the way was paved for us by two previous families. We live in the same town as them and in the same house as one of them. They passed down their cell phones to us and rubbermaid dishes and other necessities.
They also gave us the name and phone number of their driver, Fruto. But he is WAY more than a driver. He is (and this is on his business card) a "cultural interpreter". He literally makes himself available to you at no extra cost to answer questions and give you advice in emergencies. He often will come at the drop of a hat if you need him to drive you somewhere. While with you he charges a flat fee. He will remind you of other possible errands so you definitely get your money's worth. He doesn't rush. He loves people and being out and about and just enjoys showing his country to visitors like us.
Fruto is fluent in English. He can speak in Spanish and if you interrupt him, he'll answer you in English without a second thought. So, he often acts as an interpreter. He teaches you where to eat and where not to eat and where to get your water. He helps you find a food changer and he puts minutes on your phone for you (we use a vonage phone with a Maine phone number to talk to people in the U.S. and a prepaid cell phone with a Nicaraguan number to talk to people and each other, here). If you need him to, he will run the errand for you and you can stay home.
Fruto's specialty is taking care of/driving for adoptive parents. Since he has done this for years, he knows our adoption lawyer and many at the various Protection Centers (their name for orphanages). The children we are adopting knew him very well. He is a big kid himself so he often will visit and play with the kids.
When my husband arrived in Nicaragua, Fruto immediately became his driver. He would take Robin to the Center daily to visit our kids and interpret for him. Robin literally took up Fruto's entire day for about 2 weeks. When Robin was given permission to take the kids on outings, Fruto helped with them. So, two kids would hold Robin's hand and two would hold Fruto's hand in the mall, or they all played together at the park or the beach. (Robin also had the help of our friends who were finishing up their own adoption. Once the kids were home with him, our friend's teenage daughter would take care of the kids while Robin got his work done as he did not take off much time from work but works from here.)
I am sure you can imagine what a difference this has made. God paved the way for us so we did not have to learn these things the "hard way" and we could put our focus on our children and our adoption. So, while I have said I miss the conveniences of home, I cannot imagine how hard it would be if we had to come done here and do this all alone.
In my driveway...