Sunday, March 27, 2011

Chatting with Elisa

Elisa is one of our translators that we take along on all our clinics. She is 41 years old and probably the least proficient in English compared to the other two. But I love her so much. The slightest joke or funny incident makes her erupt into endless giggles and laughter. Her English is getting better and better the more time she is with us. Usually she translates for the pediatric station and that is my favorite station to be at, so I think we have naturally been drawn to hanging out together as we both hold babies and laugh at the kids.

This week at clinic in Esperanza, we finished early at peds, so I asked Elisa if she wanted to walk with me to see the river. It is a beautiful flowing river that reminds me a lot of the Umpqua in Southern Oregon. So we walked out there and sat by the edge of the river chatting about life in our halted communication.

Me: Elisa, have you been to Esperanza before?
Elisa: Oh yes, yes. It is good like Santa Clara. Not too much people. Francia is too much.
M: Yeah the houses are so close together back in Francia. How is your son doing?
E: Son?
M: Your boy.
E: Oh! He lives in Waspam.
M: Do you get to see him very much?
E: Sometime I see. Sometime not so much.
M: Oh that is too bad. I'm sure you miss him. So on Tuesday and Thursday you come on clinic with us. What do you do on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday?
E: My plantation! I go work.
M: Oh you have a plantation! What do you grow?
E: I have beans, the papaya, cassava...
M: Everybody is harvesting beans right now, right?
E: Yes, but it is not so good this year.
M: From all the rain?
E: Yes too much rain.
M: So you go work each week. You know all the people that come to our clinic say that have back pain.
E: Yes everybody, everybody!
M: I think everybody in Nicaragua has back pain! They work too hard in the fields.
E: Yes, work too much. I only carry little bag back, but you know other women carry big big bag. Too much!
M: And then the women have so many babies!
E: (Laughing) Yes, yes. Sarah, how many sisters do you have?
M: I have one sister and two brothers. There are 4 of us.
E: Ah...I have 5 sisters and 3 brothers.
M: Oh! So many! There are 9 of you!
This river is so beautiful. Why doesn't Francia have one?!
E: (Laughing) Yes, Francia river is only little and brown. Not good for much people.
M: In the summer I work with kids.
E: Oh?
M: Yes, they are age 15, 16...And I take them to a river like this to have fun. We get a boat and go down the river and at night we stop to camp on the side. For one week!
E: Oh do they work?
M: The kids? No, no. It is just fun.
E: About one year before, maybe two, I don't remember well...3 boys were coming down this river in a boat. They work at plantation far away. There was rain. Lots of rain and the river here was full. Big. And the you say?
M: Oh the boat tipped?
E: Yes the boat tipped and one boy fall out. He try to swim, swim, swim but not make it and he died right down there.
M: He drowned? That is very sad.
E: Yes.

M: Elisa, I heard that the whole village of Francia had an election on Sunday?
E: Election?
M: A big meeting to decide leaders?
E: Oh yes!
M: So what did they decide? Was it all good people you like?
E: Yes good people. We vote a new judge and new leaders everywhere.
M: What does the judge do for work in the village?
E: Well, you know if a boy take something, that is not good.
M: You mean stealing?
E: Yes, yes. The people take the boy to judge and he give the boy a lot of work.
M: He makes the boy work for stealing? I like taht. It's productive! Does the judge do marriages too? Or do people here get married?
E: Some people get married. It is good to wait a while to know your husband is good before you get married.
M: Do you have a husband Elisa?
E: Yes I have husband.
M: For how long?
E: Ten months.
M: Oh, that isn't very long. Are you married?
E: No, but I would like to. I know now that he is good man.
M: Well then you should get married! And soon so I can come!
E: (Laughing) Yes, yes. Sometime.
M: Do you have a party when you get married?
E: No, not so much.
M: Oh, in the US it is a big ceremony with a pastor and many people come. They usually have lots of food and party.
So Elisa did you have a husband before this man?
E: Yes, but he bad and I not marry. He drink a lot, not good. But my boy is very good. Never ever drink and good worker.
M: Oh that is good that he didn't pick up bad habits from his dad.
E: Sarah are you married?
M: No not yet.
E: How old are you?
M: I am 23.
E: But no children?!
M: Haha! Nope, no children yet. I am still in school. It is hard in the US to have children when we go to school for many years.
E: Ah yes. It is good to wait. Do you have a boyfriend?
M: Yeah I do.
E: Yes?! But you are here! How do you have a boyfriend?
M: I actually just saw him 2 weeks ago. You know when we left to go to Corn Island? He flew on a plane from the US to Corn Island to see me.
E: Yes?! Oh that is far!
M: Yes it was very good to see him. We have been together for 2 years now.
E: Oh so long? But that is good. You need to make sure he is good man. Make sure he not drink alcohol a lot.
M: Yes, it is good to know those things.
E: And Sarah, if he is bad you come live with me.
M: (Laughing) Ok I will do that! But it is very unlikely.

As we walked back from the river together, one of the other translators came up to us and said something to Elisa in Miskito. I asked,
"Elisa, what did he say?"
"Oh he say you are my sister!"
"Yes, yes Elisa. You are my sister.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011


Finished with our survival and spring break on Little Corn Island, our group said our goodbyes to the island paradise and flew out of Big Corn to the town of Bluefields on the Atlantic coast of Nicaragua. I love flying into the little airport there in our small 12-passenger plane because it brings back memories from a mission trip I did to Bluefields in high school. When we fly in to the runway I can pick out and see the roofs of the building our group lived in and the church that we built. The airport has a long walkway out to the runway with a bright blue covering that I can remember walking down before.

We landed and hung out in the waiting room of the airport for 3 hours watching dramatic soap operas in Spanish. It is fun to make up our own commentary of what is happening on the shows. Finally our plane arrived to take us to Puerto Cabeza so we gathered our passports and belongings, and stood outside waiting to be allowed to board. We watched them gather all our big bags and start packing them into the back of the plane. Suddenly one of the airport attendants grabbed one of the large army bags, threw it onto a cart, and came booking it up the walkway towards the airport. He ran up to the security scanner and tried to fit it through in a bit of a panic. Wren recognized it as one of our bags and walked over to see what was wrong. She turned to the rest of us confused and said, "It's beeping?" We all gathered closer and could hear a definite "beep.....beep.....beep...."

A group of airport security had gathered by now and had some concerned, fearful looks as the beep started to speed up faster and faster. Beth turned to me and exclaimed, "Sarah! That's your Catchphrase game that Arthur left." We all laughed and tried to explain to the airport security men that it was just a game. They didn't understand and motioned for me to find it. So I opened the bag and dug down to the very bottom and pulled out the round little game that was beeping like crazy. They all looked relieved but then wanted me to turn it off. It turns off on it's own and has no switch to keep it off so we eventually had to get a screwdriver and take the whole back off so that I could pocket the batteries before they were satisfied that it was no longer a threat. We quickly boarded our plane and headed off into the sky, laughing to each other over the scare it gave that young attendant trying to get it to the scanner in time and being glad that it happened at this little airport in Nicaragua instead of a bomb crazy airport in the States.