Thursday, February 15, 2018

A class field trip to Cafe de las Sonrisas

Cafe de las Sonrisas is a cafe slash hammock workshop that directly employs disadvantaged people. In this case, the majority of the employees are deaf. As a customer when you buy a hammock or a breakfast here, you directly give back to the people who need it most. I recommend visiting places like this while on vacation, for it is as close to a fair trade deal as it gets. 
    Our school chose to do a field trip here for obvious reasons, and in fact most of us who live in Granada visit this place a few times a year without fail. The field trip is similar to, and yet so different to something one would expect in North America. Similar in that there are chaperones, a bus ride, and demonstrations. And that's pretty much where the similarities end. The casualness and laid back attitudes of the adults allowing the kids to be kids cannot be ignored. I mean, if you want a blast to the past and experience 1970's parenting, in all of it's glory, then this was it. Kids were scaling wood pillars, walls, and horsed around and nobody minded not even the establishment. 
   Cafe de las Sonrises reportedly has the largest hammock in the world. What better way to observe the magnitude of such a grand hammock than with three classes of student romping around on it at the same time. Again, nobody cared. In fact, they encouraged the kids to have fun and like any good uncle, wound up the kids just before the kids had to leave. There are many things to like about Nicaragua and their easy going parenting style is one of them. 

How many kids can you stuff onto a hammock at the same time? 

Zoe and her favorite teacher learning how to weave.

The kids sat down for a presentation.

A tricked out school bus with a spoiler on the back.

Inside of the bus was equally tricked out with two wall mounted televisions and loud salsa music.

The kids learned how to spell their names in sign language.

Showing the youngsters how to make a hammock.

A great bathroom idea! This concept started because of the obvious question, how do you yell, "I need some more toilet paper!" to a deaf person down the hall? The owner explained, to the contractor that cafe needed more toilet paper holders than he had previously installed and that he had to come back to fix it. The contractor did not want to be called out again so he installed a few extra holders for the cafe. Afterwards, the owner of the cafe, saw the restrooms and laughed. And as history would have it, these restrooms have become quite popular with tourists as well.

Right now I am on a juicing diet so seeing this petal-powered blender was a welcome sight.

Plenty of room on this hammock.

Granada's annual poetry festival

Okay...I know what you are thinking, a poetry festival is about as exciting as watching grass grow. I have been there too. My past experiences can be summed up by squeaky college aged kids overly emphasizing their emotions while reading angry prose. The humanity of it all...
   Happily, Granada's annual poetry festival is a gem of professional writers from all over the world. Poets were reading in German, Finnish, French, English, Spanish and a half a dozen other languages for all to enjoy. The events are free and represent the best prose, in the world today. The energy level was high and the crowds motivated the speakers to press on. This is not only a celebration of an interplay between words it's also a celebration of Nicaragua's most famous poet and national icon Ruben Dario

Poetry being read in front of the San Francisco convent

Sierra's 12th birthday party

For Sierra's 12th birthday party she wanted a techno/disco theme with glow in the dark paints and finger lights. Needless to say, it was one heck of a rager. The kids danced, sang, ate, and had so much fun. The strobe lights, thumping music, and glowing faces gave our living room a rave party feel. The kids were shouting, "This is the best party EVER!" while they were dancing. I have to admit, the few parents that were there agreed, it was an awesome party. Fact is, our kids are getting older and their tastes are starting to get more defined. Watching Sierra prep and plan for her party was just as fun as the party itself. She is quite the artist and her creativity is what made the evening so special. Sometimes I wish time could stand still and do another million butterfly kisses with Sierra and hear her giggles forever. But, that's just not realty.

Birthday girl
Present time

Homemade cheesecake 

Homemade cupcakes on my beer tray :)


Baby bunnies, oh my

We had some new additions to our backyard. One of our female rabbits gave birth to three cute bunnies. The kids were over joyed and although I smiled too, I could not stop thinking about how are we going to get rid of them. Well, as nature would have it, bunnies are prolific and predators are crafty. Without saying anything else, we now only have one of those bunnies left. The gods favored the predators and in the process we achieved an equilibrium that I can live with. Having so many animals around our home has taught our girls that the cycle of life is much bigger than our emotional attachments. Whether the predators were owls, opossums, or snakes is irrelevant as the creatures of the wild need to live too.
    This is such a different world from the suburban bubble that we used to live, in our yesterlife. In our former hermetically sealed lives everything was so uniform and neat. Tuna came in a can, Chicken came in pieces, everything was so tidy, and there was never any blood, or loss, ever. Here, like other rural communities, we eat somewhat closer to earth. For example, our neighbor regularly butchers his animals and occasionally ours too. Eating a rooster that was crowing 3 hours before is now our new definition of fresh. The meat not only tastes sweeter but our appreciation for Robert the rooster means that we don't waste anything either, and I mean anything.
   We have some Italian friends (from Italy) back in Texas. Prior to our trip to Latin America grandma Linda said, "As a little girl I used to get a bunny every Easter as a pet." We replied like usual people by saying, "Ah, how cute." She then finished her story by saying, "We ate my pet rabbit every Christmas... and I got a new bunny every Easter." Our jaws dropped, we stood there in shock. We were mortified. What do we say? We managed to stutter that we were sorry she had to go through that. She simply smiled, like a reminiscing grandma would, and softly said, "That's the way it was back then and I was happy to do my part for the family."
    Fast forward 3 years and I get it, I truly get it now. Living closer to nature, unfiltered, with its dirty beauty is the truest way that I have ever lived. More importantly, my daughters get it too, and thankfully at a much younger age than I.
   For the record: Our bunnies are off limits to human consumption as I apparently swore under oath to my daughters that we would never have Hasenpfeffer :)

Baby bunny bliss.
Even my wife got in on the bunny lovin'.

Mother nature's fast food.

Zoe's best friend loves all animals.

Cutest to the tenth power.

Sierra put hibiscus flowers in her hair to keep them away from the bunnies. She later pulled the flowers down one by one when she was ready to feed the bunnies.