It’s true—I just celebrated my 68th birthday and will celebrate one more before I leave Nicaragua next year. How did I get so old? Pushing 70, but feeling 50. On reflection, I wouldn’t take the reverse, pushing 50 and feeling 70.
My birthday was pretty great. I got to talk to my two sons. I made a carrot cake, the first baking I’ve done here in Nicaragua because people are pretty reluctant to use ovens due to the cost of gas. But since I pay for half of the gas in my house and use much less than half of it, I asked Candida if I could celebrate my birthday by making a cake. Of course, she said yes. The cake went together pretty well. I found all the ingredients except baking powder so added a little more soda and hoped for the best. The oven has 4 settings—1,2,3,and 4. God knows to what temperature they correspond. I set it at 4 and took my chances. Probably it was a little too hot as the bottom of the cake had just started to burn when I rescued it from the oven. But the burn didn’t affect the taste and the cake was pretty good. Candida and I tried it warm with queso Americano (kind of like cream cheese) on it. Then I cut it into pieces and took some of them around to people in town I like, people who have been kind to me. I’ll deliver some more tomorrow if the election permits.
Tomorrow the municipal elections in Nicaragua take place. They are really important as the municipality is, I’d guess, the biggest employer here, so jobs are connected to election results. And political feelings are high, conflicts between the sandanistas and the liberals. Elections are occasions for possible violence and so Peace Corp has us on “stand fast”, confined to our sites for 3 days. Tonight I was talking to Candida and learned that there had been some fighting in town today. I hadn’t seen or heard it. It involved about 10 people, she said, but no weapons. So I’ll take this one seriously and stay inside, as she advises.
I spent some of the day cleaning my room, getting rid of cobwebs and moving stuff around to mop the floors. This is the first thorough cleaning I’ve given it and, aside from staving off boredom, I thought it was a good thing to do to mark not only my birthday but also the year-to-go mark. At this time next year I’ll be packing to leave.
The best birthday present of all came in a telephone call I received from Carlos of the Access program. If you read the blog entry entitled “If God Wills It” you know that I was pretty bummed by the slim chances that my 5 students had to be accepted into the program. Well, God apparently willed it because Carlos called to say that he could take 4 of the 5, the fifth one being too young for the program by a couple of months. I am dumbfounded. I thought for sure the kids were out of luck. And I’d hop in a taxi or walk down to their community tomorrow to give them the good news but for the stand fast. So tonight I am a happy camper, stuffed with carrot cake, heart bursting with happiness for my kids, the room cobweb free and swept. But there are two more days of stand fast and I can feel signs of cabin fever growing.