Posted by: HelenRortvedt | 3 February 2006

It’s a small world afterall…

It has been one of those weeks, when everywhere I turn, I find some connection to another, seemingly distant and disconnected, part of my life.

I have met two different Nicas (so far) that studied in Cuba during the Sandinista era, and have truly enjoyed reminiscing with them and hearing about their experience as Nicaraguans in Cuba with Daniel Ortega’s blessing. The relationship today between the two countries is not what it used to be, although there are certainly remnants of Cuba’s revolutionary tutelage present here in Nicaragua…just as there are remnants of the USSR’s in Cuba. I often think of the host, Juan Carlos, at my favorite paladar in Havana, who studied in the USSR and still reads any Russian romance novels that he can get his hands on in Cuba…

We have made steady progress in the English lab at Juan Jose (which, in and of itself is worthy of a post on nicajournal!), with most of the installation well underway. William, the electrician we are working with, was one of the men who studied in Cuba. He is very handy and can make anything work…even when I buy the wrong parts because I have no idea what I am doing! He learned from the resourceful Cubans, so it is no surprise! Tomorrow (yes, Saturday…) we are hopefully going to complete the installation of the auidosystem, which will expand the capacity from the previous 12 listening stations to 25.

We interviewed a young lady yesterday afternoon who is interested in working in the English lab, which is excellent. She and I will work together while I am here, and I can help train her to take over and, thus promote sustainability after I leave. Which is exactly what I am here to do. In keeping with the small world theme, she lived in the US for 15 years when she was a kid…in Arlington and Alexandria, Virginia, no less! She was a student at PATRICK HENRY ELEMENTARY SCHOOL…just on the other side of Rt. 50 from Long Branch, and is just a year older than me.

As if those small world revelations weren’t enough, I met with Maria de Jesus yesterday afternoon (she is the FSD country director) to get the grant money and fill her in on the goings on at Juan Jose, and she informed me that there are in fact two other FSD interns in Nicaragua right now. One is in Masaya, and the other in Ciudad Sandino. We are all going to try to arrange for a meeting next weekend! It’s nice to know that I have come compañeras out there…

Finally, after a long, crazy, but successful day of shopping for things I have no clue about in Managua, I strolled towards home, and took a moment to sit in the park and relax. No sooner had I sat down, then did a noticeably North American man stroll by. He asked me if I was North American, and I said that I was, and then asked if I was with the Peace Corps, and I said that I was not, but rather with the Foundation for Sustainable Development. His jaw dropped, and he told me he had just gotten off the FSD website, and was looking for contact information. He is here in Nica doing all kinds of business development work (mostly agrobusiness, dad!), and was looking for more info about FSD. He had heard about FSD from a friend of his, whom I had met this afternoon at Juan Jose and had chatted briefly about the work I was doing.

I am sure that my description of these events is quite confusing. It’s hard even for me to keep it all straight, really. But, it all just confirms in me the notion that this world we live in is really small…and that we are all connected in some way. It’s really wonderful to realize. We are nearly 7 billion strong as a species, but somehow, the immensity of this world seems to shrink when we least expect it in order to show us how much we are all alike at the end of the day.

I will leave you all with that thought for now…and a few more photos. More updates to come. But the nutshell is this: progress is being made, I am meeting fascinating and welcoming people, I am learning, and I am happy. I hope this finds you all well.

Dionahi, Fernanda and Allison (D & A are Nahima’s kids, and Fernanda is my “little sister” and a first year student at Juan Jose)

Nahima, Tia Lorena, Me and Allison

The procession of Saint Teresa during the fiestas patronales of the town of the same name. Santa Teresa is a very small town, even more tranquilo than Jinotepe, about 10km away.

Some of the caballeros take the Hipicos very seriously–showing off their horses by braiding and tying bows in their manes, and having them “dance” for the crowd.

Hipico in Santa Teresa.

“Pancho” is the family’s pet parakeet (?) and he likes to wake me up before dawn!



  1. This is beautiful, Helen. I will write more but just wanted to say hello and sorrow I missed you at the house again! Mom says you are well and learning lots- cuidate mucho!

  2. It really is true, the more you travel the more you see the ties between us all, bumping into the most familiar people in the strangest of places!
    Your Nica tales make 9am in my London office a little more eventful…keep enjoying those sunsets ;o)

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