WHERE to begin when talking about how our first week in El Bramadero!? I will start with where I am now, sitting in my bedroom. Today the group have gone on this massive 4 hour hike but I can’t go because…well… regular fans will be more than familiar with how my body reacts to unusual new diets. Let’s just say nobody deserves to spend this much time up close and personal with a latrine. But guys you should never let a bad tummy get you down so I’m using this time to record my adventures.
El Bramadero is the community we are living in and it is in the hills of northern Nicaragua. It took about five hours to drive here from the capital, but I don’t think it’s actually that far, it’s just our minibus driver never went faster than about 30mph, which I didn’t complain about because that’s how I drive! Because we are up top in the mountains, the weather here is absolutely glorious. Deep blue skies, sun and a cool breeze. The countryside is also totally lush and green, despite the fact we learnt this week that Nicaragua is now entering its third year of extreme drought. Those in the know refer to El Bramadero as “El Bram”, which is what I’m going to do henceforth as I am basically a local now.
Everyone I’ve asked knows that there are 163 families living in El Bram, but nobody seems to have any idea how many actual people there are, which I find absolutely fascinating. We live in the middle of the village, by the road. Nobody has told me this but I’m pretty convinced that our host family are Big Names in the Community. How can I describe the house….well, with the houses, the first time you see them it kind of takes your breath away because it’s like going back in time. They remind me of a cross between the Black Country Living Museum and a petting zoo. Then after a couple of days you seem to realise everything works pretty well and maybe it’s not actually as basic as it first appears. By Day 6 I’m feeling well accustomed.
Our bedroom is in an outhouse made of mud and wood, looking out onto the yard. The floor is earth packed down neatly. Me and my roommate have single beds adorned with a fetching, fluorescent orange mosquito nets which we quite like as it makes us look like princesses. Then we have a table, chair and a bench to put things on. There is one window that looks out onto some green trees and hills, and there’s no glass in it so when you open the wooden shutter all the bugs fly in. Because we are princesses we have named our room El Torre – The Tower.
On the other side of the yard is the kitchen and the rest of the house. The kitchen has a wood burning stove in the corner that seems to be made of concrete or something. The women spend most of their day in there, making tortillas or soaking beans or grinding coffee. If I had to compare the home to a fictional place I would say Cold Comfort Farm, but I think that could mean we are staying in the Woodshed which is a bit daunting so maybe let’s forget I ever mentioned it…
Now hopefully I have painted quite a beautiful image of the area. It looks so pretty doesn’t it!? One of those places that looks so nice on photos. Or in silent movies. Or basically any medium where there is NO NOISE. Oh my god the noise. People here get up early and crank out the reggaeton and turn on their motorbikes and are quite noisy. At the moment they are doing some basic road works outside with a tractor. But this human noise is truly nothing compared to the sound of the animals. Right now, outside my window the family dog who is too naughty to be let loose is crying. She’s chained to a fence post. I’ve tried to cheer her up but she only likes me when I sneakily feed her chicken bones under the dining table. The dog sets off the rooster. The rooster is our most hated animal. He struts around cockadoodledooing and bothering the hens. And he wakes up BEFORE dawn. I mean he wakes up at like 3 am and then proceeds to wake up all the other roosters in the nearby vicinity and they have a screaming match for about three hours and it’s a wonder nobody shoots them all. If I go outside my room the family´s baby cow stands munching and staring accusingly at me. Him and his mother like to moo but they don’t do it too often. If I wander to the latrine (which I seen to be doing far too regularly right now) one of the three family pigs might come and disturb me with its grunting. There’s also three horses and two bunny rabbits and a parrot that pooed on my head yesterday. After the rooster has made his wake up call, the animals seem to get up at about 5am, and then our host mother starts to work at about 5.30. Then they potter around grunting mooing whining chirping clucking pooing until the sun sets. Our host mum has a charming granddaughter called Marjory who liked to sit with us. She’s about 13 and spends her day helping with housework. We complained to her about the noise and she giggled and said “ah! That’s Nicaragua!” I’ve never lived with so many animals and even though they’re noisy I do still think they are kind of cool.
Theres so much more to say but I will finish now…. tune in next week when I will answer the question on everybody´s lips…. WHAT IS A LATRINE?
Kisses from the missus xx