November 2006 in Nicaragua- almost Thanksgiving

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November 2006 Sandinista Elections in Nicaragua
The past few weeks have just been gearing up for the elections. To put it simply (I hope I’m right about this), there are three major parties and candidates up for the presidential election this Sunday. There is the FSLN, which is the Sandinista Party, and Daniel Ortega is the candidate. He is a former president (read: dictator) who was in power from 1979-1990. Opposing Ortega are two front-runners, both splinters from the PLC party (Liberal Constitutional Party), Eduardo Montealegre, and Jose Rizo. So, in this crazy country, a candidate needs just 35% of the vote, and a 5% lead over the next guy, to win the Presidency. Right now Ortega is polling at 33.9%, and Montealegre at 28.8%. A run-off would consolidate the votes against Ortega, but if he pulls ahead of 35%, the Sandinistas could win this election.

Enough of politics. I went to Costa Rica for a weekend and had a lovely time, in mid-October. Great weather over there. They are slightly elevated and have cooler breezes than we do here. It has been hotter than hell here in Managua. Up until this week, we were continuing to have major power cuts- up to 5 hours a day. The classrooms (tin buildings built as ‘temporaries’ after the 1972 earthquake) heat up like little Easy Bake ovens with teachers and students in them. Without fans and lights they are like little boxcars. And the rainy season started, which is nice when it rains, as it cools things off, but when it rains in school, the rain on the tin roofs of the building make it so loud that you literally can’t hear anything in the classrooms. Tons of fun. Things were really building to a head by the end of last week, but I have to say that this week has been better- temperature wise and everything else. It seems to have- I won’t say “cooled off”- but it is not in the 90’s each day; mid-80’s instead..

For my birthday weekend, the girls took me to a big fancy hotel we have here- the Intercontinental– and we had a champagne brunch. Right next door is the mall, so got pedicures afterward. On the actual birthday, we went to TGI Friday’s, because I was really craving an American meal. 8 of us went out to dinner that night. The girls bought me a cute black top that ties around the neck, and a beautiful sterling silver bracelet. They also got me a piece of pottery for my dining room table. Rodolfo and Chuck have both promised to take me out to dinner next week, and my seniors brought me two cakes and a pizza! Zack and Erin got me a “Gallo Pinto” shirt, which is Nicaragua’s famous breakfast dish. Yum. I’m hoping my packages from Kris and Ken arrive soon, and my cards from dad and Mimi.
Thanks to everyone else who emailed me, called me, or IM’d me on my birthday. It’s great to be able to stay in touch with everyone.

What started out as a simple dinner amongst the 8 of us living in the school apartments has now grown to a 26 (or more) person Thanksgiving dinner, with the maintenance staff now setting up tables, chairs, and tents in case of rain. I am making broccoli, cheese and rice casserole, with a few modifications. No broccoli in the fresh produce aisle this week, and no broccoli in the frozen aisle as well. I bought two packages of a “broccoli, cauliflower, and carrot” blend, and I guess I can either cook it all or pick out the other stuff. Also, no cream of anything soup- not chicken, mushroom, OR celery- to be found in this country, so will have to make do with a “nacho cheese fiesta” soup. I imagine there will be enough wine and rum served tonight that most people won’t care what they’re eating.

On Thanksgiving morning, the girls and I leave for Corn Islands. Should be a fun place to visit, and will most likely remind me of the three years I spent living in the Caribbean. The islands aren’t very big- Big Corn (population 8,000) is 10 square km and Little Corn is only 3 square km. We are very much looking forward to a long weekend of little more than walking around, drinking rum, snorkeling and diving, and reading (I am just about to start Caesar: Let the Dice Fly, the 5th in the “Masters of Rome” series that Andy, Chris, and I are all reading).

When we return from vacation, only 11 school days remain, then a blessed Christmas holiday for us all. Much needed. Things have been quiet since the election, and most people are recovering from the shock of the Sandinistas winning. Only time will tell what the end result of that election will be. Today a man from Gran Pacifica came to talk to us (anyone wanting to buy a beach house should check out their site) about the likely foreign investment scene here for the next few years (main idea was that “hopefully” things will be fine…). None of our kids/families left Nicaragua although some “plan” to leave at the end of the school year…. but we’ll see. In my experience (worldly as it is), families don’t start leaving until people start dying… or their land gets confiscated. We’ll see how it goes.

The weather lately has been fantatic, this morning we were actually chilly and this afternoon is quite pleasant. If I could just find somewhere to live that had was like this year round. I loved Haiti in Nov-Feb also. But like here, you have to deal with a good 4-6 months of hotter than hell weather, which is not so fun.

Oh, by the way, thanks to Dad, and Mimi, for their birthday cards! And to Ken and Kris for their packages! You guys rock!!

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