Tarmac ribbons criss-crossing the landscape, dusty back roads twisting between the cool shadows of ancient pines, and less traveled pathways connecting present to past, all I wander, seeking, seeing, with my keyboard and camera capturing scenes and stories to share with you.

Now in its fifth year, this venue has become an important part of my life, a place where I can express my thoughts and feelings about the things I see and do, hoping the process brings me a bit closer to friends and family who enjoy sharing my sometimes chaotic and often nonlinear observations and ideas. A journal, I suppose, but one with which I find pleasure in thinking others are alongside me on my journey.

February 28, 2017

NICARAGUA - DAY 3: THE CAST OF CHARACTERS

... my nephew, jon, who brought me on this trip ... jon is more proof that i am, indeed, a most lucky man ...

... kevin, who is most graciously allowing me to be the group's senior member, has helped build ten houses like this—which means his body must occupy some sort of weird nth-dimensional space since there's just no way such a big heart could fit in a normal human frame ...

... austin, who brought us great laughter all the way from iowa ...

... hamilton, our seriously organized and remarkably cheerful construction leader ...

... marcos, who loves country music ...

... lester, "super dad," our project coordinator who is teaching us so much about his country ...

... sarah, our spirited team leader ... 

... kara, sister to sarah and a hot sketch in her own right ...

... roman, our engineer, making sure it comes out according to the plan ...

... diana, who "went up a scaffolding and came down a mountain" ...

... kari, in the dictionary you'll find her under "smile" ...

... jefe, who is master of every job on the site ...

... makin' a mud volcano ...

... fillin' the blocks ...

... keri and the girls do a bit of coloring ...

... little boys know a dad when the see one ...

... kevin seems to be providing a little extra energy to the effort ...

... "how come this block isn't filling" ...

... jefe seems to be everywhere at once ...

... "all this reinforcement, earthquakes'll just tickle this house a bit" ...

... hardhat sisters ...

... makin' the mortar ...

... she came to nicaragua to climb, and climb she did ...

... a family affair ...

... two nice guys ...

... boys and water and mud—nah, not really work ...

... niece-aunt-niece team ...

... "hey, when we're done maybe we can play a bit of rugby" ...

... "honest, pa, we're just playin' around" ...

... an homage to all the "rosie the riveters" ...

... "different worlds" mean little on this construction site ...

... after work we visited the a.j. fernandez cigar company ...

... on our tour we learned all sorts of fantastic things about how cigars are made, of which the most intriguing to me is that the process is in many ways very similar to producing wine and bourbon ... the workers in the factory were very friendly, and i was rather surprised at how nice the workplace was ...

... it was interesting watching the workers at each of the many stages of production ...

... the "rolling" of the cigars is both a mechanical process and an art ...

... our tour guide [again, name when jon arises] informed us that there were over a million cigars in storage, where they aged as long as five years ... he was an engineer who they brought in to translate for a group and was subsequently hired full-time ... to summarize what he told us, "i love cigars so this is a dream job for me" ...

... a worker and the father of the company's founder enjoying their cigars ...

... on the right is the father of the founder of the company ...

... a most unusual occurrence, and a rather amazing story that, unfortunately, i am not allowed to tell here, we all left the factory with a box of "new world" cigars ...

... hmmmm, perhaps a cigar before bed ... ??? ... nah, not a habit i want to start up ... i will try one sometime, however, simply to complete the memory of a most wonderful day ...

February 27, 2017

NICARAGUA - DAY 2: THE WALLS GO UP

[PROGRAM NOTE: IN THE PREVIOUS ACT THE PART OF FRANCIS WAS ACTUALLY PLAYED BY LESTOR]

... clears skies, moderate temperatures, after a rather bumpy van ride we arrived at the build site to find all had been prepared for us to begin working ...




... the entire work crew and soon-to-be already-proud home owners ...

... today we all served as "segundos" to the master builders ...

... the foundation walls had already been completed ...

... "piece of cake" ...

... "wait a second, in nicaragua do we measure in meters or feet" ...

... boarding one of the titanic's lifeboats, still, i think, would be a great smile ...

... sarah's wondering, "which one of 'em is going to lose a thumb" ...

... a study in concentration ...

... filling the walls ...

... the specific term is "task oriented" ...

... "okay, don't give me any of that 'it's a man's job' nonsense" ...

... "i think it's time to use the 'make it fit' approach" ...

... such harmonious coordination is rare in a first-time crew ...

... i'm going to have to ask him what he found to be so funny at the bottom of the bucket ...

... how marvelous, that in addition to rebar and blocks an mortar an equal quantity of "happiness" is also being built into this little house ...

... "watch, it's easy" ...

... "you were right, it is easy" ...

... "my gram used to sift flour like this" ...
... "muscle it, girl, we're building a loaf the size of a greyhound bus" ...


"What does love look like? It has the hands to help others. It has the feet to hasten to the poor and needy. It has eyes to see misery and want. It has the ears to hear the sighs and sorrows of men. That is what love looks like."
SAINT AUGUSTINE




... "attention to detail" is integral to good work ...

... since a major part of what we are doing is to construct a house that will be earthquake resistant, all of us, including austin, put a lot of energy into bending and binding rebar ...

... i've been asked, "why are you going to nicaragua to help build a house" ...

... here is my response ...

  

... helping to build this house, i am excited by the thought of what a most wonderful home it will serve ...