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 ...