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Washing, Jesuses, and lab specimens in my back pack...

As of today, we have been in Nicaragua for eight weeks... how time flies when Jesus has graced your front door religiously (yes, aren’t I amusing) every Thursday for the last month in preparation for that most holy of weeks, Semana Santa.

Turns out Jesus—or at least seven foot tall plaster replicas of him in various positions on roster blocks—quite likes to hang out at the Merced church, which is a mere stone’s throw from our front door. Not that Jesus throws the stones himself, you understand—I think he was against that kind of thing. And it’s not just Jesus... you might not be aware of this but here in Central America he has quite a large following. Usually this “following” consists of: the guys carrying him around (about twelve of them); the altar boys; the priest; a marching band with at least one tuba, three trumpets, a trombone, and a drum; and about fifty well-wishers on bikes or on foot. You should also note that each church has a Jesus of its own, and possibly a marching band as well, so in the lead-up to the Easter festivities there are lots of Jesuses out and about.

One of the things I really appreciate about spending Easter in a highly religious, third world nation is the complete lack of commercialism that accompanies Easter. Here, they actually celebrate the point of Easter—well Christian Easter anyway.

Jesus?... Check.

Lent?... Check.

Palm fronds?... Check.

Catholic guilt?...Check.


Unashamed commercialism?...

Ugly foil rabbits?... Not at all.

Apparently it will all get drunken and rowdy come Sunday. But I can’t express how much I appreciate not having to look at chocolate catalogues. And, if the people want to get trashed to celebrate Jesus rising from the dead, I don’t have a problem with that.

So, many things have occurred since I last wrote:

We went and hung out at the Laguna de Apoyo for a couple of days. It’s a body of water in a volcanic crater, slightly salty and warm from underground fumeroles. We kayaked, we swam, we ate, we drank, we got horrendously sunburned... We moved into our freshly-painted-with-the-aroma-of-wet-dog house.

Kaleb has arrived. Barbara arrived and then left.

We are still taking Spanish lessons.

I wash all the clothes by hand on a washboard with a bucket of water and a cake of detergent and David mops the floors with a rag.

However, I can tell you’re all just dying to know what I mean by the lab specimens... So here goes.

David decided that I had developed a suspicious (“sospechoso/a” in Spanish) looking “freckle” on my back after our sunburning sojourn to the laguna. So, I made some enquiries as to where those from the good ol’ US of A go to get checked out, and found myself a doctora who also specialises in Lyposuction, Botox and chemical peels... so, of course, I made an appointment for all of those things, but also to have my mole checked. It was my hope that, since this Doctora saw all the ex-pats, she might speak some English. Not that I’m unwilling to learn/speak Spanish. It’s just that I’m not that keen on sitting and nodding uncomprehendingly until I pick out an odd word here or there that I assume means what I think it means when it is my back on the line. Sadly, la doctora didn’t speak English, bar one phrase (which I will keep to myself for the moment). So I took Dave along for moral support and we managed to convey that I’d been to the doctor but six months ago for a check, this looked suspicious, what did she think? David helpfully informed her of my family history, and she decided I should have a biopsy. She told us that there was no pathology lab in Granada and that we would have to go to Managua, but then she told me to come in tomorrow for the biopsy so we assumed we had misinterpreted.

The day after the next day (it was a Nica-time appointment) we went back and I was given a local anaesthetic (I managed to translate the question “are you allergic?”) and then, as la doctora was gouging at my back, she pulled out her one English phrase: “No pain? No pain?”. As it was on my back, I couldn’t see anything, but Dave was looking a bit pale as la doctora and her twelve year old assistant finished drilling this circular blade that looked like a leather punch into my skin. They finished off taking the sample and dunked it in a jar with formaldehyde, and then cauterised the spot she had gouged at. Followed by which, she wrote some instructions, wrote my name in texta on the jar, handed it over to me with the name and address of the pathologist in Managua, and told me to come back with the results in a couple of weeks. Oh!? So here I am carrying my own mole to the bus. Sigh. Nothing like being your own pathology courier.

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