My first month here in Batahola Norte (the name of the barrio in Managua I am living in, as well as part of the name of the cultural center) I am staying in a host family’s house. Doña Daisy and Don Antonio are perhaps my parents’ age, with three children and one granddaughter. Like most families here, it’s generally accepted that children live at home until they get married. In this household, my host sister (25) and host brother (29) live here, along with their older sister (35) and her daughter (13) who are staying with the family while the husband travels.
It’s a full house. In addition to the seven humans currently sleeping under the tin roof, a parrot (named Daniel Ortega after the current president), two gatos (cats) and a turtle are residents.
The family told me they host foreign students twice a year for a month at a time, so they are plenty familiar with gringo-oddities. My first morning, already more than a week ago, I was offered full options for breakfast: corn flakes, four pieces of toast, jam, orange juice, coffee, gallo pinto (the staple Nica food of rice/beans), fried cheese, half a chicken, and fruit. Needless to say I didn’t go hungry. But, I have since been able to communicate both my gratitude for such generosity, along with my desire for more simple fare in the mornings.
It’s hard to say no all the delicious (although often greasy) food that is offered to me. As more confianza (trust) is built in relationships, it becomes more natural to tell them my true feelings.
Much of my time here will be about giving of myself–in vulnerability, stories, time put into projects and relationships. However, an equally large portion will be in learning to receive–hospitality, generosity and lessons on being.