Day 4 - The Return of the Tubs

Yo nessicito una computadora! (“I need a computer!” - Spanish phrase numero uno learned today.) The last news we had heard was that Bob and Scott had managed to get through customs and were going to head over to the school in the morning. They have been fighting for the tubs for 3 days now, so we have been without computers and all toiletries. We didn’t really find out how everything worked out and they didn’t have a chance to even call before they left on the ferry.

While walking down to the school, Jack and I ran into an enthusiastic Scott walking toward the Finca. The tubs were packed into two vans which were backed into the entrance of the school complex where all the TSC students lined up to help unload them. The Nicaraguans would not let us do all the work, however. They were eager to help and very excited about the prospects of what could be inside each one of these 40 tubs. Computers, soccer balls, gold, guns, girls? They really had no idea. We spent the next few hours unloading and sorting the equipment. Abe and Jacqui spent a lot of the time pumping up soccer and basketballs, Bob and I sorted soccer jerseys and various sports paraphernalia, and everyone else unloaded computers and monitors and took them into the new computer lab. By lunchtime, everything was unloaded and ready to be set up.

Our first experience with the students came when we split into our various foursomes and headed to a Nicaraguan kid’s house. I can really only speak from my experience, but I thought it went great. Catherine (the Spanish speaker in our duo) and I walked with Francisco and Jennifer (Nicaraguan Jennifer) to Jennifer’s house where her mom made us spaghetti. Only 2 or 3 times did Catherine run out of things to say resulting in some extremely awkward silences. Beyond that, Francisco was very talkative and everyone was nice and polite. We headed back towards the school, while above Vulcan Concepcion (the big, pointy, active volcano) some dark clouds were forming.

When we all reconvened back at the school, some of the other school children were already involved in a game of soccer on the cement basketball court in the courtyard of the school. A bunch of us Americans quickly joined in. Five minutes into the game, Zeus got angry. It was like someone tipped over a bucket on our head. A gigantic bucket that would pour for almost an hour. As soon as the lightning came, the Nicaraguan students, who knew they would lose points if they went to class wet, ran for cover. The crazy Americans, on the other hand, stayed for about 15 minutes running around in the hardest rain I have ever seen. The court was soon covered in 3 inches of water and the ball stopped rolling. We headed for cover where we were greeted with laughs from our fellow TSC members who elected to stay dry. My shoes were soaked and basically unwearable. Skylar, Peter, Jack and I had to take our shirts off, but Hannah and Punneh weren’t allowed to so they put on some of the jerseys we had brought for the students. Izzy also got soaked while he was wearing his blue jersey. Not only did it get drenched and weigh about as much as one of the computers, but some of the blue was bleached out and now he has this weird whitish-blue tie-dye shirt.

The Nicaraguans definitely got a kick out of us crazy Americans. First we refused to find cover during a thunderstorm. Then we all took our clothes off. Then we stood undercover and screamed every time there was lightning within a half mile of us. But, honestly, the lightning was scary and one strike that flashed simultaneously with the school bell made a few of us FLIP out. After all this, we retreated into the lab, locked the doors, and started setting up computers.

By 2 PM, the lab was physically set up. Three of the four walls of the room are lined with computers. After the physical setup, which was fairly easy, we had to do “golden imaging”. Golden imaging is basically configuring the computer. We do things from changing the desktop photo to loading programs. Ben spent hours making us all step-by-step instructions on how to do everything. Because of Ben’s efforts, it was easy but time-consuming. Ben is the greatest.

After half of the computers had been configured, Peter and I went out to the court to juggle a soccer ball. Jack came to join along with 2 or 3 Nicaraguan kids (who for some reason weren’t in school). Due to the condition of our clothing, us Americans were shoeless and shirtless. We started playing a game. It was 3 vs. 3 at first: Americans vs. Nicaraguans. It was a really fair game which is shocking considering the disadvantage team USA had with no shoes. I don’t want to sound like I’m complaining, but it was the most painful soccer experience I have ever had. The ground was wet with a layer of gravel, so we were slipping all over the place and afraid to challenge the Nicaraguans because they had shoes. We had so much fun. But now Jack’s and my feet are pretty cut up and permanently dirty. When Jack and I left, there were probably 20 kids playing and three times as many watching from the sidelines.

On the way back to the Finca, a few of us stopped for ice cream at a store where Ben (not our Ben; a Brit who owns the store) lives. He was super nice and the ice cream was amazing. It was getting dark when our small group left the ice cream store, so we decided to see if we could get a ride. Punneh had observed that Nicaraguans just jump on the back of trucks and ride for as long as they need. Well, a car full of Brits headed to the Finca pulled over and, before asking, Punneh and Ben jumped on the back. The guys started freaking out and told us to get off because it wasn’t safe. So, it turns out you can’t just jump on anyone’s car. Nonetheless, at the turnoff up to the Finca, a truck with water jugs was about to leave and they invited us to ride in the back of their huge flatbed with a fence around it (just wanted to emphasize its safety). When we arrived at the Finca, Ben announced he was going to swing out the back “como Tarzan.” He did so successfully. While I was exiting, I somehow managed to break a hole through the floor boards of the truck and fall all the way down on my right knee. I’m OK, though.

It was great to get the tubs. We now all have our toiletries and can take showers, wear bugspray, and wear sunscreen. The bug bites we already accumulated are really bothersome, though. Hannah has leveled off at around 30 on her legs, Peter and I have 10 on our backs, and Jack seems to be the only one escaping completely. Kate woke up not feeling well. She is dehydrated and possibly with some virus, but word is that she is in bed and getting better fast. The tubs have brought the boys cabin mosquito nets, so tonight will be bug-free. Tomorrow we will finish golden imaging and then network the computers (you’ll learn about that tomorrow).

Yo tengo una melacotone,

Will

(This means “I have a starfruit.” My second Spanish phrase of the day.)

P.S. - I tried to get pictures up but couldn’t figure it out. Peter claims to know how to do it, so I’ll let him give it a try next blog.