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Dance Party Nicaragua

  |   nicaragua, report from the field, spark ventures, travel   |   No comment
So, this wasn’t the blog I was planning to write. I intended to focus on the fantastic group of travelers with us from Florida, Boston, Los Angeles, Kansas and Chicago…to tell you how they are doing a great job with educational activities, games and crafts with the kids of Las Tías. I thought I would tell you about the fantastic views of the chain of volcanoes that we got to see atop the largest cathedral in central America. Or how the power went out right before we got to the beach restaurant for dinner last night and we started our meal watching lightening streak over the pacific ocean. But that is all you are getting about those things. I’m going to tell you what happened tonight at the home of Corina Alvarez, founding Tia of Las Tías.

We arrived around 6pm and we were immediately put to work chopping vegetables, making gallo pinto (beans and rice) and stirring a big kettle of something sweet that they told us was for dessert. The Toñas (local beer) were flowing and other guests began to trickle in. Slicing onions and cheese and garlic, sautéing green beans and mincing peppers. More and more people started to arrive because the for this meal, the families of the staff of Las Tías would be joining us. Frying, baking and boiling – we had to be preparing 10-12 different dishes. Husbands, children, grandchildren began to fill the house and the next thing I knew, someone had turned the stereo on with some Nicaraguan music. I quickly read a post on and started to put forth a few ideas of my own and very soon it felt like a big family reunion.


Once all the food was prepared and on the table, Tia Corina told everyone to come and eat… and we learned the hard way that it’s not customary in Nicaragua for the guests to go through the line first. It’s every woman, child and man for themselves. But no need to worry because there was more food than you could imagine including a massive wok-like pot with beef, yuca, green & yellow plantains, all covered in banana leaves.

After dinner, people were enjoying conversations around their tables, and I am particularly thankful for the few folks on this trip who know enough Spanish to translate for the rest of us. I was enjoying this amazing dessert (a pudding made with sugar, cornstarch, vanilla, cinnamon and, wait for it…..RUM, poured over sweet bread) when one of our trip participants and one of the Tías stood up between the tables and started to do a little salsa dance to the music. People watched and enjoyed and clapped politely when they were finished. And then the Tia looked at me and said something in Spanish that I assume was: “You. Me. We dance NOW.” And to my own surprise, I said, “Bring it on!”


Anyone who knows me, knows I’m not a great dancer, but in a setting like this, how can you not be willing to embarrass yourself a little and enjoy the moment. Tia Bernarda and I seemed to capture people’s attention – and I guarantee it was not due to my dance moves. Pronouncing my name “Reech”, she kept yelling, “Salsa, Rich. Salsa!”. But soon the attention was off of me as others joined us, kids dancing with kids, Nicaraguans dancing with Americans, Tias dancing with Spark staff members.

We still have three more full days in Nicaragua, so the adventure will continue – but the dance party in Leon will certainly be one of my highlights. Who wants to join me in April 2014 for the next one?!

– Rich

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