Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Our Host Family (and Their Little Dog, Too)

At the beginning of our trip, there were a few questions about our host family, but since I really didn’t know them yet, I didn’t have much to say. Now, I know them a little better.

I think this picture just about says it all:
Name: Princesa
Number of times per week she gets groomed: One
Favorite possessions: One red collar with mock diamonds, one red leotard outfit with the word “heartbreaker” inscribed on the back
Training: I am guessing not much, since she poops and pees in the house on a regular basis.

There are four people in our host family: mom Karla, dad Cesar, son Julio (age 19), and daughter Ninette (age 23).

We never really eat meals with them, which at first I thought was strange, but then I realized that they never eat meals together ever. In the beginning of our stay here, they never really talked to us, but now we chat, mostly only with the ladies of the house though.

Cesar is retired from the army, where he fought in the war for the Sandinistas. Karla is a stay at home wife and mother who has a little side business making hamburgers and nacatamales (read on for pictures) to sell, in addition to hosting international students.

The family has two maids that work in the house approximately 72 hours a week! That has been a pretty awkward aspect for us to experience. Many of our meals are cooked by one of the maids Maria, who is a middle aged woman with no family of her own to take care of, although she is a sweetheart. It is a bit difficult to communicate with her in Spanish though, partially because she is missing many teeth, so her pronunciation is a bit different.

The house we live in is quite nice with five bedrooms and many sitting areas. To put it bluntly, our host family is quite well off. In addition to their dog, they have pet birds, which begin loudly chirping (or squealing) as soon as the sun rises. Besides the birds and dog, we have had other animal visitors in the house, at our bedroom door:
The food that is cooked for us is quite rich and greasy, as is almost all food cooked and eaten by Nicaraguans.

Making and Eating Nacatamales (what I like to call "death in a banana leaf")

Mixing the corn mixture (with a lot of lard in addition to other unhealthy ingredients):
Making the nacatamales (ingredients include the corn mixture that sits overnight, rice, potatoes, peppers, pork, and raisins all on a banana leaf):
The finished product (uncooked):
Karla cooking the nacatamales (they sit in a big pot with boiling water for about four hours):
Matt getting ready to eat the nacatamale:
The crazy thing about nacatamales is that Nicaraguans eat them every Sunday morning for breakfast! And they all insist that you have to have coffee with it because it helps your stomach digest all of the grease better!

Other food we have eaten for meals in our house:

Gallo pinto is what this mixture of rice and beans is called. Most Nicaraguans eat it for two or three meals a day:
Lobster soup:
Rice, meat, and fried plantains:
Fried pancakes (you know it can't be good if your pancakes taste like a funnel cake, right?):
More rice and beans with a fried patty of bread, meat, and veggies that they call an enchilada. Plus, some bright pink juice made out of some fruit I have never heard of:Beef soup (this adds a whole new meaning to the phrase chunky soup):

Me washing my undies:


  1. Ha! Your mentioning the greasy food is funny, because the thing I forgot to mention about Paige's experience in Nicaragua is that she gained 15 pounds in the year that she lived there (due, she always claimed, to the greasy food). Now you've validated her claim. She bought jeans for 10 dollars toward the end of the trip to accommodate her, um, expansion. I'm sure a shorter trip won't have the same effect, so enjoy and eat up! :)

  2. oh brooke i lol at the chunky soup comment. can you bring me some of the lobster soup? and i would love to try a lard filled banana leave. cute blog today. i'm still smiling.
    hugs xoxo cyndi

  3. Hey guys it seems that you guys are having a good time! All that yummy food looks so good. See you when you get back.

  4. Brooke Im so happy you have been posting so much! I just read all your Nicaragua blogs!! Everything looks so beautiful, the culture, the city, the art, the people. I can't wait to read more!