Well the night was not as bad as the previous night, and I was wondering why when early in the morning, and I don’t know the time because in Nicaragua time is in a different dimension anyway and none of the people or animals seems to follow a normal pattern like “quiet and sleep when night and get up when light”, so it was sometime in the early morning dark during deep dream stage sleep that I felt it, not just heard it, and it was loud enough to set off a nearby car alarm, some supercharged wake-up-now made-for-the-military exploding firework. Up to that point my foam earplugs were sufficient to keep things toned down enough to sleep, but that nuclear blast from some well meaning but obviously time deficient yankee-hating person changed the game. I hope he wasn’t wearing his foam earplugs and now understands the difficulties and suffering he has caused, and will repent of his well intentioned but misplaced desires. Thankfully he must not have been able to afford too many of these bombs because the carnage stopped after 3 or 4 blasts, but the damage was done, and sleep was displaced by a zombie like state. If this were a TV series, I might have thought I had transformed into a zombie, and the bags under eyes would have confirmed the appearance. But I quickly remembered that today, Saturday, New Years Eve day, was our play day, and my mood quickly changed to a pleasant serenity, however if I ever did find out who kept waking me up, I was still capable of malevolent harm. 

Well we had a VERY good day, and our whole team had a great time, and how can you not when you start the day with a wholesome breakfast that included a fruit juice made from bananas and some other delicious ingredients that was sweet and healthy, fruit, eggs, and coffee, not quite like we are used to from fresh ground beans, but good enough from some kind of ground concentrate, it did the trick and the bags under my eyes were not quite as scary and no longer would have been targeted by a zombie hunter. We then went zip lining down the side of a dormant volcano covered by a canopy of very large ficus trees. This was my fourth time going, and it’s still a rush to hang upside down swinging your arms like a monkey, making monkey howls and hoots, speeding down a zip line, and everyone is laughing with you not at you. I think. Then we were off to Park National Volcan Masaya, which has a Nicaraguan Natural History Museum and a large semi active volcano. They only let you stay at the crater for 15 min, and you could not climb to the top of the rim as in previous years because there is active activity and visible lava flows, and if it goes off and explodes they want you to be able to get out of there quickly so you don’t get hurt. That is very kind of them. I wish they would extend that “safety first” mentality to the vicious criminals exploding bombs near our cabins every day, but again this is a different culture and I must not be negative, and you see all kinds of ironies every where you go, and you must not let it affect your inner peace, as you can tell it has not affected mine. We then went to get pizza at a local pizza place called Papa John’s that was very similar to what we have back home, and the pizza tasted very good, as pizza always does no matter where you are. Then off to shopping at a “mall” in Masaya, which is actually a collection of 120 small vendors selling all sorts of locally made products, and we stocked up on gifts for our loved ones. I won’t tell you what I got Nancy because I know you will spill the beans and tell her and ruin the surprise, but she likes whatever I get her because she knows it comes from the heart, right honey? 

After that we went to Oscar’s church in Masaya, which is a brand new church he just built on 2 acres of land. Now that may not sound like much to you, but land is very valuable here, and hard to get, but Oscar bought the land last April and immediately started to build the new church, and had it ready in 6 weeks which is very fast in any culture! We had a very nice New Year’s Eve service, which included many songs song in both Spanish and English, not at the same time though, and Oscar presented awards to all the many volunteers who have made a significant impact. The only slow part of the service was the sermon, and I followed most of it and only nodded off a couple of times, which was good because I was the one giving it. But the people were very gracious and smiled thru most of it, and afterwards they let me eat with them, so I think I did not offend them too much. Naturally I said nothing about the noise pollution I had encountered.

But after that, I have to tell you, all the negative perceptions and difficult trials I had endured went up in a cloud of smoke, literally. You see in Nicaragua, with all their strange national traditions, they did something that put them at the very top of the cultural pyramid; they started to blow things up! Everyone, old and young, girls and boys, pastors, wives, even the dogs (ok I am exaggerating a little bit) would set off something that explodes. And it started INSIDE the church with sparklers and little fireworks that explode when you throw then on the floor, and then it moved outside where the bigger stuff was all lit off, just outside the church. And it is not just a church sanctioned event, but a church funded event! The church provided all the fireworks, how great is that. I think I am going to ask for a line item in our church budget next year and call it “recreational supplies” and bury it in the Children’s program budget, and then go buy a whole bunch of fireworks and let all the kids set them off at church on the Fourth of July! The elders may give me a little resistance at first, but once they try it and see how much fun it is, they will thank me profusely! After that we came back to our home base in Catarina and waited for the real stuff to go off,  as I found out church was just the opening act. It started around 11:30, and peaked at midnight, and if I thought barking dogs and crowing roosters and drumming parades were noisy, this was insanity; pure genius insanity; everyone everywhere in Nicaragua sets off something, I think it is a crime if you don’t have fireworks. It was so loud and smoky you’ld have thought you fell into one of the volcanic craters. Now this is how you celebrate New Years Eve! Back home my family thinks my bothers David and Mickey  (and John Blodget too) and I are pyrotechnic maniacs, but I have to tell you we are rookies, “greenhorns”, kindergarteners compared to the Nicaraguan people, all of whom have advanced degrees in the fine art of explosive entertainment. And if I have to leave you one picture that conveys the entire night it is this; at church, while we were setting off the bigger stuff outside, sitting on the brick wall was a father holding a 14inch firework that you light and aim and it sends off these small rockets that fly out 50feet and then explode, and he held and steadied his daughter’s hand on the firework launcher as the rockets flew out the end of the barrel, and all of them including her mother behind her had ear to ear smiles on their faces at the joy of the moment; and the little girl was only about 2 years old! I was humbled, in awe of the culture I had previously thought deficient, but now realized was more technically advanced and socially developed than my own. It was a transformational moment, and I finally felt the peace and serenity I had been looking for, not relief from all the noise and chaos of Nicaragua, but fulfillment thru it. I truly believe that when we get to heaven and are celebrating one of the endless holidays we will have, there will be fireworks, and everyone will be participating and laughing and enjoying, and who knows, maybe instead of just shooting them off maybe we’ll be riding them, but either way, it will be a blast! I can only imagine.

 I will never complain about the noise again! And I slept like a baby.

With many Blessings

Dr Mike

(Pictures will be coming later when wifi finally speeds up)