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Isabel

February 19, 2012

Isabel is officially the maid for the “big house” and my small attached apartment, but she is really my friend-mi amiga.  She comes everyday to pick up and mop the floors – they are made of stone in most of the apartment and tile in the bathroom. Since the rooms are open to the street (it is paved) it is pretty dusty so this is great.  In Nicaragua, most everyone has a maid who comes anywhere from daily (she does not work Sunday) to two or three times a week.  They clean, change the beds, do the dishes, and often shop for the family as they are better at bargaining and have better contacts than the expats.

What I love about Isabel is that she talks with me every day and because I asked her to she helps me with my Spanish. Last week we went over the sounds and the names of the letters of the Spanish alphabet.  I learned them last fall in Boston but I had forgotten them and it is very important to know the both those aspects as I often ask how to spell a new word.  In Spanish you pronounce every single letter so you need to know how they sound.  It is tricky especially “E” which is pronounced as our long “A”, and “I” which is pronounced as a long “E”.

Isabel has two children, a girl and boy, ages nine and six.  She speaks quite a lot of English which she uses with the clients who rent the house here, the owners and me of course. My goal is to speak to her in Spanish as much as possible and amazingly I am improving even after just one week.  It seems much longer, probably because my brain has been working so hard.

This week I have to get a haircut and take my classes and of course work on the business.  I am using Skype’s subscription plan to call cell and landlines in the US which is really inexpensive (around $3 a month). I just found Google Voice which is free if you have a Gmail account and which works just as well.  This is so different from other times I have been away as I am connected almost as well as in the US. The major difference is that people cannot call me directly (well, they can but it is expensive for them) and I need to call them back.  I have been using an internet phone system for several years for TCN and this is almost as good as Vonage which is what I use in the US.  Pretty amazing if you ask me.

I am off to the grocery store, there are 3 large ones and two of them are across the street from each other and are as modern as anything in the US. Beautiful, clean, full of many different items and they do not charge for the plastic bags. The other one is more typical of what I have seen in Latin American stores, more crowded, less selection and you pay a penny or so for each bag you need. Frankly, I think that is a good idea as it is a good reminder to bring your own bag or in my case my backpack.

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