We are in semi-isolation here in Granada. The streets are barren. Many of the shops and restaurants are closed or reducing contact with their customers. We are greeted at the local supermarket with masked men armed only with spray bottles of chlorinated water. Our prepared food can be delivered to our door. Our conversations on Facebook and SMS are longer and more involved. The hustlers and vendors still line our commercial street, yet they now have bandanas covering their faces and are wearing gloves.
There maybe less isolation than you are experiencing, if you live in the U.S. or Canada or Europe or China. But for us here in Nicaragua, it is a huge change. You see, this week is what we call Semana Santa or Holy Week. It is the week between Palm Sunday and Easter.
Hundreds, if not thousands, of Nicaraguans are off work and flock to the beaches. Whether it be on one of the coasts or to our own Lake Nicaragua beaches here in Granada. It’s a family time. It’s a party time. Think of Memorial Day or July 4th (if you’re from the States) stretching five days into the week.
It is the hottest time of the year here, so we have had days where we climb well over 40 degrees (about 104 in Fahrenheit). The water is a great respite for the muggy climate. Baskets full of food, ziplock bags of Koolaid, and beer are staged along the lakeshore. I like the word “frolic” and it is the best word to describe what the children do as they run in and out of the water. I love watching that dance performed by the toddlers who are experiencing waves for the first time. A ballet beginning with fear, followed by the “en pointe” tiptoe of timidity, crescendoing with courage, resulting in pure joy. Yes, sometimes there are tears. But it always a joy to watch.
All of that is not a reality for most families now. Like you, normality has been thrown out the hermetically sealed window. Banality, once shunned, is our new reality.
That isn’t always so bad though. Except for the few pictures of idiots fighting each other for toilet paper, I believe that this for most, has become a time of self examination. Kindness appears to be reemerging as we begin to think how truly connected we are in the human race. The cashier who has swiped your food for years without exchanging a word now asks how you are doing. You might have received a message from that college friend you haven’t seen in years. Last month you didn’t have much time for the new, the original. We were spinning our webs of activity, taking names, writing notes, working on project teams but not connecting.
Don’t let this opportunity run by you. Take the time you never had before to do the things you dreamed of doing. Write a novel. Sing a song. Read to your children. My dad would always look at me strangely when I told him I was bored. He thought that ennui was the curse of the uninventive. I learned quickly not to tell my mother of any boredom. She would find something for me to do, and it usually was housekeeping related.
As I have said, and as those who are acquainted with me know, I am a people person. I love hearing chattering voices, clattering glasses, tinkling silverware and children’s laughter. Solitude is not where I shine. But in this self imposed sentence in the prison where there are no other inmates, I have become even more appreciative of you, my friends.
The work goes on here. I have visited several of my students. I use all the technology available to us and teach the classes I can teach. Masked and gloved, we gave out food to people at church. We still have a small Bible Study on Wednesdays. I have a small group of friends that have similarly sequestered themselves which I have deemed “safe”. But for the most part, I stay at home. Praying that this pandemic goes quickly. Hoping that my loved ones are spared. Hoping that your loved ones are spared. Knowing this mess that we are in can end in two ways. One is to sink into the pit of bitterness. The other is to use this time, time we never had, time we wasted on other endeavors, to look for ways that we can improve and ways that we can better serve those around us.
I love you all dearly. If I haven’t told you that lately, expect to hear it soon. Be safe. Wash your hands. Do something creative.
Dios los bendiga