Welcome to the dark side...

Trip Start May 10, 2009
Trip End Sep 03, 2009

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Flag of Nicaragua  , Rivas,
Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Yes, tis true... before June 9, 2009, Alice Tin had never tried coffee.  I figured I would wait

a) to find a chic European café (even with all time I spent on that continent last summer, did not find a particular one to my fancy... and why would you take a coffee in a plaza in Spain when you could have sangria? hahaa)

b) until the night before my first big exam in med school, when I would really really need it. my theory was that at some point you just keep piling cups of coffee on, whilst the desired effect of caffeine plateaus - on top of all the disagreeable characteristics of caffeine - diminishes your absorption of calcium, etc etc - not that I have a personal vendetta against coffee - I find the smell quite comforting, a proper breakfast-y smell

Claire and I were invited to a meeting of the community leaders (also known and La Junta Directiva). I had woken up early (4:30am) to see Hamilton and his son off (they had to return to Managua), plus Martita and I did 4 hours worth of house visits to collect census data - we record all the names and remarkable medical history for the members of the family, and do a brief analysis of their living conditions - where they get their water/if it's treated (the community only gets 8 hours of water per day - the energy costs required to keep the pump running all day are too high for the community), how they dispose of their garbage (mind you, there is no rubbish collection system in these parts...most people burn their rubbish.  yes, even the plastic.), whether they have a latrine/bathroom (some people don't, they have to borrow a neighbour's), what types of animals they keep, the general sanitation of the house, etc - I've really enjoyed going on these census trips with Martha - it allows me to talk to the locals and really get a sense of how they live, comparing it with how I live with my family...
    Anyway, this meeting was THREE hours long, and honestly, no progress in any discernible manner was being made - thus on top of all the other factors mentioned before, I started nodding off - I'm sure everyone must have noticed... and I really DID  try (but failed) valiantly to stay awake.  Finally, one lady got up and went into her house, reappearing some minutes later with a steaming cup o' joe, and put it firmly in my hands.  I peered down at the cup into its dark brown depths, and felt a warm reddness spreading up my cheeks.  In my bewildered, half-awake state, I frantically tried to think of ways to save myself from this embarrassment and stick to my plan for my first cup of coffee...but realized that there was no way I could get out of drinking this cup of coffee.. so I surrendered myself to the velvety dark, overly sweet folds (in classic Nicaraguan style - I'm surprised diabetes is not more of a problem here).

it was like someone stuck a lightening rod to my spine.  definitely did the trick.. I stayed very awake throughout the rest of the meeting.. haha so it really wasn't that bad. 
I guess in some ways, my first cup of coffee was in a setting that was even more perfect that I could ever imagine. 

Why have your first cup of coffee in a overpriced café or in a stress-ridden situation when you could meekly sip it (and cling onto it as your key to saving face) at an important community meeting?
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