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Thursday, October 7, 2010

Agua! Agua! Agua!

At almost every major intersection in the capital city of Managua you'll here it being yelled.  Small kids, young men, even 30 something year old women, all yelling out, "Agua!  Agua!  Agua!".  They walk up  and down the streets, strolling between the lanes of traffic, and jumping on any opportunity to make small change for selling bags of water.  Yes, I said BAGS.  

I decided one day to go and buy shoe polish, then wrote on a sign "Lustrado de Zapatos", and set out to the streets of Managua to see if I could polish peoples shoes.  My buddy Zach came along with me.  It was an extremely successful idea, and drew a lot of attention.  I saw an older woman sitting beneath a tree, with a whole gang of street men, women, and children.  I asked her if I could polish her shoes, and we got to talking.  She and the rest of the people there sold water, and other services such as window washing amongst the traffic.  I asked if I could come back and work for her.  She laughed, probably not sure if I was being serious.  But I was.  And we were hired!

Two days later we reported for our first day of work.  1-3 this afternoon was our shift.  Zach washed windows, and I sold water.  In all, there must have been 20 people working out in the traffic, some selling water, some food, some random other things, even one guy was selling plastic picnic chairs.   I was handed a large bag, with about 30 or so smaller bags of ice cold water, and I began walking up and down the street.  As cars would stop for the red light, I would yell out "Agua!  Agua!  Agua!".  Now, I was an amateur to say the least... but the 6 or 7 young boys working alongside me were pros.  They helped show me the ropes, pointed out the cars or buses to run and sell to, so on and so on.  Professional street venders, at age 11.  Amazing.  They shocked me with how ambitious they were, how smart, how energetic, and how excited to work there.  I kept thinking, if only they were in school, got an education of some kind, they would make the best CEOs or businessmen.

In the end Zach and I made about 40 cordoba each (thats about $2 American), and we decided to keep our earnings.  While we wanted to be charitable and give them everything we had made, it felt like we would offend them to work alongside them and yet not keep our wages.  The last thing we wanted to do was seem prideful.  So we took home our earnings, and thanked them for the opportunity to make some money and spend the day working with them.  I would do it again if I am able.  It was, for lack of a better word, a COOL experience.  I don't ever want to travel to another country and put off the impression that I am some how superior to them.  I want to do what the locals do.  And so I yelled, "Agua!  Agua!  Agua!"

the workplace
the stock.

Zach working hard


working hard

reporting back to the boss...

hard earned wages

My wonderful Nicaraguan boss.

Thank you!

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Anonymous will said...

Brandon,what an awesome story. I'm so proud of you guys down there and can't wait to join you guys!

October 7, 2010 at 8:14 PM  
Blogger Tyler Dean said...

Love it! :-)

October 7, 2010 at 8:23 PM  

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