I am awakened by a low, rhythmic thumping coming from the kitchen, accompanied by the murmurs of hens that compel me to get up. I untangle myself from my mosquito-netted bed and pad across the dirt floor to unlatch the door leading to the outdoor kitchen. The sun is barely over the lush Nicaraguan hills as I rub the sleep from my eyes. Crossing the yard littered with shovels and piles of dirt - evidence of Lorena stove construction (the reason I am living in Las Mesitas, Nicaragua for six weeks with my chapter of Los Amigos de las Americas) - I reach the kitchen to find the source of the thudding that woke me.
My host mom, Luvinda, is bent over the table pounding a mound of maza, thick dough made of hand-ground corn, into a tortilla. She looks up to greet me, asking in Spanish how I slept.
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