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A Gift for Mama Nira :: Cartagena, Colombia

Everyday at 2:00 p.m., Nira assembles her juice stand in la Plaza de la Trinidad, located less than a block from our hostel, Casa Valda.  “La Misericordia de Dios” (The Mercy of God), is painted in faded reds and blues across her four-wheeled wooden cart, and the counter is neatly assembled with oranges, passionfruit, mangos, tomate de arbol, bananas, and other brightly colored fruits in clear plastic containers.  Nira, who was once on the brink of starvation, recounted to Nick the purpose for her daily presence in the plaza: God came to her and insisted that she open a juice stand.

Nira, who usually has a smile on her face and a spark in her eyes, befriended our group within days of our arrival to Cartagena.  Our friend Greg soon nicknamed Nira “Mama Nira” and the name stuck.  Since then, Nick has visited Nira multiple times a day, purchasing just about every combination of fruits that Nira has to offer.  Nira has toured Nick through the neighborhood, introduced us to her family, and met all of our friends who have passed through Cartagena.

As a result, Nick and our friends Greg and Lee, who are also staying at Casa Valda, decided to construct a present for Nira.  Since Plaza de la Trinidad sits so close to calle Media Luna, a street hosting several hostels and hotels, the plaza is a routine meeting place for backpackers to eat dinner and drink beer in the evenings.  Why not make this juice stand capable of serving mixed drinks? Nira thought this was a great idea.

The boys created a wooden and plexi-glass compartment, which includes lights and a lock to secure it’s contents.  After lining the box with bottles of liquor, they carried their gift to the plaza and presented it to Nira.  They bolted the compartment into Nira’s cart, and she passed out a round of mixed tropical drinks.

Since Nira received the liquors, she has bought coconut milk, cherries, and sodas.  Her pina coladas are excellent, but my favorite is still naranja with tomate de arbol (and sometimes with a shot of vodka).  Independence week brought even more business to Nira’s juice stand, and she now able to earn more profit with every liquor drink she sells.

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One Comment

  1. Incredible kids! We love it! Give Mama Nira our best! Makes it so much easier not having to carry our the bottles of Medellin Ron!

    1. Erik Myhre on November 20th, 2009 at 2:42 pm

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