Tuesday, April 17, 2012

The Big Move

I guess I’m not that great at making New Year’s resolutions.  No blog in the month of March but here goes April…

I moved!  I wasn’t sure if it was worth it because I only have 7 months left then realized that 7 months is a pretty long time.  A friend was looking for someone to rent one of her houses and gave me the opportunity to rent for the same price I had been paying in my previous spot.  It’s much more space and a little farther away from the center of town, which is exactly what I wanted.  Two Nica friends helped me move in on Saturday after waiting 3 hours for the man with the truck to finally arrive and transport all my things.  $3 (for the truck) and 4 hours later, I was all settled in.  There’s a great breeze (due to actually having windows), high ceilings, a huge gated front porch, space for a hammock, my own indoor bathroom and shower, and no mosquitoes.  I’m not a fan of the chickens that come to visit fairly frequently.  The entire house is cement, including the floors, which is even better because now I don’t have to mop.  I just sweep then throw water on the floor to get rid of the dust.  I already have a great relationship with my neighbor and her family because on day two, I got locked out twice…

I had just woken up at 6:30 am and went outside to fill the lavendero (where I wash clothes and dishes) because we didn’t have water the previous day.  As soon as I walked outside, the wind slammed the back door shut and I was left outside in my pajamas with flip-flops but bra-less.   My neighbor was nice enough to let me borrow a sweater to walk about 5 blocks to my old host family who had the extra key.  At 7:00 am I was back in the house, taking a shower to head to catch the bus leaving for Boaco.  I get back from Boaco, lock the gate, open the front door, and head out the back door to fill up my water bottle.  Wind comes.  Door slams shut.  This time I was in a trickier situation because I now had both sets of keys on my plastic kitchen table.  I went back to the neighbor’s and she just kind of shrugs her shoulders and says, “Now what do we do?”  Luckily a man passed just at that moment.  I explained to him my situation and without thinking, he climbed up the pointy gate that’s supposedly protecting my house and entered the open front door and handed me the key to open the gate’s lock.  (I probably shouldn’t be writing this because I’m sure my mom is now worried about me living in an insecure house.  Don’t worry, the security guy from Peace Corps approved it.)  Each time I tell that story the response is, “You really need to use a rock to keep that back door from slamming shut.”  “Yea, yea, I know.”

Aside from those two mishaps, everything is going really well!  I had an amazing spring vacation on the Atlantic Coast.  The life is so different there mainly because the majority of the people speak Creole (a mix between English, Spanish, and native dialect).  The 12 hour trip out there wasn’t the best (7 hours in a school bus overnight, waiting 2 hours from 4:00-6:00 am, 2 hour motorized canoe ride) but very worth it.  The week after spring vacation, I went to Selva Negra, a beautiful nature reserve up north where it is very cool… I’d even say cold although that doesn’t take much anymore.  I went on Tuesday to give a presentation to the new environment group and had another presentation to give on Wednesday all in Spanish.  On Thursday, my group came for a few presentations and I was back in Teustepe on Friday.

Now, back to class.  I’ve been contemplating a lot about what I want to do after Peace Corps and there are no definite plans yet.  I was seriously considering going to graduate school for social work but I’m pretty sure that I now realize my forte is teaching.  I’m sure I’d love all aspects of social work but do feel really comfortable in the classroom.  I now need to decide on exactly what I want to get a Masters in.  Definitely something that deals with education but also will give me the opportunity to work overseas.  Any suggestions??

My women’s group is still making earrings.  We recently sold 14 pairs and made C$280.  The softball team is on a bit of a standstill.  We try to practice or play on Sundays when no one has class.  I’ve been working with a man from a local organization on my school compost and gardens.  We’re also going to work in two communities to give presentations on patio gardens then give each family seeds to start their own garden.  Class, as a whole, is going very well.  Teaching two days per week at each school with each teacher has made a huge difference.  There is much more continuity in the lessons and I feel that the students are learning more. 

Just a funny anecdote… I was waiting for a bus with another volunteer outside the airport to get back home.  Of course no buses passed so we took a taxi to the bus terminal.  The taxi driver asked where we were from so we said the United States.  His response… “But you’re not the type of gringas with the blue eyes.”  Nope.  As a matter of fact, not all gringas have blonde hair and blue eyes.  

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

un zoológico

Many people have been asking me how much time I have left in Nicaragua and my answer is “Ooooh, bastante!” or “A ton!”.  In reality, these next 10 months are going to go by way too fast.  School is starting in a couple weeks, which means Monday through Friday will fly.  My friends and I always find something to do in Teustepe and there are plenty of places I’d still like to explore in Nicaragua so weekends will also be full.  The daunting question now is, “What’s next?”  No answer yet.

My second world map is finally complete!  Well just the names of the bodies of water are missing.  I had started in it July with two Amigos de las Americas volunteers and continued working with the school secretary.  My site mate came to help me one day and after all of collaborative efforts, it looks great.  Although it’s a very frustrating project (gridding, drawing, labeling, mixing colors, outlining, etc) it is definitely well worth the work.  As I was finishing up last week, four boys were sitting on a log observing the work.  One thought it was a map of Nicaragua.  A sixth grader said, “Wow!  There’s a lot of water in the world!”  The best was when a fourth grader started quizzing his friends… “Find Chile.  Find Sudáfrica.  Find las Islas Solomán…”  We know how important it is to know world geography but I think this gigantic world map is also a small spark of hope for these kids.  The majority of Nicaraguan children are only familiar with Nicaragua, Miami, Costa Rica, and Spain because there’s a good chance a relative is working in one of the latter 3.  This map shows the kids there is so much more to discover.  Different cultures.  An incredible variety of animals.  Other climates.  New foods.  More opportunities.  And these opportunities can only come about if they continue studying.  In fact, that very day I was working on the map I had a conversation with a 15-year-old fifth grader… such a nice boy.  He told me that he was in danger of failing and was inclined to drop out of school to work with his dad in the fields.  He decided to receive extra help from a teacher before school started so he could move on to sixth grade.  Half laughing, he said, “Yea, I should be in my fourth year in high school by now.”  I learned the other day that in Boaco, Nicaragua, roughly 50% of youth ages 15-19 and roughly 80% of youth ages 20-24 do not attend school.

My house has officially become a zoo.  There are no more mice.  The poison I put out took care of them and I was lucky enough for them to eat it then die in somewhere else.  The cat still hangs around the kitchen.  My neighbor killed the opossum that had been hanging out in my roof.  I guess I had complained about it enough so he took it upon himself to find the beast and bring a machete to its neck.  I heard a rustling as I was lying down in my bed in the afternoon and sure enough, a 1 ½- 2 foot iguana came skittering out from where my suitcases are to find a warm spot under the bed.  The solution is to now take down the “drop ceiling” so I’ll be left with just a zinc roof thus nowhere for the animals to walk around in the space between the drop ceiling and the zinc.  The risk of them falling into my actual house will is then nonexistent.  Thank God.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Feliz Año Nuevo!

I have quite a few resolutions in 2012, one of them being more consistent with my blogging.  I'd say at least once a month.  I can't believe the last post was in September.. yikes.  

Anyway, I'm sitting on a pretty comfortable couch right now because I'm house sitting for an American couple who live in my town.  This really couldn't come at a better time even though I just got back to Teustepe a few days ago.  It does feel great to be back (I was welcomed with very many open arms) but the animal situation in my house is becoming a problem.  The first day back I was awakened in the middle of the night because a little mouse crawled on top of my mosquito net and me which was really scary.  The second day back I couldn't fall asleep because I saw a huge opossum hanging out in my roof.  I threw down some venom so hopefully within the next few days I'll be flinging mice far into the backyard.

As for more upbeat news, the end of the school year went well.  The month of October was pretty brutal because of the endless rain but once November rolled around, I was able to cross all creeks and return to work in all schools.  We did some fun projects (model of the Solar System, string bracelets, puzzles out of cardboard and National Geographic pictures) and the sixth graders in their cap and gowns made me proud to be their teacher.  I attended my fair share of graduation masses and parties and am definitely looking forward to the upcoming year.  A few changes have been made in the Environmental Education sector.  Instead of working with six teachers, each one day a week, I will now be working with four teachers twice a week.  It will be a more rigorous schedule but much more productive in the classroom and school gardens.  As much as I loved the students and one of the teachers I worked with in the school I’m dropping, I’m looking forward to not making that 6-mile journey each Tuesday.  The straw that broke the camels back happened the day of the sixth graders’ graduation at this school.  It was 1:45 and the teacher and I had to catch the 2:00 bus back to Teustepe.  I asked how I could help clean up so was given a gigantic tub, half full of rice, to bring back to the woman who made it.  Little did I know, she lived on the other side of the creek so with bag, umbrella, and tub in hands, I carefully stepped across the 25 large, wet stones and arrived safely on the other side but not after a few scares of twisting my ankle and falling into the water.

This week I stopped at the librarian’s house with a friend (and fellow earring maker) to discuss what we will do with our earnings and to see her 2-month-old baby boy.  After buying 20 bottles of paint, pliers, and new paintbrushes, our group gained $260.  The girls were astounded and we are all thrilled to begin our work on the library.  As you know, the initial goal was to buy one bookshelf but it looks as if we will be able to do so much more.  Unfortunately the town does not feel it is necessary to put money into the library but this is where we come in!  We’ll be able to buy bookshelves, paint, and hopefully new chairs to make the library a more welcoming and comfortable place for the kids.  I also think I’ll be solicited to paint something large on the front of the library… we’ll see how this goes.  January 21 will be “sweep, mop, dust the library day” and we’re going to work from there.  Muchissimas gracias to everyone who supported our project!!

Like I said, I'm enjoying being back and am loving the weather.  Probably a sunny 85 during the day and low 70s at night.  It's perfect.  But, I had such a wonderful two-week vacation at home.  It was freezing cold a couple days but I know I'll be trying to turn back time to experience that weather come March.  Christmas and New Years were both fantastic.  Lots, probably too much, food was consumed.  A comfy couch and the need for a down blanket while watching Weeds and Californication were heaven.  I'm so lucky to have been able to spend time with family and friends, even making it up to Boston!  I love and miss you already  ......  now come to Nicaragua :)

Thursday, September 29, 2011

pictures :)

How could you not love this country?

      Battle of the Barrios - muy orgullosa
Shucking corn to make güirila
with friends on Sunday afternoon

My biggest fans

Fellow PC volunteer came to Teustepe so
we could plan a presentation we
needed to give to the new group
of trainees... lights went out...
candles and headlamp it is!

Host nephew and director's daughter dancing folklore on Independence Day
San Juan del Sur  :)