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.