Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Life in the Country!

Do you find yourself wishing you had more time to read or just take a walk, that you could get up whenever you want, that you could eat tortillas, cheese and beans for every meal, saddle up on a horse and ride off into the sunset, well, welcome to my world! : )

I arrived at my site last Friday after about 2 weeks of staying in nice hotels with a.c., hot showers where the water pours out of the shower head like warm honey, the most delicious and well-balanced meals you can think of with fruit galore. I purposely refused any offerings of beans and rice during this time because I knew that once I got to my site I definitely would not be lacking in these food groups! : )

So, more about my town. Like I said, it is a VERY small town in the rolling hills of Chontales. Each time I take the bus to the next nearest town I am just amazed at how beautiful it is and that I get to live in the midst of it for the next two years. So far, I have discovered two stores that sell things in my town, but only the basics...toilet paper, soap, gasiosa (pop), juice, etc. However, when I need to go grocery shopping for milk, cereal or other necessities it´s just a 45-minute bus ride to the nearest grocery store. Speaking of cereal, I think I freaked my new host mom out a little when I asked to have just oatmeal for breakfast...with NO beans and NO cheese. She tried to convince me that it´s simply not done that way here and that one needs to have those basic staple foods with each meal. After some convincing, I finally got her to let me just have the oatmeal. This morning I tried again, but she already had my breakfast prepared...tricky, tricky! I have been trying to get out each day and get to know at least one new family...for those of you who don´t know, one of my principle goals while I am here is to meet all 450 people that live here. I don´t think it´s that unreasonable. You may wonder, ¨Why only 1 family?¨ This is because when you meet someone for the first time, especially here, I usually spend at least 2 hours talking to them and during that time they offer me something to eat, usually ??, you guessed it, beans and cheese (cuajada). So, I´ve tried to plan to visit people when I haven´t eaten for a while because they take offense if you don´t at least eat some of what they offer you, no matter if you have just eaten lunch. Last night, I went to a vela with a family I have come to know. The vela kind of reminded me of a viewing at a funeral, except pre-death. The father of the owner of the one store (pulperia)in town is very sick and therefore, very close to death. Since they don´t have enough money to send him to the hospital, he sleeps in a bed in the middle of the living room. During the vela, people from the town come to visit him daily. It´s actually very sweet, although I felt a little ackward being that I didn´t know him. There were two little girls there that I had just met from the school, so they were teaching me Spanish and I taught them some words in English. It´s funny, but the time I felt the most comfortable was sitting there playing with them on the porch of their house.

Besides that, my life here has been pretty slow and tranquilo as I find myself often saying. I´ve gotten the chance to read a lot, I´ve also been getting into the Spanish soap opera that comes in on our only channel (the dos) at 8:00, after which I am usually tired enough to go to bed. I am looking forward to returning to my first host family´s house for Christmas. So far, I haven´t seen many signs of Christmas in my town, although I doubt many people will be putting up trees or lights considering their level of poverty. I know understand what the other volunteers mean about the days feeling so long, but the weeks flying by. I can´t believe that I have almost been here a week...and in Nicaragua just over 3 months!

As you can tell by the size of my town, I do not have regular access to internet, so I will try to update and check e-mail every couple of weeks. It shoudn´t be that difficult in the meantime considering I won´t be teaching until the beginning of February. Hope all of you had a wonderful Thanksgiving and are getting ready for the Christmas season. Today, since I am in the ¨big city¨I am going to treat myself to pizza and icecream for lunch! Hasta pronto!

Friday, November 17, 2006

Some More Pics

These are the other trainees that were in my town: Brenna, Meghan, me and Jackie. This pic is from our despedida party my family threw for me!

My sister, nephew, and I showing their support of Daniel with the Sandinista flag.

Had to include a pic of the delicious bread from our bakery! Mmmm...

Peace Corps Volunteer

Today I was sworn in as an official Peace Corps volunteer! We had a big ceremony with the ambassador and some other important people. Our families also came and of course there was food! We had it at this hotel called the Intercontinental that costs about $179 per night. Needless to say, that's not where we are staying while in Managua. It's really exciting finally being finished with training and about to embark on our new lives in our sites! I can't wait to get there and start meeting everyone, although, I do really miss my training host family. I've already made plans though to go back there for a few days for Christmas! : )

Tomorrow, we are off to a rainforest called Selva Negra. I am really excited that we get to go there so soon in our service...and...Peace Corps is paying for hotel and food (supposedly, everything is really expensive there being that it's a tourist attraction). Then, Monday we return for the AVC (All Volunteer Conference) where all of the volunteers that are currently in Nicaragua come together for about 3 days of activities. It sounds like a lot of fun and will be interesting to meet others that have been here for a while. Plus, we get to stay in this really nice hotel, the one we stayed in when we got here. Thursday, as you know, is Thanksgiving, which we will be spending at the ambassador's house who will be cooking us a typical dinner. I may have already mentioned this, but I'm pretty excited about turkey, mashed potatoes, and pumpkin pie!

This is my family: Julio, Lupe (7 months pregnant), my nephew Marlito, my dad Don Julio, mom, Dona Cristian, sister, Sacharis, and brother Marlon...and dog, Ducha.

Monday, November 06, 2006

Nicaragua poll points to Ortega

That was todays headline in the BBC. Yesterday, November 5th, were the big elections in Nicaragua. There were 5 candidates, yes the most ever in their history. Around 70% of the people of Nicaragua voted. Incredible right! I must admitt it was pretty exciting. The entire day people flocking to the schools to vote. In Nicaragua, there is a law called the dry law which states that it is prohibited to drink about 48 hours before the elections. It seems like a sensible law, although, of course people stock up for the celebrations afterwards. At 6 o´clock last night, they closed the poles and about 8 o´clock the people started flocking to the park to begin the celebrations. Finally after much anticipation, about 11, the results started coming in.

Because of potential danger, we were mandated by Peace Corps to stay close to home, so unfortunately, I didn´t get to witness the celebrations. That doesn´t go to say that I couldn´t hear them. At around 12 or so, when I was already in bed, I heard the band wagons coming around with their huge speakers broadcasting that Daniel Ortega of the FSLN had one, while playing his theme song in the background. My family being Sandinista needless to say were exstatic! So, from about 12 until 3 or 4 all that was heard was cheering, gun shots being fired, fireworks, and lots of music! It was a pretty exciting night, although a sleepless one. : ) Now, we will see what happens next. It´s definitely an exciting, yet slightly uneasy, time to be leaving in Nicaragua!