Friday, April 20, 2007

Viveros, viveros, viveros!

This week in the schools was spent making our tree nurseries and what a job it was! The kids worked really hard in all three schools, but now I understand possibly why the people here are not too found of planting. Digging the whole was the most difficult part in all three schools because the dirt here is so dry and well, just sucks for planting, that is in my region anyway. As you can see in the second to last picture, at this school the soil was pura piedras (pure rock). I was a little nervous at first being that honestly I have never planted anything in my life, but it was a great experience and a lot easier than I imagined. In the first two schools, we planted about 150 seeds and in the last rural school we only planted 25 because they only brought in a small amount of manure being that there are only 15 total in the entire country school.

Here the kids are mixing the manure with sand...

...and a little water.

The other half of the students are working on digging the hole (the second one that is...just behind the students is the first hole we dug which was apparently too close to the letrines because while digging we hit the tiles that had been burried that help in some way with the urine from the letrines???). Go girls, go!!

Here I am at the second school helping them to place the bags.

At the second school we had to enclose the vivero using stakes and a plant with thorns that grows nearby to protect it from animals such as gallinas and chanchos (chickens and pigs) that are commonly found running around freely.

This is the soil we had to dry to dig through at the third school. What a task!

Finally, we dug through the rock and here is the end product.

Just a little extra for you! Yesterday, I had a great trip to Managua, the capital. I had to go with a friend from Cuapa to help him with an application for a class he will be taking in the U.S. Instead of riding on a hot, crowded, bus blaring ranchera and regaeton, we rode in an air-conditioned car which takes almost an hour less. We pretty much hung out in the more fachenta parts of Mangua which is where a small population of Nicaraguans go in Managua who actually have dinero. We ended our trip with a visit to Price Smart. I think we have them in the U.S. as well, but it is basically the equivalent of Sams Club. It was a little weird being there at first because it reminded me so much of the U.S. but a nice little hop out of reality for a short moment. After a short bout of a lot of internal conflict, I finally broke down and bought a huge bag of crunch bars for 100 cordobas which here is an autrocious amount of money to spend on chocolate, but I figured that I had to have a reserve to last me until my dad comes to visit at the end of June at which time I can restock. And, it really is not that much money, $5.

Wednesday, April 04, 2007

Semana Santa

Hello again! Sorry it has been so long since I´ve written but as the time passes it just seems to get harder and harder to find the time to write! Anyway, we are just beginning to get back to work after a lovely week of vacation. Practically everyone in Nicaragua had the week off with the exception of the mayor´s office, banks, etc. I really ¨had that ¨don´t feel like going back to work¨feeling, but thanks to our new president the holiday was extended until tomorrow which means no work today either! Thank you Daniel!

I must admit, this has been one of my best weeks here. It started off with two birthday parties on Saturday. Here is a video clip of us singing Happy Spanish of course!

We started off at the birthday girl´s house in Cuapa, which was followed by a trip to a local farm where we continued the party at a friend´s ranch house. We had a beautiful view of all of Cuapa, including the Rock of Cuapa and had bar-b-qued lamb. We stayed there until late evening at which point we were invited to another birthday party that night which included kareokeing(spelling) to ranchero (Spanish country music)...interesting to say the least. : )

A view of the Cuapeñan landscape.

Sunday, I started off with mass at the local Catholic church. Lately, for some reason I´ve felt a little disconnected from the ¨big guy,¨ so it was nice to get my church fix after not having gone for a while. Following mass, it was off to the barrera (bull ring) which is quite an event in itself, very different from those in Spain; here, they don´t really hurt the bull at all. It mainly consists of men (only men) inside of the ring, some on horses, other just clinging to the fence waiting for the moment the bull passes for them to spring up to the top in order to avoid getting gauged by the bull´s horns. What makes for an especially interesting spectacle are the men who have started drinking since the morning and at 2:00 in the afternoon are trying to dodge the bulls. And you thought driving drunk was dangerous. One actually was so drunk he passed out inside the ring. Later that evening, I headed to the dance that follows with some locals from Cuapa. The next day we woke up around 9:30 in the morning, which is the latest I have EVER slept in here. I guess I was just so tired that I blocked out the roosters, cows and other farm animals that usually serve as my alarm clock at 5:00 a.m. Later that day, I attended a baptism of the nephew of a teacher I work with.

After a fun-filled weekend of fiesta-ing, I decided that for the rest of the time I was just going to relax and enjoy my small town festivities. During this time, like I said before, no one works especially in my town considering most of the people (men) work on the fincas (farms) therefore, they can take the whole week off no problem. Everyone is busy in the beginning of the week making typical foods, including horneadas (baked goods), almivar which is a mixture of honey/sugar and papaya, mangos, and another fruit called jocote, pinolio which is a drink made of cacao, water, and ground corn, of course rice and beans with an added treat of sardines. So, basically my week was spent just visiting people since when I am working I either don´t have time or don´t feel like it because I am so tired from walking around in the hot sun. For this reason, I have probably gained about 10 pounds because at each house they offer this yummy treats and it´s harder than you think to say no or that you are full.

This is a picture of two women in my town checking on their horneadas. They were up until about midnight baking!

Another part of my routine now includes daily trips to the mango trees to fill bucket upon bucket with sweet, juicy mangos. We only have a few more months until they start to go bad, so I have to take advantage. Here is a picture of one of the neighborhood kids who usually accompanys me on our trip eating a delicious mango.

I think that pretty much sums up my Easter vacation. I can´t believe we are already well into the month of April. At the end of the month we have our yearly IST (in-service training) in Selva Negra again. I am excited to return again and see everyone, mostly though because it was so chilly that I actually had to wear a sweatshirt while I was there and the food was AMAZING! Hope you all enjoyed your holiday as well! I must admit I definitely missed the chocolate bunnies!