domingo, 22 de noviembre de 2009

My last two weeks of Training

The Monday of my last entry was a bit wild. I got home to a nearly empty house. The only ones home were my host grandparents in the back. As the two of them are nearly deaf they couldn’t hear me as I pounded on the door or yelled out for someone to open up. As the rain started to come down I decided that I couldn’t stand outside and get wet and finally just jumped in through the window. Retelling the story to my host mom she was yelling out and laughing at me saying I was a bandido.
The next day was filled with more charlas. We went to a biodynamic farm in a neighboring town that was started by Methodists. That farm was actually really cool; they had a large organic operation going on there with a variety of crops, trees, and livestock. I got two great presentations on starting a tree nursery and on lombriculture (that is worm composting). It was rather exciting.
Wednesday and Thursday were on the duller side as they were just normal days filled with Spanish class. It all culminated with my last language interview during training. The week was not improved, however, with the writing of my final youth group report (to be done in Spanish). Even with several of us writing it together, it was still painful. Two things that made the end of those days lighter though were the purchase of my hammock, in which I will be taking my daily siesta after teaching at my very rural schools, and the playing of Monopoly. Yes, you have no idea how good it can be to sit around play a board game with your friends, eat popcorn, and speak English. Well, maybe you do, but it still felt so relaxing, and for a little while I almost forgot I was even in Nicaragua.
Friday was fun as we had our youth group ceremony were all 37 trainees had a presentation of what they did with their youth group. And some of the youth even got to attend! It was fascinating seeing the TEFL (teaching English as a foreign language) group’s presentation as it’s quite different from ours. While we did gardens and made a recycled materials project with our groups, they taught them English songs. My youth group was terrific though. We were allowed to bring five kids to represent the group and they were great talking about our activities, I barely had to talk. And we also got a lot of compliments on the picture frames we made out of trash.
Saturday was yet another thrilling day exploring the beautiful country of Nicaragua. So a volunteer that’s living in my training town heard of some hot springs up in Mombacho, a nearby inactive volcano, so we thought we’d get directions and check it out. It seems the person who gave her the directions was a bit confused as they instead told her how to get to Las Aguas Agrias. We were also informed it was a 3km walk from the bus stop. No, no, not the case. We walked down this dirt road past several farms and rural communities for about two and a half hours (so about 10 miles) until we reached the entrance of the reserve, and from there it was three more kilometers! But in all earnestness, the walk was actually quite nice since it was still early in the day and not too hot, and the company was good. The entrance was C$5 (25¢) and the reserve was beautiful. It was jungle lite, very manageable, with a slow moving river. We followed the river along until we got where it collected in a big pool with crystal clear pristine water all in the shade with cool water that reached to about chest level. It was absolutely perfect, and the sound of howling monkeys in the background added just the perfect feeling of savage adventure.
Sunday I had planned a gringo free day, hanging out with my family and teaching my host mom to make lasagna. However, la queserilla ran out of the cheese we wanted so couldn’t make lasagna and everyone in the house was quite busy, and so I became bored. To cure my boredom I decided to go to the Hípica in the nearby town. This was my third hípica and by far the best one; an hípica, in case you’ve forgotten, is a type of horse parade that’s part of the celebration of las fiestas patronales. Had a good time hanging out with my friends watching the festivities.
Monday I had to go into Managua for a full day of AIDS charlas. I received four sessions on HIV/AIDS education and an introduction to some NGOs working on those issues here in Nicaragua. All of this is good as it gives me a bit more confidence in giving my own AIDS charlas; however it was a very long day that wore me out by the end.
Tuesday was my last day of Spanish class. ¡Ahora soy oficialmente un hablo hispano de nivel avanzado! This means I am not required to receive more Spanish training during my service, which could be a bit of a drag. The rest of class was dedicated to going over housing contracts and learning the Nicaraguan national anthem and the oath I need to say for swearing in.
Wednesday night was the despedida with my youth group. For the occasion we collected money and had a small little party. We made quesadillas, salsa, popcorn, and cake for the occasion. But before we got to the food we played some games; these included musical chairs and twister (which I fashioned myself out of paper, with dice in place of a spinner). They really enjoyed the games even though they were a bit shy at first as they can be when we make them play games (you should have seen them when we had them spell their name with their butts!). At the end we had a sort of awards ceremony where we passed out certificates to all the kids.
Thursday had to travel back to Managua for the last of the PST charlas. There were numerous, and required an overnight stay so that we could continue with them on Friday. Some of the sessions were a bit dull (such as my 7th medical charla), some where excruciating (such as having to sit through the program presentation for the third time), while some were quite interesting. The last one I speak of is the talk we got to have from the Ambassador. He is obviously a good source on the political and diplomatic situation here in Nicaragua. He was very open and gave us the realities, both good and bad, and it was great getting a better sense of what’s going on.
Friday after all the sessions were over I went along with half of my training group and went to the Laguna Apoya instead of my training town. We stayed at this hostel right on the water’s edge. It offered amazing views of the lagoon and the surrounding mountains (it’s a water filled crater). The water was incredible, the perfect temperature (neither cool nor warm, just perfect). At night without any lights we laid out on the dock and had a perfect view of the stars, unobstructed my light pollution or city sounds. It was the best possible way to celebrate the end of training.

lunes, 9 de noviembre de 2009

Been a While

So first I would like to apologize that it's been so long since I've last posted and that I have no photos this time. A lot has happened these past two weeks. Last weekend I went to Granada, which is really pretty. It's full of old buildings and kept up really well, its nice to walk around and wander around the city. That being said, it's quite a touristy place, very different from the Nicaragua I've gotten used to.
The most exciting thing that's gone on though is getting my site. This being the place where I will be living and working in for the next two years of my life. Site assignment is something that I've been pretty anxious about and working myself up to, and the event itself was rather anticlimactic. I am happy with my site though which is....(drum roll): a nice large pueblo in the department of Leon. My site is actually quite urban (by Nicaraguan standards) with a population of 35,000. The schools where I'm going to be teaching however are very rural. One of my schools requires me to take a bus out of town then its a 30-45 minute trek through horse pastures, corn fields, banana plantations, and a rickety bridge to get to a tiny multi-grade school that has 1 teacher and 11 kids.
So now that I've got my site and have seen it I have to say that I am done with training, or rather wish I was. I'm ready to start my service. To move to my town, get to know the community, and start working. I am excited.
Miss you all so much!