domingo, 20 de diciembre de 2009

Tis the Season

Merry Christmas everyone! This week has been on the duller side and I haven´t done much beyond reading. However, I did start a small vegetable garden at a local elementary school. Nothing major, just a few tomatoe and pepper plants, and 3 pepians (a type of squash).
I have to say though, that I´m not exactly looking forward to Thursday or Friday. While it will be nice to have some active days full of festivities, it will also be super weird being away from all the people I love when they´ll be all gathered together. A few weeks ago I watched my host family put together a plastic tree with some plastic ornaments, and while thinking that its just not as good as a real douglas fir smellng of pine and decked with tinsel and shiny glass globes I suddenly became very nostalgic. Thanksgiving was a little sad not fulfilling all the traditions I have with all my friends and family, but I ended up having a good time with my new Peace Corps friends. But Christmas has always been my favorite holiday, because then I was with all my family and togehter we would sit outside and spend the day playing dominoes and having a few beers, enjoy a huge feast at night, and the next day there would be presents and more family bonding time. I think this is going to be one of the hardest parts about being a Peace Corps Volunteer, being away from my family that I love so much. But I will get along, and who knows, I might even have a spectacular time with my new host family.
I miss all of you so much, and wish you the merriest of Christmases and the cheerrist New Year. May you take pride and fulfilment with your families, because trust me its not always easy being apart from them, no matter how you spend your time.

lunes, 14 de diciembre de 2009

¿Quien Causa Tanta Alegria?

¡La Conception de Maria! Or so I´m told. Last Monday was the Catholic holiday La Purisima, a strange cross between caroling and trick or treating. The holiday celebrates the Virgin Mary´s immaculate conception and starts off with the setting off of fireworks at noon, which makes it sound as if a war is going off outside. Later in the evening starts la gritura. This when you go traveling from house to house where people have set up an altar to the Virgin and you begin to sing songs to her (there are several songs dedicated to her). I sang ¨Por Eso el Cristianismo¨ so many times I actually memorized it. The cool part of the whole thing though is that once you´re done singing people give you free stuff. Of course, like Halloween, you get a lot of candy, but that was actually the least of what I got. I also got a nacatamal, a chicken sandwhich, 3 cups (2 plastic, 1 glass), dry beans, 2 bags of sugar, a bucket, a basket, soap, detergent, a razor. By the end of the night I had a huge bag just full of stuff weighing me down.
After the holidays I had a visit from one of my fellow volunteers who came to try the quesillos, a dish my town is known for. Its a stretchy cheese, on a tortilla with crema and onions. Super tasty. It was nice having contact with someone a friend as lately I´ve been kind of bored. We walked around town and saw the sights including the oldest genizaro tree in Nicaragua (its this huge amazing tree thats centuries old) and the mirador that you can climb up and get a great view of the whole town and of the nearby volcanoe. The next day I also accompanied her to the city of Leon, which is a pretty cool place.

domingo, 6 de diciembre de 2009

First Week in my new Town

I´m not even sure where to start. Training is finally over, except for the two days after swearing in it didn´t really feel like that as I had to go to the All Volunteer Conference, which was cool in that I got to see all of Nicaragua´s Peace Corps Volunteers, but it made me feel as if I was still in training as I still had more charlas to go to!
Since I got into town last Friday, I´ve gone to four elementary school graduations (only one of them is at a school that I´ll actually be working at). They are quite interesting. Kids don´t get to walk on their own, but are actually guided by a family member, this goes for high school graduation too. I also went to my first TEPCE (a monthly teacher planning meeting) where I got to meet all of my counterparts. It was nice, and they´re pretty funny telling me all of these bawdy jokes and happily scraping any meat that was on my plate (they gave me so much food) onto their own after finding out I don´t eat any meat.
I also learned a very important lesson: When in Nicaragua make sure to shake out your bedsheets in case of scorpions. Oh yes, and the thing is that the sharp pain you receive from a sting is nothing compared to the rest of the symptoms. For example a tingling feeling in your extremities (lips, tongue, hands and feet) that´s kind of like your limbs falling asleep, except you feel it even when you don´t move that body part. Also there is the complete restlessness that swept over me, despite my body being exhausted and me having taken a benadryl (not so drowsy I would say). The worst I would say though is the loss of control of my motor skills, causing me to walk around like a drunk baby. Luckily the effects only last 24 hours. So no worries, I am all better now.