The first thing I´d like to do in this entry is to apologize to all my followers for the lack of any entries in over a month now, especially since my last entry was a bit depressing. December was a rough month for me here, between being bored and homesick during the holidays it was hard to get through. Happily, my first Christmas away from home wasn´t too bad. Christmas eve was spent with my host family just enjoying the day and culminating in a big dinner for which I made a tasty vegetable pot pie (you know you´re in Nicaragua when you have to use a ketchup bottle as a rolling pin!). Christmas day itself doesn´t seem to be a huge deal here as the streets were deserted. Since my host family headed out for the day, I decided to do the same and visited another volunteer in a nearby town. Her town was also deserted, but it was nice just hanging out and talking how Christmas wasn´t as bad as we thought it´d be.
The next thing that I have to do in this entry is give a great big thank you to my friends back home in Miami. I recieved your package yesterday, yes a full month later. But I have to say, it felt so good to get mail here. I felt opulent with my new treasure as I walked around the city with that box in my arms. Upon opening it, however, I was seized with emotion as I got to the singing card with all of your voices ringing out to me. Afterwards though, I have to see that I greedily tore through it reading each card thoroughly and finding my gifts. In the end, I have to say that I am glad that I got the package when I did, as rifling through it made me happy and only a little nostalgic, for I have to say if it came on Christmas I think it would have made me very homesick. So again special thanks to: Danielle, Daliz, Jeanette, Christina, Sandra, Silvia, Carolina, Melanie, Vivian, Flor, and Diego (in no particular order).
The point when things changed from a great deal of monotany to excitement can be pinpointed to New Years. Having stayed in my site for Christmas I was allowed to venture out for the celebration of the New Year. And venture out I did, going all the way to the beautiful San Juan del Sur, where they have great beaches, and some nice establishments. It was also good to spend it with some of my friends from training, a trully wonderful bunch of people. The traditions here for the New Year are a little different from the ones back home. There are still fire works, but most of them are shot off at an effigy of the Old Year as an old man. Also there was no countdown. It wasn´t until one amongst my group looked down at their watch and noted it was 12:01 did we yell and hug and celebrate on the sand surrounded by stars, it was the grand start to what I hope to be a great year in Nicaragua.
About a week and a half after that I was able to move into my own house, the first time I´ve ever lived entirely by myself. It was a great move. I love my new house, a little, unpainted house with a flushing toilet (a real luxury among Peace Corps volunteers), no windows, and a beautiful view of the nearby volcanoe. My new neighboorhood is great too, after two days everyone has gotten to know me, and now after two weeks I´ve learned the names of almost all the neighboorhood kids. So far most of my neighboors have asked me the same if I am afraid to live alone (I´m not, so don´t worry) and isn´t it boring not having a tv? I still keep in contact with my host family, as I haven´t moved very far from them, just a few blocks away. Also for those of you who were worried before I´ve kept a tally of my battle with the local arachnids, Scorpions: 1, Chris: 4! Although scorpions are not the only visitors to my house as I can´t keep the neighboors´dogs and chickens out of my yard, and last week I had to chase an iguana out of my bedroom. One kid told me that I should have let him catch it so that he could eat it.
The new school year here starts next week. In preparation for that I´ve been accompaning my counterparts to their respective schools for enrollment of the students these past two weeks. During that time I finally got to see my last school (I didn´t make it before because I got stung by the scorpion on the appointed date). It is definetly my farthest school at 10km (6.2 miles!) away. The only was to get there is by riding my bike down the dirt road and crossing the river. By which I don´t mean, going over a bridge, but rather, riding through an actual stream. When I asked what they do during the rainy season (as it is now the dry season here, and hott!!) my counterpart replied that they usually take off their shows, roll up their pants, and walk their bikes across. In effect I have to ford a river as if this was the Oregon trail!