Monthly Archives: March 2015

Day 23

Today was filled with many highs and an extreme low. I went shopping with my mom! Now I am sure, in your mind, you’re thinking a drive down the street to Wal-Mart. WRONG! Shopping involved a ten minute walk, fifteen minute wait, and twenty minute taxi ride to another city. We walked around to many stores, similar to outlets. We went to several clothing stores that were huge Goodwill’s but named different things. My stature and frame always leaves me quite frustrated with shopping and shopping in Nicaragua was no different. I came for a dress and it alluded me. Along the way, we stopped for my other mission: Operation Nica Phone. I brought my android with my from the States but it is entirely too smart for the spanish phone chip PC gave me. So I was forced to buy another phone. Now buying a phone, IN GENERAL, is stressful.. now add in a language barrier. In a haste to get out of the sun, my host sister and mom talked over me to the salesman. I know they were just being helpful but it left me feeling even more inadequate than speaking slow Spanlish did.  Then I wasn’t sure they were properly conveying everything I needed in a phone. I didn’t want any extra amenities and most importantly I wanted to make sure my phone could accept the chip PC gave me. I walked away with a phone and tears in my eyes from sheer frustration. It took so much effort to get this phone I didn’t want to fathom doing it all over again if I bought the wrong phone.  Still, I ventured on, reminding myself everything will be alright and trust in the Lord. With that in mind, I picked myself up. Then with our purchases in tow we went to Payless! It’s the exact same store except everything is in Spanish! Then we went grocery shopping. It was pretty cool except you bag your own things and they only have like 3 lines open. It was really crowded. They even have some of my favorite brand names! I was so excited when I saw Aunt Jemima pancake mix! It is definitely on my next grocery list.  Then we went to a huge flea market. It was a series of hodge podge wooden panels to make several attached rooms. It was like a maze. There I found the perfect gifts for my parents! (I know you’re reading this mom and you’re going to love it!) I ended the day smushed on a school bus back to my town and a bag of grape juice in my hand. (Literally, their juice packs are caprisuns without straws. You bite a hole into the side and just suck it out.) I came home six hours later tired but satisfied. Life in Nica is an adjustment, but I love it here. 

Here’s a brief walk through video of the flea market.

Know Thyself 

I read this on one of the best blogs and social media outlets I know: mediablackoutusa and thought it was worth sharing. (follow them):
7 Questions You Should Ask Yourself At The End Of Each Day!
Each day we have tons of inquiries — for our coworkers, our friends, our families. But do we ever ask ourselves any questions? If we don’t, we may be framing our own mindsets through someone else’s lens. Below are seven questions that will not only help you take a positive perspective on your day, but set up tomorrow for greater success.

  1. What did I learn today?
  2. How did I make others feel?
  3. What can I do better tomorrow? 
  4. What am I grateful for?
  5. How do I feel? 
  6. How much stress did I experience?
  7. What made me smile?

Why is this important? Too often we are excited to learn about others and willing to put in the work to establish strong connections, without giving ourselves the same justice. You are worth knowing. I would even go as far to say, you cannot truly know others without knowing self. Put in the work everyday, you’re worth it. Ask yourself these questions and decide if you like your answers. God bless!

Cultural Lessons – Biases

And now it’s time for Cultural Lessons with Nae, the part of the blog where Nae points out a cultural lesson…
Here (and I’m sure in other parts of the world) they say you’re not a “REAL” American if you are not white, have blond hair or blue eyes. One of the volunteers is staying with a host family that has had many volunteers live with her over a span of 10 years and is presumably not at all racist but said to her current volunteer, “SO… you’re a real American.” Might I add that this volunteer is typical height for a woman, has long blond hair, and blue eyes. The volunteer so appropriately and awesomely responded, “well if I was a real American, I would actually be a Native American” and then took the time to explain the story of America, immigration and the true meaning of a melting pot.
 It is important to acknowledge these learning moments and take every opportunity to help other cultures realize, we’re all different. I was confronted with this issue recently. I get looked at strangely when I say I am from America. They think I am just a “gringo” or a Nicaraguan from the coast. To them, I am not a “real American.” At first, I admit I was a bit miffed, but then I realized I have my own biases that were incorrectly taught. For instance, I cannot help seeing a pale, white person, with black or very dark hair when I think of a European, although I know for a fact black people live there. The same can be said for people who are completely unaware that most of South Africa is “white” people or the proper term “Africaans.” 
Even though we try to be culturally unbiased, the truth is we process and believe most of what we see and hear, regardless if it’s true. We just don’t know, what we don’t know until we’re confronted with an ulterior truth. I challenge you today to challenge what you believe about a people. I don’t drink Coke, my hair isn’t blond and I would look ridiculous with any eye color aside from the brown God gave me, and I’m as American as anybody else who lives there. 

Scary Beautiful Review

Hey yall… so I have decided to rereading my library. So there are books ranging from middle schooler level to high inappropriate adult level. No matter I think some of ya’ll might be surprised at the good books we read and forgot about as a child.

Niki Burnham has received so many of my coins. I remember reading one book (don’t remember what the title was) and being hooked! I definitely own at least ten of these books. They were so cute, so funny and most importantly appropriate.  Reviewing one now!

Chloe is a pretty girl living in a cruel world. Shes’s too pretty for her own good and it is leading her down  tough road in High School. But we all know how horrible them days was!Wouldn’t repeat High School even if they paid me. NOPE!

Fresh off a break up she comes to her junior year struggling to know who she is without Sean (her boo for four years) so even though shes smart, popular and pretty she finds herself stuck not wanting to be the center of attention. She doesn’t want to talk about the break even though she knows she’ll be the topic of gossip because of it. Surprisingly enough to her and her friends, it works for her.  This book was KA-UTE! It’s kinda short too so read it! 3/5 because I’m not going to read it again and it wasn’t so bomb that I would recommend to my friends now but it was very interesting! And obvi I reread it. SO CHECK IT OUT!

Day 20

It’s crazy how much I don’t miss about America. People think leaving America will make you appreciate America more but the truth is, it made me realize just how much I don’t like some things there. Don’t get me wrong, it’s beautiful in America; truly a land of the free. There are so many opportunities there and nothing can compare to the vast culture, food, and places we have… however the excessiveness, extreme materialism and selfishness is often something I disdained while I was there. I love that I can literally be judged on the quality of my work. They notice yours appearances but only in terms of appropriate or not. It’s like about the right attire, not the best or most expensive  attire. wealth is translated in diet or housing amenities not by how big your house is or what name brand you’re wearing. I do miss my family but I know I’ll see them before I know it so I’m not worried. I’m more concerned about what my visit home would do to my Spanish or contentedness here. I miss baking. Here they only have stove stops. Only certain places, like a bakery has a big place to bake. Shockingly, I do miss chipotle! Even though I eat rice everyday and it tastes great with vegetables similar to Chipotle, it’s not the same! I miss talking to my friends who don’t have an iphone. it’s not a big deal because I have social media but I do enjoy and miss convenience. I don’t it enough to think about it every day but once in a while, I do. Hot water!!1 I wouldn’t care if I had to take bucket showers every day if it was just a little warm! Lastky, I miss being abl to get food for myself. Although there are several restaurants and stores, I only eat at Peace corps approved places. It is my sincerest hope that i don’t help get sick while here. it’s possible! I know past volunteers that didn’t get sick at all. If I follow all the rules, I’m sure I’ll avoid malaria, dengue, acute diarrhea and any parasitic worms. Wish me well on that! 

Day 19

Today is my AKAversay so of course everything is happening beautifully.  I had my first co-teaching class today.  It was completely in Spanish and I am the very first to go out of all the volunteers in my town so I got to get all the kinks out.  I taught for 45 minutes.  I was a little nervous because I wasn’t sure I would correctly say everything I needed to in Spanish.  I had a notebook full of the entire script I would say just in case! My students lovingly call me, “Nae.”  It made me feel more like myself and comfortable in a new environment.  I taught them three types of business.  They also had to fill out a table of the different types of businesses.  It was a little nerve wracking because I forgot some of my materials but all in all it worked out and the kids were excited to say, “See you later at the youth group Nae!”  I am killing this teaching stuff.  #proudofmyself 

PCV Jay Armenta

As I said before, you just never know the type of people you’ll meet. In talking to all my fellow volunteers, I have heard interesting stories. Some things are completely unbelievable. Sometimes, people are just not at all what they seem. Such is the case for Jay Armenta. He is incredibly sweet, funny and protective of his friends. I feel lucky to have such a title. Get into it peeps…

Volunteer Profile:
Jay Armenta
25
Whittier College (Southern California) BS
Kinesiology
University of Hawaii, Masters in Public Health 

PC: Health Sector 
Fun fact: There are three generations living in my house back home. I love my family. 

 What made you join the Peace Corps?
I once heard this quote, it goes something like this “The only life worth living is that which is lived in service to others” and I wanted to live. That’s why I joined. 

What do you hope to get out of this service?
A new home and I want to be able to rap in Spanish

How long have you been rapping?
Since 2007, I go by the name Rayne Rose

What do your parents think about it?
They are really supportive.

How did you get into it?
I got into rap through poetry. I was inspired by this group called Climbing Poetry. 

What do you hope comes from it?
I want to be a Performance Activist and spread my message through music. I have a message of serving others and being kind. 

Where do you see yourself in five years?
On a stage, performing for people who care. 

What’s something you’re stereotyped for that you think isn’t true?
For some reason, people think I’m not smart, but I am very intelligent. 

Would you recommend Peace Corps for others?
Most definitely. I want others to live. 

What does the world need more of and why?
The world needs more love and light because that is the fuel for the souls of the universe. I am here to illuminate the darkness. 

You can find Jay’s music here and here. Check it out and tell him what you think. It has been a pleasure to get to know him and live (serve) beside him. Who knows what else I will learn about him in two years.

Day 17

The good news is I got a letter and it only takes one week for it to get to me! The bad news is I only got one. I’m not disappointed because in reality people can email me just fine. I have daily access and I pretty much put all my updates online.. still i want mail. It’s a little ridiculous, I know. Aside from craving nacho cheese Doritos and really wanting to text all my friends, not just the ones with imessage, I’m great over here. I went to another church this Sunday, by myself. Although Catholicism is a form of Christianity, it isn’t a form I am comfortable with. When I told my host mom I wasn’t going, she looked quite incredulous until I explained I was definitely still going to church, just not hers. Little quick story of my life, I have no idea what denominations mean. Words like evangelical, presbyterian, baptist are just that, words. The four major churches in my life were nondenom, meaning they didn’t prescribe to a specific way in serving the Lord. The churches were more unique and tailored to how I want to serve the Lord. Now this is no shade to anyone who likes it but I do not like shouting, screaming, dancing in the aisles, organ playing while the Pastor is talking, hemming and hawing in between his words or people passing out. That is not to say people who do those things aren’t genuine BUT when it happens every Sunday AND distracts from the Word, I cannot and will not deal. There’s really no way to run me out of a church quicker than yelling, praying in a way I can’t understand or centering your entire message around money. Here, the catholic church had ceremonies that only some people participated in. I’m not sure why everyone didn’t take communion or take it altogether. I didn’t understand the constant standing, sitting, random moments of singing or kneeling on the pews to pray. This may be normal, but I’ve never been to a Catholic church so it was confusing and unsettling to me. I chose a church called, “The Eden” to go to. From the moment I walked in, I felt at peace. 
For those who have never gone church shopping it’s really nerve racking and can be quite frustrating. It’s similar to house hunting, you know what you want, you just gotta find it! i came in to their Sunday school. They were separated by age groups and discussing specific subjects. They welcomed me and what I liked most was NOBODY STARED AT ME! This may seem like a trivial thing but it’s so tiring, I am not a circus act! When people constantly stare as I’m just walking or sitting, it makes me feel like I should break out in song or something…. like they’re waiting for me to do something AND I’M NOT SURE WHAT! Although I didn’t understand all the words, I understand more than I did at the Catholic church! After we prayed at the end, everyone shook my hand and welcomed me to stay for the service and return again. The church felt similar to home. The altar was even familiar! I felt blessed to have a good church home away from home. I hope I am as blessed when my 3 months are up and I move somewhere else. Their real service starts at 11, I presume would end around 1, just like my church in the States! I didn’t stay because my mom wanted me to see the parade at 11 (although with Nica time it didn’t start until 1!). They were very understanding. I’ll definitely be returning! 

Day 16

Today is the big celebration for Semana Santa. Life is a big party in Nicaragua but this one seems bigger than the others. They prepared the entire week for it. Fireworks having been going off during the day. A banner was raised and a band has been playing daily around the park. They had a bike show the other day. 

I think there is supposed to be a parade. My family for once slept in and although I was woken up early, it was quiet enough for me to simply lay in bed. I read on my kindle app and in the safety of my room, it felt like I was home. I showered and ate breakfast and tried to clean my room. My mom wouldn’t let me. She swept and took my sheets to wash them. She showed me how to wash my clothes so later I am going to wash my undergarments all by myself and hang them on the line. My mom won’t let me wash my regular clothes. WIsh me luck as it’s literally a washboard and I heard those things can wear you out. I feel bad sitting here working on Peace Corps stuff while a flurry of cleaning happens around me. I asked could I help but my mom won’t let me. There is always a pile of dirt, even though they sweep everyday. 

Day 15

Funny Story:
On the way back home from work, I witnessed a guy talking game to a girl. They both are in High School. He was riding a bike, with a guy on the handlebars and she was walking the opposite direction with her friend. The hilarious part is the words he used, although they were in Spanish, it was the exact same thing a guy in America would say! He stopped, offered her some candy and told her she was pretty. She giggled and took the candy. He asked for her name. She gave it to him, then he asked her for her number and she put it in his phone. I was thoroughly amused. Literally, nothing new in this world. Nothing changes but the area codes.

There is a warm fuzzy feeling one gets when they realize they are being accepted into the community. Shortly after the above incident, a child called my name and when I looked they waved. It was completely genuine. Just to be called by name was confirmation that I am in the right place, doing the right thing and getting more people to call family.