Monthly Archives: August 2015

Wish List

Several people have asked what things I need. Now that I am in my new site, I know what I would sincerely appreciate:

  • KIDS Ear Plugs – because it is loud as life here. It’s never quiet and I feel perpetually tired. It’s only quiet from like 2-4am.. 
  • Headphones, the techware here is just not that great.. 
  • Sweats (small) in any color. I live in the mountains. The nights can be as cold as it can get hot and would you believe I have yet to see sweat pants here! 
  • iPhone 4S charge cord. I found one in Managua and it short circuited in two days. Never have a felt so regretful for a purchase. 
  • Snackage! (Chocolate chip cookies are nonexistent here. So are lemon flavored things! Hershey bars. Skittles! Doritos! (Which are now two hours away instead of 20 mins 😢)
  • Palmers Cocoa butter lotion! It’s hard staying soft and chocolatey out here. The only store I know that sells it is three hours away one way. 




My Dear Readers

My dear readers, 
I have been a busy little bee. The truth is, I think to write often. Sadly, the time to do so and cooperation of the internet has not been in my favor. I have many events coming up, my boss visiting my site to evaluate my work, finishing my tutoring, judging an English singing competition, building an oven, going on a small vacation to volcano board, and more! Truthfully, I have been feeling a bit overwhelmed and stress is inevitable. But, taking necessary breaks as well as excusing myself for not always being present or perfect, has helped. I have a lot of work here, but I am happy to have the job of my dreams. Nonetheless, I told you I would try very hard to post daily, so I must apology. In that apology, I want to give you insight into a typical week of mine.
Monday:

  • Morning Yoga/Breakfast 
  • Tutoring 9:00 – 11:00 am
  • Rush home to eat lunch, rest for a moment before running to the bus stop,
  • Take the bus 12:45 pm (often much much later) (Approx. 1 hr travel)
  • Co-teach class 2:00 – 2:45 pm 
  • Catch bus to return 3:15 pm 
  • Co-plan with a different teacher 5:00pm
  • Dinner 6-7pm
  • Study for the GRE 7-8 pm
  • Use park Internet, check email, respond to my boss,  etc. 
  • Exhaustingly crawl into bed like a little old lady 10pm 

Tuesday:
Thankfully, I do not have class, but I do have work. So I usually sleep in. Depending on which Tuesday is, I travel to the nearest city, hr and a half away, to use the bank to get my paycheck, to pay for rent and grocery shop. That can take a few hours and traveling back, gets me home around 5 pm. 

  • Awake 7 am, go back to sleep
  • Breakfast 9 am
  • Tutor: 10-12 pm 
  • Lunch 
  • Research, write PC papers, write family, call my mother
  • Follow up to the 3 business in the community I am working with
  • Co plan with a different teacher 220pm
  • Teach an English Class 330pm
  • Work on PC projects, whether that’s painting a mural, recording Nicaraguan interviews, making my lessons plans, planning my business workshop information and analyzing the information for the businesses I am consulting.
  • Dinner 6/7pm
  • GRE Study 
  • Bed (thank you Jesus)

Wednesday:

  • Morning Yoga 7am
  • Coteach Jasmina 12:30 pm  - 2pm
  • Coteach Maria 2 – 245pm
  • Coplan  with a different teacher @4pm
  • Dinner (early enough to digest before class)
  • Teach my Yoga Class @7pm
  • GRE Study

Thursday:

  • I used to have a class this day but because it was an hour and a half away and very rural, I had to take a bus that dropped me off to my school 2 hours early. 
  • Bus at 945  but my class wasn’t until 12:!5
  • Then, there was no bus to return until 2 AND they were not in front of my school. I would have to walk thirty minutes to the next neighborhood where the nearest bus stop was. I asked several authority figures, who confirmed, it was not safe for me to walk that alone. The transportation all around was completely uncomfortable, so with my delegado (the person over all the schools in the district), teacher and police agreement, I canceled my contract with my teacher in this town. We agreed I would be available to talk with her at anytime and could co-plan with her to go over the material but I would not attend her class.
  • So now, I also use this day to work on secondary projects for Peace Corps, check on the businesses I consult with and again, research or work on things. Depends on the month. 
  • Dinner 6pm 
  • Book Club (ran by another Peace Corps Volunteer) 7pm 
  • GRE Study 
  • Thankfully, bed

Friday:

  • Morning Yoga 7am 
  • Breakfast 8am 
  • Work, study, etc.
  • Ride bike 10 miles, 16 Km to my farthest school, it takes a hour on a bike. 930 
  • Coteach 1030 
  • Bike home 1215
  • Lunch
  • LAY DOWN.. I am almost super shaky after riding my bike
  • Depending on how I am feeling, work, park/call my mom
  • Dinner
  • Bed

Saturdays and Sundays are not off days. I often work just as hard as I would during the week, but I try very hard to relax or do things that I thoroughly enjoy. Sometimes, I will hike for the day or watch TV with my host family. I enjoy reading and creating, always brings me joy. Truthfully, this is the hardest job that I love. I am gratified seeing one student get the material. A hope blooms in my heart when I get through an entire class without the students saying, “I don’t understand” meaning, I spoke my Spanish clearly. With the business competition coming up, the Peace Corps hosted competition where seniors of all schools start, and run a business then present their finances, packaging, market study, product or service, etc. for grading. It starts on a local level, then goes departmental and then national, within all of Nicaragua. It’s a great opportunity for the youth to win money to continue in their actual business or service. It’s a push in the right direction economically for Nicaragua and makes more entrepreneurs, in a country that has less jobs than youth wanting to work. It’s fulfilling but difficult work and only the Small Business Volunteers (like me), gets to do it! SO.. as you can see, I have a reason for my tardiness. I hope you will forgive me and the coming days will be filled with pictures and videos! Promise. A lot of great things have been planned! 

Cultural Lesson: How to Make Refresco

This is a cultural lesson. The part of the blog where Nae writes a cultural lesson. Refresco – a delightfully tasty drink made from real fruit. The current drink being made in this video is an orange. Yes there are green oranges (the green oranges in the States are chemically colored orange) and it doesn’t taste like Florida orange juice. It tastes quite sweet and .. it’s hard to explain, less acidic. Enjoy! 

Day 169

Today was super productive! I met the Mayor, I helped with a dentist charla (or class),  spoke to the Delgado about an appointment in the future, I helped me students practice for the English singing competition, and got another business to fill out the diagnostic tool. I am definitely tired but happy! I met the Mayor because in a small community like this, it’s important to know all the upper heads. She could be the deciding factor in if a project of mine is approved. She was excited to meet me and know that someone was working to teach business topics. It’s not like in the states where the Mayor is someone you see on the television. The mayor is someone you see almost every day, she’s available to talk to everyone. Megan, my fellow volunteer, partnered with Global Grins to get free toothbrushes. In collaboration with the local dentist, we talk several groups of elementary students the proper way to brush your teeth, what dental health reveals about the health of the body and facts about teeth, and then gave away free toothbrushes and cool calendars to track how often they do it! I had a good time. 

Day 164

There is something elusive, selfish, completely illogical and yet enticing about the approval and friendship of a child. This is Michell. We met a month ago. (I’ve only been here two months). Every time she sees me, she leaves her friends to sit and talk to me. She’s so kind and quite inquisitive. She is always telling me how beautiful I am and how much she loves my hair. She didn’t think I had the proper amount of enthusiasm and demanded to take a picture of the back of my head as evidence of the lovely colors and why it is so amazing. I just love her attitude. For this reason, I downloaded a burger stacking game for her a few days ago. She was ecstatic and as a result, I made some new friends.  Meet Liz, Mileydi (pronounced Mi-lady) and Olman. Michell is fiercely loyal and begged me not to tell her brother my name, for fear he would claim me as his friend. I told her she would always be my first friend and my friendship with others does not diminish ours. After that, she gladly accepted him into the fold and soon there was a crowd of little people playing the game on my phone while I supervised the turns and wrote a paper.  Michell showed her loyalty once more when group of slightly older boys came over to watch and hopefully, play.  She leaned over quite discreetly for an eleven year old and said, “do not let those boys play on your phone.  They are thieves.  Be careful.” Well that just solidified her as my little sister and I left shortly after that. I don’t know how to feel about sitting in a park with people I have met once or twice but only children have the confidence to speak to me.  Having the mind of Christ, I say, “Suffer the little children and let them come.”  I am always blessed in every encounter with them.  (P.S. Nicaraguans struggle to smile in pictures because they want to look like models in magazine, who look super serious.  So it’s difficult to convince them to smile or have them genuinely smile in pictures.)

Day 165

I unintentionally rode 16 K today, that’s 9.94 miles and if I had known that’s how far I was going, I would not have gone.  Thank God, I optimistically left in faith. One of my schools is seriously rural and has only one bus time out @6am and one bus time to return @330pm. Since I don’t plan to wait at my school six hours, as my class is at noon, I had two other options. Ride a moto taxi or a bike. When I tried to get s moto taxi last week they wanted to charge me more than how much I pay to go to Managua, which is three and a half hours away, not twenty minutes. Which is the devil. So I opted for bike today. I borrowed my family’s bike to try the ride out and see if I could do it. Travel out took me an hour. I stopped three times for water but made it through asthma, smoke in the air from nicas burning trash, gravel and steep hills. Took me 45 minutes, but I rode the whole thing out… Only to get to my school and be informed my teacher was not there she went to the doctor for some abscess on her hips and would return tonight. I knew I needed at least an hour to rest before returning to my bike extravaganza AND the teacher there begged me to help the students with the upcoming singing competition. Of course I said yes. Backstory: The end of August is the English festival and its kicked off by a regional singing competition where students of all grades sing songs in English. The teacher informed me id be receiving an invitation soon to be a judge for it. I. Am. Ecstatic! My class is singing, “We are the world”. The trip back was much easier, probably because I knew what to expect and what milestones I’d see. I made the trip with one stop, literally two blocks from my house and in 30 minutes. Looks like next months paycheck is going towards a bike and I can forget about gaining any fat, clearly I’ll be gaining muscle weight. 

5 Luxuries You Didn’t Know You Had

Living in Nicaragua has taught me many things, one being all the luxuries I didn’t know I had. Odds are you didn’t know you had them either .
1.       The Luxury of Privacy
I bet you never considered your personal space a luxury. Ride a bus in Nicaragua one time and you will see it is indeed a luxury not everyone has. They have to stuff as many people as possible onto the bus. It is their livelihood and the patrons, understanding the concept, willingly accept not being able to sit and standing so close you could taste their sweat. I am sure once in a while at a friend’s home you may have thought not to spend so much time in the bathroom, lest they thought you were going “number 2.” But what about in your own home? Not having the luxury of privacy means the entire house knows you have diarrhea because they can hear it through the non-padded wall. It also means you have to go to an in town hotel to conceive a child, because padded doors cost money. It also means you, your husband, and two children live in one big room with separate beds and curtains to separate your “rooms” because you can’t afford actual separate bedrooms. Privacy is a luxury.2.       The Luxury of Convenience
It’s 3 am, you used the bathroom only to realize, you are out of toilet paper. What do you do? If you wanted, you’d go to the 24 hour Walmart, or CVS down the road. Right? Wrong. That’s not an option here. If you are so lucky to live in a city, your access stops when they close their doors, usually around 7 or 8 pm. The convenience of phone service almost everywhere you go or internet in your house, the knowledge of knowing where to go to buy things are all luxuries not given here. Some days I have a craving for a specific type of bread, I could go to my usual Pulperia and that week they didn’t bake that type of bread. I wouldn’t know where else to look. Or the confidence that you could leave in your car, whenever you wanted. Here, you are a slave to bus schedules not written in stone. Waiting and adhering to sometimes, ridiculous taxi fares. Or not going out past a certain time because buses stop at night. How will you get home? Convenience is a luxury.

3.       The Luxury of Guarantees
In America, we know what we will get. We know we can return things we don’t like or enjoy. We embrace the notion if you work hard, you’ll get a job. We are guaranteed tons of avenues to get a job. There is a guarantee of Middle Class. Here, that is not so. You only hear of work by mouth. You cannot return food if you didn’t enjoy it, for free. You cannot believe hard work pays off, because everyone here works hard and everyone (or the majority of people they see) is poor. There is no middle class. You are either rich or poor. Guarantees are luxuries. You don’t even think about hot water, you merely turn it on. Here, there might not be running water in the morning. The electricity could go out all day. Power outages and water shortages are guaranteed, not the other way around.

4.       The Luxury of Ignorance/True Knowledge
what I mean by that is, here I was taught how to start a fire oven. Here, people make actual wood furniture. They know how to make clay ceramics and how to actually milk a cow. As an American, I know nothing about that. I have no idea the process or how hard it may or not be. (I am supposed to learn next week!) America puts almost all those things into a factory or automatic line process. To that same notion, in America, I could Google and find the answer to anything. Here, Nicaraguans, suggest as a Black woman I am not an American because they don’t see black people on TV or American shows. In a community where everyone knows everybody’s business and know for a fact it’s true because their mother, sister, or father confirmed it, it’s hard to validate what is actually true. I’m not sure which is the luxury; ignorance or true knowledge.

5.   The Luxury to Choose
Do you want the white beans and rice or the white beans and rice? Gallo pinto for breakfast or dinner, is about as grand a choice to make in Nicaragua. Anywhere else, you can have whatever you want. LITERALLY. Unless you live in a major city AND have money to blow that is not the case. Some rural families are unintentionally vegetarians, because they can’t afford meat. A varied range of vegetables is unheard of. Here, they eat by the seasons (what could actually be produced from the ground) and live by their means. Which means a small meal three times a day with no seconds. It means not giving your children a cell phone because they are going to school. It means having an engineering degree but working as a vendor in the Market, because nothing was available and your family needs the paycheck. The ability to choose what you want and when is a luxury.

Day 162

Let me just say I adore my tutor. I admit, when I first learned I’d have to have one I was disappointed in myself for testing lower I language than I should have. I also was mad I was losing hours in the morning two days out of the week when I could have been working. The Lord has chastised me in such thoughts. SHE. IS. A. GODSEND! I read my welcome packet with her and told her of the NGO’s I couldn’t find. We successfully went through the book, me translating the English to Spanish (win!!!!!!!!) and her   telling me which organizations were still in my site and which ones left. THEN the next day (today), my tutor lessons are Mondays and Tuesday, she took me to the offices of the organizations and let me introduce myself as well as offer to work with them. Even though she barely spoke, having her there helped my confidence. She knew most of the workers by name, and they gladly received my information and me. Yesterday, I went to Capri,  an non-profit organization, that for 26 years has been promoted with children, adolescents, families and leaders in the process of transforming its economic, political, cultural, social and ecological to improve their quality of life.They do work teaching business classes for youth and offering information on how to start your own business; which is right up my alley. Today I went to Centro de Los Amigos, an organization that teaches pre-school by morning and is a beautiful library by afternoon until 5 pm. It’s a space, open for study groups and room for anything from tutoring, game practice and more. Peace Corps had volunteers work with them in the past and they were very open to working with me. If I can only find some time.. Despite, that, their facility is beautiful and I am grateful (thanks to my tutor) for the warm welcome. 

That was only the beginning; she then walked me to the pool, so I’d know where to go when it opens. It only opens from Feb – April but because of the unusually hot climate, I could go to the pool now if I wanted. Then she walked me a little farther into town to meet her sister, who owns a huge garden of natural plants and herbs. Despite being paralyzed in one arm, she is a wonderful botanist, offered me her name to enter the pool for free AND had aloe vera plants when I asked her about them. she told me she’d give me some for free if I brought a container, because I have a lot of scars I want cleared up. LOOK AT GOD, because I just knew I wouldn’t be able to find any aloe vera cream here. After that, she showed me a river running through my city and we went back to her house. She has been a lovely teacher, a great -friend, and an even greater resource for my community. She helped me find businesses to work with, although that’s usually a project started in the next semester, because I explained my job and showed her my materials, she introduced me to businesses and told them how valuable and intelligent I am. She also knows where to go for things. I printed a book but couldn’t find a binder or a hole puncher, she told me two places in site that binds books. Having been a teacher in the past for many years she is also recognized and respected. People know her by name and proudly greet her in the streets when we walk together, “adios Profe!” “Buenas Profe!” I am honored to know this little woman. She is so hospitable and gives me bags of mammons from her tree in the backyard. I will truly be sad when September ends and I don’t have tutoring from her anymore. However, I look forward to working with her to start her own business.

Day 160

The rabbits are officially 2 weeks old and they’re so cute! They’re bouncing around and showing signs of personality. I wish I could buy one.. but I can barely feed myself. I woke up singing and feeling utter peace. Despite the ups and downs, I wouldn’t trade this experience for the world.