Monthly Archives: October 2015

Featured Interview

Hey guys! I have a featured interview on TravelBloggers Blog! I had a great time! Below is a preview and to read the whole thing click here!

 

Have you had any bad experiences whilst travelling?

Yes. During my first three months of training, I was assaulted. I went through the proper security procedures and thankfully I wasn’t hurt. Although it was a bad experience, it didn’t tarnish my view of Nicaragua. It just made me more cautious of men here.

Do you have any funny travel stories?

Sure. It’s mostly stories of me integrating. My host mom laughed so much at my blunders. There was a time when I screamed and thought I said “cockroach, kill it!” But I actually said, “SPOON! Kill it.” My host mom not only cried laughing but she casually swiped the cockroach off the table, like it was no big deal. There’s also this story, I will never live down. The first week here, I was describing a woman and I said “she has a lot of butter on her face” instead of makeup! The difference in mantequilla and maquillaje.

Can you imagine life without travel?

Absolutely, positively, equivocally, NO. I have never been more in tune with myself and been more selfless. Traveling is opening my eyes to other sights and I never want to stop changing my world’s perspective.

Hogwarts School of Wizardry Meet Peace Corps

If you are a Harry Potter nerd as I am, this post is for you.  If not, exit stage right or do yourself a favor and educate yourself.

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The Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry  is divided into four houses, each bearing the last name of its founder: Godric Gryffindor Helga HufflepuffRowena Ravenclaw and Salazar Slytherin. Houses at Hogwarts are the living and learning communities for its students. The four houses are separate entities.  Each has its own common room and dormitory, its own table in the Great Hall, and students mostly share lessons with classmates of their same house.  There is no rule against students from different houses mingling, but in practice, a good majority of social interactions occurs within the same house.  Much like how Peace Corps Volunteers are when they are accepted.  We have four sectors, Small Business Development, Health, TEFL, and Environment.  There is a training round done approximately once every six months, where Health and Business train together and come in at the beginning of the year and graduating around June.  TEFL and Environment trainees come in around August and graduate in November.  Once through training, each sector splits off and essentially only work with its sector for things like In-Service Training.  However, social interactions intermingling sectors occur all the time volunteer to volunteer.

635741443846548084533246428_il_570xN.366252169_lqm4Despite its negative connotation, Slytherin is not a bad house. Although their members have a propensity to join the dark side, Slytherin house values ambition, cunning, and resourcefulness.  As a business volunteer, we often are the most ambitious. It is a well-known fact our program is the most work intense.  We teach 11th and 12 th grade entrepreneurship classes as well as consult with community businesses.  That means we have to look for resources all over the place.  Every business and its owner are different, with different needs.  We can be a little cunning as well, from convincing our students into making a business product and competing in a regional then national competition to working with the delegate to make all our coworkers co-plan.

img-thingRavenclaw values intelligence, knowledge, and wit.  This just reeks of a TEFL volunteer.  Often they know a little about everything.  Their entire mission is to teach English, which leaves a lot of room for others things. They are teachers at heart and most innovative in how they share their wealth of knowledge.  It’s what they do, plus they are the quirkiest of the volunteers.  From their style, personality and witty humor, they are the brains of the bunch. They help students get scholarships to go to college and work with whoever wants to learn English. They also work in the schools and host English singing competitions. Karaoke to improve your English speaking skills, really, I can’t think of anything better.

shield_hufHufflepuff values hard work, dedication, patience, loyalty, and fair play rather than a particular aptitude in its members. By far, Health volunteers have more patience than I could ever display.  There are the only sector not partnered with the board of education and don’t automatically work in the schools.  Therefore, it’s up to them to put in the hard work to meet with community members and show their selves worthy of teaching a few health workshops in school. They usually are partnered with the health department to work in houses for pregnant women or the hospital, but that’s not always guaranteed. Some sites are too underdeveloped to have one.  In addition, they teach Sex-ED, which is mostly stigmatized in third world countries.  No one wants to talk about how little they know about sex, and are afraid to appear like they want to know more about sex even though the majority of them are having sex!  You will know a health volunteer when you see them; they have dildos in their rooms and condoms in their bags like permanent accessories. 

shield_01-5B1-5DGryffindor values bravery, daring, nerve, and chivalry. Environment volunteers go where no man has gone before.  They live in the most rural, often the poorest parts of the country, because that’s who tends to own the farms and has land.  They are usually very kind and humble, not wanting to take credit for all the problems they solve. They also work in schools, but only in primary schools, showing the importance of recycling and ways to nurture the earth, which is an uphill battle anywhere outside of the United States. They know all the DIY tips and because of all they’ve seen near their homes and on the farm, their scary, uncomfortable, or nasty tolerance is super high.

 

I, like Harry Potter, wonder if I should have been placed in a different house. I am a Slytherin and do adore my work as a Business Volunteer. Lately, however, I have been thinking of project ideas that scream environment. I can’t change sectors, but thankfully I am in the Peace Corps and can do inter-sector work. Which house are you in?

 

Only 7 Types of People Join the Peace Corps

I’ve met a lot of volunteers. Inevitably, somehow this one question always comes up.

“Why did you join the Peace Corps?”

It’s the question we’ve been asked since the moment we decided we wanted to join. It’s the speech almost committed to memory.  It’s the spiel we gave our parents, our friends, our guidance counselor and wrote on our application to join. But the bottom line is, only 6 types of people really join the Peace Corps. Continue reading Only 7 Types of People Join the Peace Corps

Buenas Noches Luna – the PC Nica Adaption


In Nicaragua, 
There is a group of volunteers
And a Spanish Dictionary
image488And a statue of –
Sandino in his great cowboy hat
And there were dance festivals and catholic parades
And a pair of socks hanging on a line to dry
And a chisme group of women trying to pry
And deodorant 
And a package my family sent
And a young girl wanting to play with me
And a host mom calling dinner is ready
Buenas noches Nicaragua
17bBuenas noches volunteers
Buenas noches statue of Sandino that’s been standing for years
Buenas noches dance festivals and parades18171339e64663d05cc0da93c388690a
Buenas noches clothes to dry
Buenas noches women trying to pry
Buenas noches deodorant
Buenas noches package sent
Buenas noches girl wanting to play
Buenas noches day
And Buenas noches to my host mom calling that dinner is ready
Buenas noches Spanish hiccups and words I still can’t say
Buenas noches Mom and Dad, I know are very proud I am here 
Buenas noches noises everywhere 

 

The Sounds

The sounds, the sounds

The soundtrack of life

Close your eyes

 

Hear the sounds?

Things you never noticed and missed

While you’re too busy, living and you might…

Be missing the sounds…

Of your own soundtrack

 

I hear,

Door slams at 5 am

The waking, the rising of people

I hear the sounds of the sun calling me

The children rushing off to class

And bands practicing for upcoming parades

I hear barachos sleeping, too early for them to make a fuss

I hear little women sweeping,

On streets owned by us

I hear a community sharing,

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Avocate!  Tomate, tomate!  And fresco!

Frijoles bubbling, in prep for almuerzo

Fire crackling in the fuegon

 

 

I hear trucks rumbling, motos careening dangerously fast down the street

Cabellos tap dancing past my window, motorcycles puff smoke and niños screaming, “tauni!”

I hear conversations, so many, taking place at once

Teens giggling, TVs blaring, and commercial jingles I can’t forget

There is the sound of rain

Rain on my tin roof

Or is it the sun?

Causing a chemical reaction to the zinc

Popping noises just like the rain,

Background music to my day

Sloshing of hand washing clothes,

Waterfall sprays of bucket showers

Tools clanging on metal,

By the mechanic next door

Trash burning in a gorge in the road

Birds singing

Mosquitoes buzzing

The wind in my palm trees

Hollow thuds of construction that’s always happening

Taxi horns whirling

Peopling calling “Adios” in the streets

I hear the soulful plea, “buenas” in doorways

And me, getting ready to teach

 

I hear piropos,

I hear their humor in my shame

I hear the sun denying shade

I hear roosters crowing, though it’s neither dawn nor dusk

I hear horses neighing, pigs snorting

Dogs barking at anything passing by,

Students writing every single word I say,

Scared to miss just one

I hear greetings and wave when a student says, “adios profe!”

I hear squeaking park swings, youth having PDA

I hear affection, away from adults that accept no other way

Eskimo bells and juice sloshing in plastic bags

Balls pinging off the concrete basketball court

The hard clicks when I text on my chiclero2015-04-17 19.45.08

Bikes tires soft thuds against the strange tiled street

Buses exasperated piston sighs when they come to a stop

And it’s “I think I can” momentum creaking up mountains with heaving loads

Heel clicks and flip flops on the payment

The joyful cacophony as school ends

Procession of energy, uniform colors blending in

Slaps of backpacks and “See you!” lift their sound to my ears

 

Thuds of my bags on the floor,

The sigh of ecstasy when I lay in my hammock

The swaying as my nap takes me, or is that noise just in my head?

The sizzle of food in too much grease

the call sounding throughout my house, “Nae! Va a cenar?”

And my ever resounding response each day, “SI!”

Chairs dragging on the floor, the small sound of give in the hand-sewn bottom of my chair

The TV news, the group of men discussing fútbol at my door2015-09-29 15.44.03

The questions of Ingles, as I check my host brother’s homework

The crinkle of papelografos as I try to make them neat

The cow like sound of my fan, as I can’t take the heat

The ping of my hornita for a late night treat

The music blares in English as my host sister sits right in front of the TV

The dusk of the moon whispering, “buenas noches” to me

 

I hear small shifting of bugs and maybe mice in the night

And the soft protection of my mosquitera’s plight

I hear bar laughter, carried on the wind

I hear karaoke and songs in broken English

I hear announcement trucks

I hear mothers calling for children and cooing infants

Keys jingling to lock doors

Metal doors whining, no WD50

I hear my clothes on the line, waving in the breeze

Book pages rustling

Yoga mats soft collapse on the floor

I hear my final saludos as I close and bar my door

I hear my sheets rubbing, making way for me

I hear early sleep calling,

I hear Nicaraguan routine

 

I hear the sounds of life

Do you hear them?

 

Can you only hear mine?

 

Close your eyes.

Accept your truth.

Disconnect from your phone

There’s a soundtrack of life, you’re missing….

A soundtrack of your own

 

Word Glossary:

Barachos – drunk men

Avocate – avocado

Tomate – Tomato

Fresco – soda, or refreshing drink, usually made of fruits

Almuerzo – lunch

Fuegon – a big stove top outside, made of cement and heated with wood started fire

Motos – moto-taxis, smaller and less expensive taxis, made similar to a dirtbike instead of a car taxi

Cabellos – horses

Niños – children

Tauni – cool

“Buenas” – the audio version of a doorbell

Piropos – cat calls

Profe – Professor/ teacher

Chiclero – small, basic, Nicaraguan phone

Adios – goodbye

Va a cenar – Are you going to eat dinner?

Fútbol – soccer

Papelografos – white posters used in teacher classes

Hornita – small oven/ toaster oven

Buenas noches – goodnight

Mosquitera – mosquito net

Saludos – expressions of goodbye

 

I’m Not Angry, My Face Is

I am a sufferer of RBF, or Resting B*&ch Face. 2015-10-11 09.53.50 Urban Dictionary defines it as, a person,
usually a girl, who naturally looks mean when her face is expressionless or relaxed, without meaning to.

 

Anyone who knows me, knows, I laugh at  literally the smallest things. They also know, so I’ve been told, that I have an amazing smile. (Shoutout to pops on the braces ones and twos.) Yet, as a result of not smiling like a psychotic clown all day, people tend to think I’m scary. Imagine that. 

Here lies 5 sad truths of a person suffering from RBF.

1. People think you’re mad. All the time.

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By-products of this are, people are afraid to approach you. People think you’re impolite even when you say, “please” or “thank you.” When you actually are angry or sad, people don’t care and think it’s nothing new. People assume you hate the world and are always having a bad day. No one believes you when you say, “I’m not mad.” When arguing a point, people often think it’s important to say, “calm down” or “don’t be mad.” I can tell you living in a VERY social culture, my scowl was a bit intimidating. But, having integrated, and constantly running into my little friends ( I am basically the Pipe Piper of Niños), I pretty much smile once every five to ten minutes.

2. You will end up apologizing, many times in your life… foryourface.

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By-products of this are being told to smile more often. Or as my momma would say, “fix your face.” My face is in no way a correct representative of what’s actually going on under my cranium and yet, I have to apologize for your assumption of it. This does actually occur. My teachers often ask me, “what’s wrong?” and, my favorite, “are you sick?” Nope, I’m not. This is just my face.

3. People think you’re judging them.

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Nope, I’m just listening. This is my listening face. I have yet to formulate any opinions. Also, as a result of this, people do not know when you’re joking, being sarcastic or serious. I have so often said, “I am not funny. I tell the truth and for some reason, people think I’m joking.” Thankfully, this doesn’t happen often because my minimal level of Spanish, often renders me speechless. I am often observing, everything here is so different and my face of neutrality is apparently normal for foreigners. 

4.  You have to channel your inner cheerleader if you really want to make a good impression.

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Do you know how hard it is to smile all DAY!? It’s hard. Your cheeks will start twitching. It’s also super exhausting to be someone you’re not. I have to practice my “thinker” face to make sure when I am merely listening I appear engaged and giving considerable thought to what you are saying. Even though I WAS ALREADY DOING THAT. My face won’t cooperate and you will get mad. I am so tired when I get home! I literally, lay in my room emotionless because my face has been stressed to the limit of actively working my brain to understand Spanish, convey the proper response in Spanish AND on my face. #aintnobodygottimefodat

5. You think I’m a female dog angry black woman… by default.

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It’s sad but true that women are held to higher standards than men. Men who scowl are perceived as mysterious, sexy, but even in jest, women are called names for the exact same thing. It’s seen as something that should be changed, not accepted. It demeans women as objects. They should always be pleasant to look at it. But the expectation is doubled, if not tripled being black. I am automatically categorized as an angry black woman, because RBF notions tend to feed into racial biases

‘And that perception can have profound—and often deadly—effects. According to a report about implicit bias research from the Kirwan Institute at the Ohio State University, a 2003 study found that whites with relatively high levels of implicit bias perceived black people to be more threatening than white people. What was the basis for such a perceived threat? The facial expressions of black people.

White faces with similar expressions weren’t attached to the same negative value judgments otherwise projected onto black people. As a result, the study highlighted, black people were incorrectly understood as angry, which created a rift in the formation of any kind of familial, working relationship—because black people get implicitly labeled as defiant or untrustworthy. ‘

I’m not being a witch. I’m not being bossy. I’m simply giving instructions and my face happens to be attached to the place where words come out. It’s hard to be authoritative at this height (5 foot nothing) while smiling. People barely take the fairy nymph serious so I can’t afford to show you teeth and lead. It’s a juicy contradiction. Here, because stare at me, just waiting for me to do something different. 9 times out of 10, they don’t understand me soooooo I’ve yet to be called bossy. They treat me as an exotic pet. I can practically hear them mentally thinking as I would at the animal behind the glass, “Do something!” 

Listen. My face, is my face. It’s kinda hard to change. As a matter of fact, in about 20 years, I’ll still be looking the exact same way, because smiling gives you wrinkles. Although, at any given time my face may convey annoyance, boredom, apathy or anger, chances are I am none of those things. I implore you to speak to the next person you see casually scowling. Engage them with a smile, smiles re contagious. I am not the first to acknowledge this is a major problem for women, but I am the first to acknowledge it for my viewpoint. RBF isn’t a choice, it’s my way of life. Embrace it. 

A Cockroach Rant

This is a rant about cockroaches… You’ve been warned.

Note: this post is entirely satirical and meant to induce humor.
 –
So I live in Nicaragua. That basically means I live in the open. I am, essentially, in a tent with a tin roof, which is cool, ‘cuz I got a roof over my head BBBBUUUTTTTT occasionally I have run ins with different species of insecti that I tend to avoid in the states. One such animal is the cockroach. Let me say right now, I am not a bourgeoisie girl. I admit, I can be a little high maintenance but almost living in a jungle will humble anybody real quick! So I can tolerate plenty. But what I won’t tolerate, are these foul creatures called cockroaches or cucarachas.
What an awful bug and who knew there were so fast.
I thought cockroaches were supposed to scatter in the dark. How dare you casually peruse on your way, like I’m not here. The nerve of you to scatter in my direction! I will not stand for such intimidation. Why are you here anyway!? How did you get here? Nobody’s supposed to be here. Especially not you! We had the house fumigated this month. I know God is without flaw and all but if there ever was a moment to lift a brow to the Fatha, this would be it. When I get to Heaven, after I get my angel wings and link up with my people, I’m going to lean back with my glass of iced tea (Lipton, ‘cuz that’s the only way)
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and say, “so God, I was wondering. What made you create the cockroach?” I mean what is your actual function here? Lizards I get, they eat the mosquitos. Mosquitos I get, they do something useful, I’m sure. But you! YOU DO NOTHING! Except exist as the bane of lower social class and defy nuclear bombs. Got me feeling dirty in my own house when I know it’s clean. Who knew there were cockroaches as big as my foot. Some kind of kingpin he was ‘cuz he had a huge silver circle thing on his back and was walking like he was the man when he came through. I liked to faint at the sight. A child screamed. You know you’re a new low when a Nicaraguan ain’t trying to see you. I didn’t even know there were levels of disgusting, but you have outdone my imagination with your hierarchy of colors, size and overall disrespect of my space. So help me God, you and all your brothers gon’ die. Every. Last. One. Of. Ya. I got a bottle of Raid and I am not afraid to use it. I’m out here raising it like the staff Moses. You will give us free this day. All my life I had to fight! I had to fight this heat, this Nica diet, this language barrier, I won’t let you take me out. Nope. I am more than a conqueror and word is bond me and every cockroach I see got beef. Go ‘head and pour one for the homie that died last night… he won’t be the last to die either.
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One Year Blogiversary

Hey there LoveBugs,

Today marks the faithful day I started my blog journey. Yup! Today is my blogiversary.

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Congrats are indeed, in order. On October 10th, as a result of the encouragement of my friends, faith of my parents and God-given talents, I start writing in a public forum. I have been writing since I could hold a pencil. At five years old, I distinctively remember telling my Mom I would publish a book one day. To date, I have self-published two books (click the hyperlink to check me out on Amazon) of poetry and am looking for a publisher for my upcoming Sci-Fi Romance trilogy.

I rarely every brag or talk about myself, BUT today, I’m going to give myself a pat on the back. It’s hard work  starting, doing, accomplishing your own thing. Since starting my blog, jwerd.com, I self-published, I experienced the loss of my grandmother, I ended a 3-year relationship, I have graduated with a BA in Entrepreneurship. I joined the Peace Corps and am serving in Nicaragua. I moved my website to a different hosting site. (Which believe me, made me lose several nights of sleep.)  I taught myself page analytics and other laborious abilities that have paid off to over 3,000 page views!

I would be nothing without you, dear readers. You are my heart. I am overjoyed my blog is read in over 83 countries worldwide. It does my heart good to know you value what I have to say. Keep sharing my works, keep liking, keep emailing/messaging me encouraging words. You guys are truly irreplaceable.

Now do me a big favor and hit that subscription button honey, this is only just the beginning of my writing dynasty.

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Tomorrow Doesn’t Exist

Where is tomorrow? Nowhere, it is the ever present ghost, a shadow of untapped potential. What would happen if you were 100% present?

Today. Right Now.

Too often we get caught up in planning, thinking two steps ahead, wanting to predict the changes of life and direct our life play, when in reality, no man knows the future. There is  only One who is omnipresent and He is God. I am guilty, so, so, so, so guilty of this. I get caught up in the doing of it and forget the experiencing of it. There is a fine line between “failing to plan is planning to fail” and “going with the flow.”

Life is like a canvas.  I am an artist and everyone’s life canvas is different. Maybe your life’s painting is watercolored, swirls of bright colors, blending together, intercepting each other without bias and subtly accepting every facet of life. Or yours is acrylic, clear in the view point, unapologetically firm in the idea with a full spectrum of colors, expressing darkness in contrast to the light. Some paintings of life mirror oil paints, slippery, wet, textured smears of multicolored abstract views. Whatever you see in your mind, it is the expectations of the future that hinders the true living of today. In the extreme, it is very unhealthy.  Surrender to today. Feel the connection you have to your world, your present, your fellow human beings. Accept your place in today and that you are where you are today, nothing can change that. Then love it. Love your brokenness, love your strength, love your resiliency because you are alive. Nobody but you has full credit for that. Nobody can take that away from you and the present only happens once. Appreciate this very second.
So don’t worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will bring its own worries. Today’s trouble is enough for today. (NLT) ( Matthew 6:34 )
051388e0dfa0727852664d1f874639b9e6f729-wm“At the very root of worry is fear. Fear of the unknowns or what if’s can erode away the security we find in God. Don’t let this fear overtake you and allow the worry to creep in your thoughts. Place your confidence in Jesus that He will provide and comfort you. Then pray.”
This was a daily devotions of mine some time ago from: http://jctrois.com
and it’s real pertinent to how I constantly feel here. One one hand, I’m like ‘ahhhhh I have so many ideas and things I want to do!’ on the other I’m like, ‘patience Grasshopper, you must only be awesome today.” This scripture helps me in remembering to make my service just that, my service. On my time, my scale and my journey. That idea is applicable to any and everything. Work on today. You are doing yourself a disservice focusing on tomorrow.

 

Traveler Log: Day 200

Traveler Log: Being here, seems like a time wrap. “I have only been here six months” but in comparison to my time left, I only have a year and 9 months to go. Time is moving fast in a slow continuum. It doesn’t help that my friends keep leaving. My heart hurts, because another volunteer left. It seems selfish, but I can only think of how much I will miss him. The absence is felt in my small circle of friends. I find myself at odds with volunteers, weirder than most and uninterested in the activities they enjoy. This volunteer understood me and was a support in my small network. His absence will be missed. I can’t help feel resentment at the way he left as well. It wasn’t voluntarily. No matter, God moves in mysterious ways. Every setback is a setup for greatness. You just have to open yourself to it.

Continue reading Traveler Log: Day 200