Tuesday, January 6, 2009

06 Enero 2009

A new year! How time flys. Since my last post, I've been back to the states for a few weeks, home in site for almost a month, and now on my way back from a week and a half mission trip where I translated for a group of vet students.
The states were better than expected and the tranquility and lack of noise was enough to want to make me stay. But the second I got off the bus in front of my house (after 2 days of travelling!) and a neighbor kid was ripping my bag out of my hands to carry it to the door, I was happy to be back. Two full days of catching up with people and realizing how many good friends I have here in Nicaragua that were happy to see me and me just as happy to see them, makes me realize how special this is. No one was at my mom's door waiting to carry my bag in! Except my mom, of course, who is wonderful and supportive.
Nicaragua is it's same old self....rude, machisto, dirty, hot....and wonderful.....smiling faces, community, sharing, beautiful mountains, rivers, and waterfalls.
Over the last week and a half on this mission trip, I had the opportunity to see a new area of nicaragua that no tourists ever see-Ayapal, Jinotega. It's remote, required 2 days of travel to get there (three for me), and then a 2 hour boat ride each morning to arrive at the actual community we worked in. Ayapal, located on the river, has this exhilirating movement of people, coming in on boat (more like canoes with motors) and horse to do their shopping and trading. The river ride down to the even smaller community where we worked, was lined with jungle like trees, small children in underwear swimming, and men pushing boats with large sticks. Every day, coming home up stream, we were forced to get out of the boat and push, wading up to our knees in strong currents. And the day that my new friend, John Andrew, lost his footing while pushing, and almost floated away down stream, filled us with uncontrollable laughter. Many days, tired and irritable, our laughter carried us through. Thank goodness for my new friends during the trip and their humor.
Our group, the vet students, had the best time out of all the groups, hiking through the mountains to fincas that were supposedly "10 minute" walks, but ended up 40 minute hikes. We treated horses, cows, and pigs. Rode horses one day, hiked over rocks and rivers everyday, and did a postmortem exam on the following nights dinner chancho (pig) another day.
After all that, Dr Rick and I saw the group off to the airport and got some much needed rest in one of the most tranquil spots in Nicaragua....no chickens, pigs, dogs, road noise...just soft breeze and hammocks.
Now I'm on my way back home and have lots of grant writing work to do.
Happy holidays to all! Enjoy the cold and snow!

Saturday, December 27, 2008


The ¨horno mejorado¨ built by Eliza in her community.

Pizzas waiting in the windowsill to be put in the oven while the doña of the house relaxs with her new baby (4th boy!)

Rosquillas...traditional Nicaraguan bread product made with fresh cheese (cuajada)
And our american addition...cinnamon rolls

Horseback Riding

Laura, me, and Eliza riding near Laura´s community
Keens and Spurs..who would have known?

House Pics

What better way to explain than to show with pics. Finally some of my new abode...or shall I say adobe (house).
My kitchen

slash living room, furnished with hammock and plastic chairs

and makeshift closet

Friday, November 28, 2008

Some pics of everyday Nica things

Typical Nica Cow
and Goat House
A Rancho Ebenezer Lab
(the lines of people are due to the health brigade)
Preparing for surgery :)
Removing the tumor
And the patient made it back up
and headed home
Happy Trails..

Monday, November 17, 2008

17 de Noviembre, 2008

I now write post Nicaraguan election day. Although they were only departmental elections for mayor, these elections have brought about a lot of turmoil and fighting, with at least 2 dead in Managua, including one child. With election day, November 9th, almost 2 weeks past, the winner for Managua's new mayor is still undecided, with daily "protests" occuring in the streets, stopping traffic and creating violence.

Today, in fact, my medical visit was cancelled as it was determined unsafe to travel a certain highway here in Managua. And as I sat in the Peace Corps volunteer lounge chatting with fellow volunteers, I could hear the sounds of some kind of ammunition being fired on the streets. Luckily, these paid protesters have gone home by this hour and I should have no problems travelling to the airport for my late night flight to the states.

Although Jacksonville, Florida is relatively close to Nicaragua, I left my house at 6:30am to arrive tomorrow at noon! Gottta love Spirit air.

It's the eve before my christmas as I head back to the states to enjoy all those luxuries that I so miss, or maybe didn't know that I missed. I cant wait to be able to sit on the couch at the end of the day, watching a sitcom and eating ice cream. I cant to have really clean clothes that only required me to throw them in a machine with some soap. I cant wait to drink a good beer and have some good mexican food. And at a close tie to the food I miss (which I REALLY miss), I look forward to anonymity. It will be nice to have a short reprive from the constant attention I draw as a gringa in my small community. Yes, it is nice to say hi to everyone I pass on my morning run and have little children excitedly wait to join me running, but it will also be so nice to not have anyone watching, judging, or calling out "mi amor" or "gringasita" names as I ride by on my bike.

That said, I am leaving on a good note, after a productive week. I formed my committee to start my water project and have plans in progress even while I'm away. My women's group successfully made delicously creamy homeade peanut butter. I've joined in on the community bank started by my fellow PCV in the neighboring town and I celebrated my departure with a fajita dinner despidida and a pineapple updside down cake with my gringa girls.


Wednesday, November 5, 2008

05 de Noviembre, 2008

Its post-election day and we have a lot to celebrate!!!! A bunch of us peace corps volunteers got together last night in Esteli and watched the elections live in a hostel. All of us 30 volunteers there were Obama supporters and overcome with joy with the results. My faith in the american people has been restored after the last disappointing presidential elections.
This Sunday is Nicaraguas election day and the local municipality where I live has been campaining hard over the last month. Campaining here involves tons of people driving through communities on their motos and in pickups, screaming and cheering and waving their flags. There´s a lot of passion associated with the 2 parties, Liberals and Sandinistas, but not a lot of talk and reasoning behind their political choices. Most people are ¨born¨into their political party and don´t really ask why they are a part of it, they just are.
However, I live in the north of the country where there was a lot of fighting during the war, so there are strong emotions attached to their choice, as many people fled to Hondurus during the war or had brothers, sons, and fathers killed. And others had their land stolen by the Sandinistas.
I, being a US govt employee, am not allowed to take part in Nicaraguan politics and have had to watch everything on the sidelines, but its been interesting.
After our dog surgery, Evelio (the guy in the photos), Elizabeth (a peace corps volunteer in the community of the surgery), Mancho (my community counterpart) and I headed down to the Rancho Ebenezer ranch to attend some vet training. I was lucky enough to learn quite a bit and help my counterpart develop his skills. The suturing practice and goat castrations were my favorite part but helping Mancho learn how to do medicine dosage calculations, starting with how to use a calculator, was the most worthwhile part of the training.
Since returning from the training, Mancho and I have started a womens group to develop small business´catered to the new tourism route they are developing through our community. I will be working with the women showing them new skills and ideas to develop business´. Im also starting a small community bank with these women to teach savings, which is a nonexistent idea here, and provide a source of small loans at a low interest rate, which is also a difficult thing to obtain here.
And most of all, Im looking forward to my trip to the States on the 17th to spend Thanksgiving with my mom. Although I enjoyed a pumpkin-like pie I made last week (made out of a local squash, ayote, and the first pie made in my community), Im looking forward to enjoying turkey, good beer, and carpet in the company of my mom! And Im really looking forward to ¨testing¨out my yearning to go home and see if I truly miss the states and want to go back or if its a passing feeling that will make me wish to be back here in Nicaragua. And given that I fly out the day of my 1 year in service anniversary, it will be a good recharge for the next year of service.
In the next year, I hope to really give to the people of my community and Nicaragua and complete projects with a purpose. I feel I´ve turned a point in my service and its no longer so much about my experience and what Im getting out of it, but about what I can give. That said, Im signing off and thinking about how lucky I am to be an American and looking forward to the change our country is about to undergoe with the new president.