Sunday, October 12, 2008

Another long overdue entry….

I can’t believe it’s fall already! The summer came and went quickly but fortunately I was able to make the most of it by spending time with some very special visitors. My friend Leslie came down for a couple weeks at the end of June. We spent one weekend in Leon and at the beach, but aside from that we spent our time in Condega. Leslie was able to see me in “action” as I had to work while she was here. She even helped me give the final exam. We also went to the canyon in Somoto and hung out with Cesar and his friends.

Leslie and I in Managua

The canyon in Somoto

A few days after Leslie left, Sara and Russell flew in from Nebraska. After dropping off the goodies they brought me at the Peace Corps office, we took the bus to Granada. The next day we made our way to Rancho Santana, a nice hotel on the Pacific Coast, where we spent three days enjoying our private villa, the beach and pool, good food and good company. Afterwards we headed up north to Condega, where Sara & Russell were able to chill out for a few days in my cute little house before heading back to the States.

In front of the Cathedral in Granada

Sara & Russell at Rancho Santana

Our last day at Rancho Santana (with Cesar in his new favorite shirt!)

In early September I got to go home for a few days. I went to celebrate Brandy and Alex getting married, but it was also a chance for me to spend a little time with family and friends. And again, I took full advantage of eating all the good foods the US has to offer!

Me and the bride, Brandy

Tracy & I at Brandy’s reception

Good ‘ole American food & beer, BBQ at Texas Roadhouse

After getting back to Nicaragua, I had to make the final arrangements for my local competition. Near the end of the course I teach, La Empresa Creativa (The Creative Business), we hold a competition for the student businesses to pick the teams that will participate in the regional competition. It’s also a chance for the students to show off what they’ve been working on all year and sell their products. The winners who will be representing Condega at the Regional in Esteli are, “Reciclarte” a group that makes products like hanging plant baskets, bird cages and shower caddies out of recycled metal and “Zapanica” who make hanging shoe caddies. This month I will be helping them get ready for the regional competition and getting ready for the end of the school year. Less than two months left!

A couple weeks ago a bus went off the highway and landed down below, in my neighbor´s house. Some guys had been drinking in their community when they decided to go for a "joy ride" in the bus that they drive during the day and crashed. Sadly, the boy who was sleeping in the back room died. Here is a picture taken from the highway above,

It´s hurricane season again, which means lots of rain. No evacuations to date like last year, but already there have been lots of times being stuck in random places waiting out the rain. Here I am waiting for the rain to stop at the Payless Shoe store in Esteli with Georgina. At least it was air conditioned!!!

Sunday, May 18, 2008

Casa nueva...

Here are some photos of my new house....

the living room

kitchen, with cupboards and a microwave!!

my bedroom & bathroom

the garden

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

a little update for those who might still read this blog….

Well, we’re now in the 4th month of school and all of my students are supposed to have the ideas for their businesses. The key word is “supposed to” as some of them are still changing groups every week and complaining that there is “nothing” or there are “no new ideas”. I don’t feel too sorry for them since they’ve now had almost 4 months to decide on the idea for their business. But then again, thinking outside the box is not something they’re encouraged to do in the schools here, so I can understand their frustration. Soon we will be working on setting prices and marketing strategies…hopefully it will get done before the mid-semester break in July.

About a month ago I decided I wanted to look for a new house. So, after doing a lot of asking around I was able to find a new house to rent. Although I’m paying a lot more to live in this house, it’s worth it. It came practically fully furnished…couch, chairs, table, dishes, even a microwave! I also now have an inside bathroom with a shower, sink and a toilet that actually flushes. Plus out back I have a cute little garden with all kinds of flowers. Another good thing is that I usually have water during the day (5 am-5 pm) instead of waiting around all day for the water to come. I’ll try to post pictures soon. It’s quite an upgrade from my previous house!

Practically every town in Nicaragua has an annual celebration in honor of the local saint’s birthday called fiestas patronales. Condega’s fiestas patronales started this week and will last until almost the end of May. Already last week the “carnival” was up and running, which consists of four rides (yes, 4 rides, nothing compared to Blues Amusement!), a bunch of beer tents and a bull ring for (drunken) bull riding. There are processions (parades) throughout the next two weeks as well as a local food and artisan fair in the park. To end the festivities, there is a hípico, or horse parade, next Saturday followed by a big (drunken) party in the street with a concert by the Mokuanes, a very popular Nicaraguan group…think The Rumbles for you Nebraskans. These fiestas are obviously very important and therefore Wednesday, Thursday and Friday have been declared holidays which means no school or work for me. Considering the importance of “drinking” for this special celebration, I may be spending a lot more time inside in order to avoid the bolos, a.k.a. drunk men that will be found either harassing every woman that passes by or if I’m lucky, passed out on the street corners.

Nicaragua has been suffering a national transportation strike for ten days now. This means NO transportation from city to city. The only operating forms of public transportation are local taxis within individual cities. Apparently the transportation unions are asking the government to subsidize the gas prices. Unfortunately the government hasn’t been quick to meet the demands of the unions and a week and a half later we are still without bus service. Now, my town has pretty much everything I need except for one minor detail…there is no bank. So, yesterday, since I was down to about C$100 ($5) and not knowing when this strike is going to end, I hooked up a ride to Esteli in the city’s trash truck (minus the trash) for my friend Ashley and I! This was a 1st for me but it actually worked out good, we were able to run our errands and got a free ride. I´m hoping this ends soon though...

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

birthdays & the cat formally known as "cheetarah"...

26!! i´m officially closer to 30 than 20 now. at least i´m off to a good start... instead of celebrating my birthday with blizzard like last year, this year I was able to hang out in granada with some of my friends. warm weather, steak, american breakfasts, margaritas & toña and dancing! here are some pictures from the festivities.......
The cathedral and view of the downtown Granada.

with Cara in the park...

two of my favorite people in nicaragua, Cara and Cesar

Me & Cesar, after our meal of steaks and red wine...yum!
Dancing at "El Club"

i´m also now a "proud" pet owner. i´ve adopted a cat from a couple of other volunteers, mainly to control the little mouse problem in my house. they had named her cheetarah, apparently after one of the Thundercats, but i decided to pick a name thats a little bit easier, "mimi". well, she´s run off the mice, but i now have the pleasure of being woken up at 5 am everyday!!! fun, fun. i guess life is full of these little "trade-offs".....


Monday, February 11, 2008

A little update for the new year...

Once again I am way past due on updating my blog. I should have made it my New Year's resolution to keep it current, but no one ever keeps their resolutions anyways!!

Thanks to my wonderful parents I was able to come home for Christmas. I took full advantage of the hot showers, good food and being able to drive. I was only able to go for 10 days, but it was great to see everyone. I was actually ready to come back to Nicaragua though, because I couldn't deal with the cold! When I left Omaha it was 15ºF and when I landed in Managua it was 95ºF!!! Quite a difference in temperatures....

This is me, freezing.....
Leslie, Me and Tracy
Family Christmas

I spent New Year's here and then went "on vacation" to Quepos, Costa Rica. My friend Brandy and her generous parents invited me to join them on their trip. I had an amazing time there, its a beautiful country. I went on a zip-line canopy tour, went deep sea fishing and caught a 100 lb sail fish and got a nice tan relaxing on the beach and by the pool.

My sail fish

Beach at the National Park, Manuel Antonio
Costa Rican sunset

Ready for the canopy tour!!

Aside from my trips, not much new is going on. Classes started last week so things have started to pick up here. I have a feeling this school year is going to fly by!

Sunday, November 25, 2007

happy thanksgiving...a little belated

Happy Thanksgiving!! I hope everyone had a good holiday. I was able to celebrate Thanksgiving here as well....I went to the house of an Embassy family with some other volunteers. The family was really nice and the food was great! Turkey, mashed potatoes, cranberries, stuffing, even pumpkin pie (which is a big deal because they don´t even sell pumpkin in Nicaragua so that had to be ordered from the states!)

Before Thanksgiving, I spent the week in Managua for our annual All Volunteer Conference...which along with some training sessions, basically involves staying in a nice hotel and eating a lot of really good food. It was really hard to come back to cold showers and a hard bed after being there for so long. I was also able to go to the Maná I realize most of you have no clue who Maná is, but they are a really popular Mexican rock group who has been around for a long time. We were really fortunate to be able to go because I guess when they play in the states, tickets sell out really fast and are much more expensive. Down here, my VIP ticket only set me back $30!

Other than that I´m just counting down the days until I come home and until my friend comes to visit next week! See you soon....

Wednesday, November 7, 2007

6 month update...

Well, after spending nearly a week consolidated in Managua because of the heavy rains and threat of flooding, I returned to my site. Unfortunately, I didn´t exactly "return" to teaching. In the last 4 weeks I have taught only 1 class...yes, thats one in 4 whole weeks. I´m supposed to be teaching 8 classes per week, but for the last month all of my classes have been cancelled for various reasons (meetings, holidays, rain) or I´ve had to miss to attend PC related events (consolidation, competitions). So, now there is only one week left (I just found out that final exams start next week) before school gets out for the year. The "summer" break here is from Dec-Jan and then classes start back up in Feb. These first three months at my site have flown by. In less than two months I´ll be back in Nebraska for Christmas!!

I´m finally settled into my house. The only thing I still need to buy is a matress, since the bed I have now basically consists of a 2" piece of foam on a wooden frame. Real comfy... I now have a t.v. with cable! I honestly never thought I would have cable in the Peace Corps but its just too cheap to turn down. This way I´m able to keep up with college football (even if NE is horrible!) and movies on HBO.

Last Thursday I went to Venecia, a little town about a hour away from Condega into the mountains, with all of the people I work with at the Mayor´s office. We brought food, played Twister (not my idea...), and visited a cute little "pond" nearby. While rowing around on the little rowboats with my friend, Johana, our friends decided that we needed to go swimming and proceeded to tip over our boat. So, in we went, clothes and all...I didn´t mind too much except that it was freezing! I will post pics as soon as the internet wants to cooperate...

Just as a little bit of explanation for when I refer to the "competitions"....The main idea of the business course that we teach is that the students learn to start & manage their own business. So, in order to get hands-on experience to put into practice what they are learning, they form groups of approximately 6 people and form their own business. They start by establishing the product or service that they will sell and work through all the aspects of running business, setting their price, marketing their product, accounting, etc. Towards the end of the school year competitions are held between the student groups at the local, regional and national level. This gives the students something to work towards and gives them the opportunity to present their business and sell some products.