Friday, September 30, 2005

PC training - Week 4

WHO: Essa (aka Vanessa)
WHAT: Peace Corps, Environmental Education
WHERE: Nicaragua
WHEN: Sept '05 - Nov '07

WHY: La vida es un carnaval

Here's my training group - Celine, Noemi, Marcy, and me! We average about two Eskimo ice cream cones a week.

Nazareth and I painted our toenails one night. She told me the brownish color I chose was feo (ugly), but the only other options she had had glitter in them. Six year olds tell it like it is.

Though Maura thought I was crazy to take this photo - I wanted to show you all what a typical meal looks like. On the left are maduros - fried sweet bananas. On the lesft is gallo pinto (literally "spotted chicken" - for the color, not what's in it). It is made of beans and rice. I get this every night, and some days for lunch too. There are fried corn tortillas, a salad of cabbage and carrots, and finally a piece of salty white cheese. Maura is a great cook!

We made chocolate "chip" cookies this week. There are no chocolate chips, nor brown sugar, but appropriate substitues were found. These pictures show our round 1 results, and then the ones we had more success with after we tweaked the recipie. Nica flour, brown sugar substitue (called "dulce") , and baking powder all all different than what I'm used to.

Our training group did did one more charla in the schools - I did mine on the time it takes different trash to decompose. It went well and everyone was surprised when they found out plastic takes 500 years to disappear. We talked about choosing responsibly and trying to reuse and recycle.

Good news - Maura took one of the roosters to the mataderos (butchers). Hooray! Only three more to go! They like to hang out right outside my bedroom and crow all night.

Classes are finally getting a bit more challenging - we've made it our goal to get through all the forms of the subjunctive tense - something none of us have ever had good lessons in. We're also working on breaking bad habits we've formed over the years of getting by with what we know.

On Sunday, we will all be heading out on our own for a three day visit to a town where a current volunteer is serving. Everyone's looking forward to a break in training, a chance to see more of Nica, and what a volunteer actually does.

Thanks for all the emails! I've put all September photos up on Snapfish - check them out at:

You'll have to create an account first (it's free) and then click "view photos." I hope it works...

Saturday, September 24, 2005

PC training - week 3

WHO: Essa (aka Vanessa)
WHAT: Peace Corps,
Environmental Education
WHERE: Nicaragua
WHEN: Sept '05 - Nov '07
WHY: La vida es un carnaval

I started with the Peace Corps about a month ago - but I just found a computer to recognize my digital camera! I hope I can keep this blog going for the next few years, but it depends on computer access once I get placed in my site.

I think the fun is just beginning. I've been in my training town just outside of Managua, the capital city, for about 3 weeks. I'm living with a great host family and my days are packed with Spanish/Culture classes, technical training, chewing the fat with the locals, and trying to stay clear of mosquitoes and sopa de mondongo (beef intestine soup - the photo shows the before picture - not going to show me after).

Here's my wonderful host family (minus one)
(L-R: Petronio, Nazareth, Maura, not pictured is Mijail)

This was taken on the first night of the rolling blackouts - Nica's answer to the rising price of diesel. We lost power every evening for a few hours last week.

Petroni0 runs a small store out of the house, and Maura takes good care of us all and keeps the peace between 6 year old Nazareth and 15 year old Mijail.

This is my hermanita, Nazareth, jamming on the Djembe. She is Petronio and Maura's grandaughter. She teaches me lots of Spanish and I'm sure she's destined to be a poet - her sentences flow so beautifully!

Mihail shown to the right - he works almost every day at a local mechanics shop. He likes to watch an American progam recently created about buiding cars. He also got me hooked on "Pasion de Gabilantes" - a Colombian super cheesy soap opera. The only problem is sometimes it rains so hard (as its been doing for the past four days) on the tin roof, that we can't hear the TV at all.

Kids in my barrio - they play outside in the street a lot, and LOVE the digital camera.

This is our training group working on a "vivero" or tree nursery. We have technical training on weekends usually, and they are lead by current volunteers. There is a big push for tree nurseries because Nica, like most of Central America, is suffering the effects of deforestation.

I also just gave my first "charla" or talk on deforestation last week to about 30 - 6th graders in my training town. It went well and though I wasn't looking forward to going back to the classroom as a profesora, I was impressed by the student's attentivness, particpation, and formal thank-yous at the end of my lesson. Hopefully my experience in the classroom will erase all the bad memories created as a substitute back in the States!

Some future trees!

Marcy, Noemi and I (PC trainees) and Marcy's host family at Catarina. A popular local tourist
trap with a beautiful view of a caldera lake.

Waterfall at a local privately owned national park called "La Maquina".