Saturday, November 12, 2005

Week 11 - Home stretch!

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

Okay, we finally got a breather before the last stretch of training! I don't know what I'm happier about - the break, or the end of training. Tomorrow we all say goodbye to our training host families, it'll be hard leaving Nazareth (who actually told Maura she wishes I were her mama - someone pass me a tissue...) and Maura, who has been incredibly helpful, warm, loving, and supportive. But, they know they can always come see me in my new home - and they are prepared to let me crash out there whenever I need a change of scene.

Next week is the final push - lots of meetings in Managua with those folks in charge of PC logitics and whatnot - and Friday we all swear in. It should be exciting with all the host families present, embassy peeps, as well as Senor Bolanos, the president of Nicaragua. Time to get all slicker'd up and put away the red shirt and kakies that you all see me in in every one of the photos I post. I promise I do change every so often.

The photos below were taken from my site visit last week:

Here's me doing the laundry. Though I want to say it's not THAT bad, I've only been doing it for about two weeks...I'm sure I'll end up hating it. A lot of PCVs hire a neighborhood woman to do it for them...will I befall that same fate?

Yet another homely pic - here I am making gallo pinto (the typical rice and bean dish) with my host...person (she's only 6 years older than I, so I don't really want to call her mom). Her names Gigglia - she's holding baby Adrain, who is actually her grandson. She cares for both of her grandsons as her daughter, 19, lives with her boyfriend and evidently didn't want to take responsibility for the kids. It's kind of an atypical situation I gather. In all, I live with Gigglia and her sister Ketel, Gigglia's grandsons Adrian (6 mos) and William (2 yrs), and Ketel's son, Larry (6 yrs). I'll try to get a family photo up soon. Both the sisters are divorced, and Ketel works outside the home. Their Dad is in Miami working in construction and he sends them dinero. I feel really comfortable with Gigglia and Ketel, and though they are busy, they have a pretty extensive family,so there's always someone to guide the gringa around and show off the town's sights.

This is our living room...and the only real room except the bedrooms. There are a few rocking charis, a TV, and a fridge. Oh, and the baby's hammock.

Here's Larry with his favorite kitten. Behind him you can see all the plastic bottles that are filled whenever the water gets turned on by the water company. In the rainy season, this neighborhood gets water every other day, but in the summer, it comes once a week or so. The family has a large storage tank, so I don't gather it's too problematic except during severe droughts.

Around town...this is the central park gazebo.

The Catholic church.

I also got a tour of the town's zoo. I have to say it made me kinda sad. The animal's cages are very small, and though they are clean, there is just not the funds to re-create an appropriate habitat, as we are accustomed to seeing in the US. Many times animals are caged individually. I should note though, that around the monkey cage, a wild one was hanging around on the oustide visiting those inside.

Who's on whose team?

Some of the spectaular scenery on the edge of town - I'm hoping to do lots of exploring down there in the valley and around the Amerisque mountians in the distance. However, I've found that hiking for fun is largely the white-mans' pastime than Nica's don't really share, and trails seem hard to come by. Most roads just lead to someone's house. We'll see. I have a couple of years to figure it out.

Yeah, that's a carrot pinata. The rural school I visited put on a big welcoming reception for sang and recited poetry, and afterwards there was a pinata. There are three teachers, and about 40 students at the school. So the classes are multi-grade, with pre-school alone, younger kids and then older ones. The school was only about 3 years old, and in great condition. It's very clean, and it looks like the teachers put lots of effort into their teaching with lots of posters and activities. They have new latrines, and even two 1000 (?) gallon tanks for rainwater collection off the roofs. During the dry season, the community really suffers as the valley drys up. I think UNICEF and possibly USAID have helped the school quite a bit recently.

Here's the kids scampering for candies...

Last Sunday, Rafael, who is Gigglia's nephew hooked us up with a family (that has a car) and we drove to a nearby hot spring. As you can see, they develop them a bit differently here - more like a big warm Olimpic pool. Not as hot as I'd like, but worth the effort and buck and a half to get in. There's rumored to be some un-developed ones just a few k outside of my community, but that they run hot and not-so-hot. But, they're free.

Okay, folks. Thanks for tuning in once again. Hope all's well with everyone!


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