Tuesday, May 09, 2006

In Service Training

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

Summer’s panorama of spindly leafless trees growing from carbon black dirt is the photo negative of a shapshot of the midwest’s snowy winter landscape. With the ground at its driest, farmers have lit up the land in an attempt to rid the fields of weeds and prepare the land for crops and better grazing for the cattle in the months to come. At night, live red scars blaze across the blackness, and during the day, smoke plumes dot the land, as if the natives were engaged in lively dialogue. The charred ground is dotted by whispy shrubs and scrubby trees that refused to burn, and wispy cows and scrubby horses that refuse to die.

As though the earth were spontaneously combusting the ­­Córtez trees, which have taken root in the valleys, burst into flaming yellow flowers. They seem to fly in the face of summer’s best attempt to slowly return every living thing to dust. And although it appears that summer has mother earth beat, the flowers announce that she has won the battle withthe scorching season as they bloom just before the winter rains.

In Service Training _______________________

Most volunteers are located in hot, arid zones , and perhaps PC Nica knows it as they plan our yearly week long training at the end of the summer when it's at its most dastardly. All of the Environment group and counterparts were invited to the Selva Negra, a more or less self sustaining organic coffee farm in the department of Matagalpa - up in the north and in the mountains. The farm was founded by a handful of German settleers in the late 1800s and they've expanded operations into resort accommodations and flower cultivation. As the land is private, it's been protected from the rampant tree cutting wiping out native forests of Central America.

I was thrilled to head up there thinking I could hike around the mountians and explore for monkeys...but when I got there I realized we had solid meetings from practically sun up to sun down. Nonetheless, we did manage to have some fun.

My counterpart, Wilder, and I...we took this one about 10 times, since he had the hardest time actually smiling for a photo (although he smiles all the time in real life). Some of us on a monkey hunt in the wee hours. We didn't see any, but we heard their eerie calls. It was creepy.
One of the more fun talks was on using recycled materials to make arts and crafts. Here we are bending bottle caps...
Oragami samuri hats...
Bottle cap checkers...

After the training bit, Noemí, Allie and I rented a couple of horses to explore the farm.
Here's all the Enviro Ed group with our country director, Todd. He's unfortunatley leaving Nicaragua next week to head up Peace Corps Guatemala.
Fiestas patronales in Villa Sandino__________

I went back to the Villa to help celebrate Mike's birthday (he's the grillmaster). It also happened to be the week of the patron saint party, which was timely.

We had a potluck at Marrisas's place -

And went to the bull riding competition. The action was so slow inside the ring though, that I liked watching the people more...

Kids at the school__________________

Still clearing the ground for the garden - we planted the seeds in the seedbed we made a few weeks ago, and within 2 hours the ants were all over it. We'll see how bad the damage is in a few weeks...

A photo of the after school youth group of girls. They agreed on the name of Rebeldes (the rebels) which is also the name of a popular Mexican soap opera revolving around high school girls.

Random pics_______________________


Blogger Cynthia & Dan said...

As always Essa, those are great pictures!

So I'm sad to say that my husband and I will not be going to Nicaragua for PC, but instead to Peru! We're pleased with our assignments. Still, for awhile we were sure they were going to send us to Nica and we were so excited to see your projects in action. Keep up the great work.


11:50 AM  
Blogger R Gross said...

Beautiful words and photos - you are blooming as an artist as the trees bloom

Love Dad

8:48 AM  

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