Friday, June 30, 2006

New addition

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

Sorry for the hiatus folks, but life got kinda complicated there for a while. Back on track and updating what I can (having technical difficulties with blogger, so I couldn't upload all the photos I wanted). In any case, I've been working away on writing my masters thesis proposal entitled, "Monitoreo de agua subterranea usando el red de pozos con bomba de mecate". Yes, amazingly enough I am writting it in Spanish (and English) as the Dutch NGO I am working alongside and I will be presenting it to local government officials, the Nicaraguan USGS equivalent (called INETER), and ministries working in water resource management. In English, it's "Groundwater monitoring using a network of rope pump wells". I won't bore you all with the details, but keep your fingers crossed that all goes well in the initial presentations. That's been taking up a lot of time as I try to get well information from the water utility here in the city - on one occasion, the hydrologist actually told me, "we used to monitor wells for the city, but when the government changed, they burned all those reports". Keeps it interesting.

Visit to nearby farm__________________________________________

Celine's favorite farm family invited me and one other volunteer, Jenny to their home for a day. I've met the family before and am old news to them. The real attraction was Jenny, who, after Celine showed the family a picture a few weeks ago, really, really wanted to meet her since she is of Korean descent. She has "ojos chinos" (chineese eyes), and had never seen a reall live Asian person before. Celine and Jenny spent a lot of time trying to get them to appreciate the difference between Chineese and Korean. Here's their home with a beautiful blooming malinche tree:

The view from the kitchen - we helped make corn tortillas with Chepita, the mom, on their wood stove:

Chepita making her very tasty rice pudding - she planned this especially for me since I've been trying to make it for years without success. She made it look so easy:
Celine and I swimming at the local poza:

The guys can play checkers incessantly; on the right is the dad, the other two are his sons. Other than that, they have a radio and a tiny TV (they were watching Flipper when we arrived.) They run it off a car battery. Every three days they walk the battery to the dirt road (quarter mile), give it to a bus that passes by. The bus driver drops it off a place that specializes in charging batteries for the campo folk in the nearest town. The next day, they wait for the bus to pass by and drop off the charged battery.

After quite a bit of coaxing, we got the family to play the guitar and sing some songs. Chepita, however, has no part in this, and does very little visiting outside of the kitchen. She even stays in the kitchen even when she's not cooking - even though we are all in the living room. Her role is very established.

This is not part of the family, but Francisco, who accopanied Celine and I on a walk we took the following day.

Youth group__________________________________________________

I invited the boys from the school to the normally all girls youth group to make checker boards out of, well, garbage. I brought cardboard to make the boards, and had local mom and pop shops save their bottle caps for me. It was a real spacial challenge for some of them, and I nearly pulled out all my hair, but in the end, they all got one.


Probably the biggest news of the month is that I got a puppy. I'm still amazed I did it, as I am a huge committment-phobe, dislike extra baggage when I travel, and have had no success keeping even a basil plant alive in the past 5 years. But, some of Celine's neighbors were trying to unload him as he was eating too much, they said. I thought perhaps some companionship in my house would help me through some of the lonley times here in Nicaragua. The first week, though was kinda rough as he was so sad being separated from his mom and brother, and then I gave him a super shot of de-parsiting medicine which wiped him out for a few days. So, instead of cheering me up, he was depressing me.

But, that's all behind now and I can't keep up with him...especially when he has to pee. I named him Güegüense (prounounced whe-when-se), which is a traditional character from a 17th century Nicaraguan play. Roughly, it's about the Spanish conquistadors being continuously duped by a character named Güegüense, who represented the indigenous people. Even today he is reveared here in Nicaragua since he was especially adept at pulling the wool over the eyes of those strong-minded Spanish (in a cunning, funny way) who were trying so hard to civilize the natives. His most famous line is, "I will agree, but won't do what I agree to." To this day, this mentality pervades Nicaraguan culture, and has frustrated efforts of transparancy-loving gringo politicians, non-government organizations, and Peace Corps Volunteers alike.

Here's Gueguense with his favorite toy - a paint roller.

Okay, gotta close for now...pretty sure Guense needs to be let out. He agreed he wouldn't pee in the house while I was gone, but, yeah, right, like he's not going to??