Saturday, July 29, 2006

Making amigos

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

Once again, I am plagued by technical problems with uploading pics...I hope someday I can put up all the ones I want to!

In any case, in the past month, I've been focusing more on making friends here since though work is going well, the lonliness was starting to get to my head. It takes a lot of time to make friends...after 8 months of being in my site, I am finally starting to be able to joke around easily with the little shop owners, stop and talk to people as I walk through town, and feel like I'm more of a part of the community. I don't think it would take so long in some of the smaller communities many volunteers are in, but my site has around 60,000 folks, and is the department capital, so there's lots of people traveling in from the satellite communities - lots of activity and new faces every day.

Getting a puppy has helped a lot with getting to know neighbors and people in the street - almost everyday as I'm walking through town I have someone I don't know ask me about Gueguense. (I'm thinking, how do they know his name and only refer to me as La Gringa??). It's also helped a lot with the piropos (catcalls) from the men in the street, which was really getting to me. Now instead of making a comment about me, they say something about him - its a real relief. I was actually considering dying my hair a mousy brown color for a while there.

Getting to know the community takes a long time. When you do errands, you don't just do what you have to do, it helps a lot to stop and talk to the shop assistants and owners. You buy some eggs at the local mom and pop shop, and you sit with them, have a coke, and talk about the weather or the upcoming fiestas patronales (patron saint party) for 20 minutes or a half hour. So, I think if I could do it over agian, I'd have stopped working so much at the beginning of my service, and just visited with everyone a lot more. But, it's hard to do that when you're a busybody anglo-saxon with a certain hardwired puritanical work ethic.

I will try tomorow to put up the pics of what's been going on - here are some random ones:

Mark, Marissa, (two voluntees that live nearby) and I watching a bootleg copy of Crash at my house:

The following three pics are by Celine - I really like them and think they're not only great shots, but great to show what Nicaraguans look like:

Bean planting started last month. Here's Erwin, a guy I met while doing some field work on water resources, planting. With the big stick, he makes a little hole in the very rocky soil, throws three beans in it, covers it a bit and moves to the next about 6 inches away or so. The following photo is the "field" - really the side of a hill - that he must plant full of beans:

An enormous cow I stumbled upon in the field.

The bus from Boaco:
York, a volunteer in El Salvador and with whom I went to school last year with at Michigan Tech, helped me andMaria, another volunteer from El Salvador get in touch, as she was coming down to Nicaragua for a conference. So we hung out for the weekend in Granada - being tourists for a change - eating phad thai and waffles, swimming, and sleeping a lot. She has lots of interesting stories since she's halfway through her third year of PC and has had 4 different sites. It was also really interesting to see how her service was so different than mine just because of how different we look. I have a hard time getting people to take me seriously somtimes for being a blonde female with cat eyes (that's what they call those with light colored eyes), they ask me a lot for money, help getting a visa, etc. On the other hand, she is constantly mistaken for a SalvadoreƱa, and talks about the fact that many of the people don't really value her or her work since she doesn't look like a gringa. She thinks that perhaps they are kind of disappointed with her since she looks just like they do.

The hot springs are once again in service now that the rainy season has started. Celine and I went for the afternoon. This photo captures the essence of life in the tropics :

More pics soon!


Post a Comment

<< Home