Thursday, December 18, 2008


peace corps and i will part ways tomorrow. i just got back from an interesting exchange at the border, allowing me to stay here for three months more while i wait on residency papers. in january i will start community classes and training for my new school. feb 2 i will begin teaching my new students. i leave sunday for a tiny town called La Batea to spend a traditional nicaraguan christmas with moises. i couldnt feel more blessed.

sometimes your path just changes...and you dont know why or really know where you are going. but ive learned that to go back or to try to ignore the path doesnt learning to enjoy exploring this path im on.

merry christmas to you all...its 85 degrees here. :)

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

i´ve been thinking about you lately...

December 8, 2008
A few snapshots of the journey. I have been kind of deliberately closed lately because of a decision I must make. My path in Nicaragua is splitting and I must choose which road to take. I will have the answers this week I am hoping and will then be able to explain more fully where I am at. In the meantime, here’s some snapshots of what I’ve been up to.

Yep, I went home. For 5ish days for my best friend’s wedding. It was just unreal. The lack of sleep and overwhelmingness that is the US and seeing people who know you deeply kept me fairly numb. I watched my best friend’s eyes flash in the realization of the huge decision she was making, met my nephew face to face and reconnected with my niece, ate tons of food that I love but found it was not as satisfying as I had always imagined, and just hugged and hugged the people I love. I felt hollowed out yet filled up all at the same time. It was this bizarre experience, like I had never left and yet fully aware that my life was going on in another country. I believe I have started a journey in which I will be a citizen of two worlds, two places. Part of that makes me uncomfortable and I want to pretend that it isn’t happening. But when I realized on my flight back to Managua that I kept referring to it as home, I knew that I had really created a place here. This is the first home I have made for myself without roommates or family members, and all on a foreign soil. It’s just kind of odd. I look forward to having people come visit me so they can see this life I live here. I remember thinking about Nicaragua before I came and I could not imagine what the day in day out looked like – I had nowhere to connect their experience. But I am finding it is not that much different than my life back home, and I know you will all feel welcome here.

Summer has arrived, which you know has me rejoicing. But this summer comes in with a transition time in El Crucero. It’s still chilly here because of the immense wind that kicks up all the time, but at least it is sunny and dry. However, there is a new plague to study: chinches. These little squarish bugs that buzz loudly, smell awful and burn your skin if they pee on you. Which is not an unlikely occurrence. Because of where my house is situated, the chinches congregate on the walls and roof of my house. And it is disgusting and slightly terrifying. It’s not too bad until they get in your house or you want to wash your clothes outside in the lavadera. I’m hoping this fierce wind will blow them all away. In the meantime, I’ve gotten really handy with my heart-shaped flyswatter.

About a year ago, I wrote a post about roots, talking about this yearning to put down roots and grow into the community around me, but feeling the restraint and inability to do so. I knew I was coming to a foreign place, and knew I could not sink too deep into the things I was involved with in KC. Yesterday, as I watched the faces of my Nicaraguan brothers and sister, laughing and talking, shifting as the cold wind sliced through our outside party, my heart swelled with thanksgiving. I am putting down roots. I am learning this people, and they are slowly becoming my people. Though we are very different in many ways, there is this commonality found in Christ that just blows my mind. I have been embraced, accepted, made a part of. And I find this rich freedom to grow all that I can, to embrace all that I am receiving and to dig down deep as I unfurl. I’m not talking about literally putting down roots, like I am going to live here forever, but that blessed feeling of giving of yourself, to let yourself become part of the community you find yourself in. It is amazing to be a part of these people’s lives.

I just finished the most beautiful book. It is called the Memory Keeper’s Daughter, and it is this amazing study of how a human’s desire to protect through concealing leads to more harm they could have ever imagined. It was a tragic story but one that was rich in imagery and the poignancy of raw emotions, emotions we tend to gloss over or renamed. What could have been so trite or flat became this deep ocean of people interacting, and watching the ripples of each action shaping the story. Not just a good read, but something to consider. How often have I exchanged the truth for a lie in the name of comfort or political correctness or simple embarrassment? I forget that my actions have consequences and each should be weighed carefully, considering the people it will impact and the outcome. Definitely a heavy book, but one that I found to be refreshing.

Curving masks glittered in the fading sunlight above missing teeth and goosebumped flesh. Laughter rang out among the whistling wind as the children waited somewhat patiently in their plastic seats. We were having a birthday party with some 70+ people. Our church works with a group of kids down at km 32, where a large number of families live in extreme poverty. The goal is simple – to show love and lend a hand to people who are hungry. Yesterday was a particularly special time because the boss of one of our church members had decided to celebrate her son’s 8th birthday with our group of children, knowing they would not be receiving gifts for Christmas or their birthdays. There were two huge piñatas and massive amounts of food, soda, candy and toys. The hunger in these kids’ eyes was heartbreaking as they clustered impatiently in their lines to receive. But the thing I saw shining out over the heaviness of poverty was the sheer joy our youth and this woman’s family had in giving. I sat and watched the birthday boy Cid as he stood before

Monday, November 3, 2008

and the sun arose

October 20: Birds (This happened a few weeks back, just forgot to write it in)
Warning: If your name is Steph Moore, you may want to skip this post.

It was a perfectly normal Tuesday morning for me, nothing out of the ordinary. I had woken up on time, thrown my hair up into its sopping wet twist, eaten my toast with jelly while chatting with Graciella and entered into my damp classroom. And there it was…this feathery, sticky mess hanging from the zinc roof rafters. A dead bird, stuffed to the gills with wispy white cotton. Was this a prank? Did they hold a taxidermy class while I was teaching in the other school? I looked wide-eyed at all the students, but no one was reacting, no one had the same look of disbelief that I had. My co-teacher walked in grinning, with a student at his side. “It’s good, yea?” he said to me. “What on earth is it??” I asked. He explained that it was for a science project. The student at his left had shot the bird was in the process of stuffing it to get it ready for the next class. So while I taught some nonsense about the structure of “be supposed to” to express intended activity, the student and his girlfriend continued stuffing the bird, using plastic baggies from tajada(a really tasty fried green plantain chip and salad snack) the day before and using their jackets tied around their faces against the smell. It’s moments like this that make me wonder why on earth am I teaching English. I guess so he could tell his teacher (should she speak English) “I was supposed to stuff the dead bird last night, but I didn’t have time…I was doing my English homework.”

The Inner Workings of Poverty

After much thought and deliberation, I’ve narrowed the cause of poverty here to two main things. I know, you all think you already know, but I am confident you have not thought of these two things. They are gift-giving and cell phones. Yep. First, everyone is always giving gifts and expected to give gifts, no matter the lack of money or the viability of a person liking or using a gift. Food is given often and it is considered kind of inconsiderate to go to town or to the store and not bring back something tasty. This, obviously, whittles away your wallet and makes people like me, who are cordoba counters and peso pinchers, feel uncomfortable. But I am learning to loosen up and balance the giving…plus its really nice to receive, too. And cell phones. First, it is RIDICULOUS to buy minutes here. You pay for one dollar of credit, which is 20 – 22 cords, and that only is available to you to use for two or three days. And you won’t get that much out of it because one minute uses a lot of cents. And if you are calling Movistar from Claro, forget it. Then there are the overly priced cell phones that these people buy without hesitation and often on credit. 200 to 300 DOLLARS people. Dollars. And they don’t keep them long, selling the ones they have and buying others, not gaining a profit but always spending. People here are incredulous that I have a phone without camera, video, MP3’s and it only cost me 15 dollars. They seriously don’t believe me. So I’ve decided that the way to solve Nicaragua poverty, at least here in El Crucero is to buy a monton of cell phones in the states and give them away here. And then we will all be able to buy more soda and I will have solved a developmental problem in a cultural sensitive way. 

HOPE: October 20ish.
“I see hope as an attitude where everything stays open before me...daring to stay open to whatever will come to me today, tomorrow, two months from now, or a year from now--that is hope. to go fearlessly into things without knowing how they'll turn out, to keep on going, even when something doesn't work the first time, to trust in whatever you're doing--that is living with hope."
--henri nouwen

This quote knocked me off my feet when I read it in a gchat last week. Good stuff.

It´s official, I am pure Nica and able to marry. Or so they tell me. I really like fresh made tortillas and I finally asked Graciella to show me how. It´s really simple, just water and Maseca, but the art is in the palming of the tortilla on a plastic bag cut into a circle. There must be force, making the palming sound, and there must be care, creating a perfectly round tortilla. Then you must be careful when cooking it on the iron disc over the flame-leave it too long and it burns, not long enough and it will be doughy. And then there is the puffiness. After the second turn, you push on the tortilla on the iron plate and the dough puffs. Really well made tortillas will puff entirely and are a beautiful golden color. I have found I really enjoy this tortilla making and have been thoroughly embarrassed by it. All sorts of whistling and oyes! and photo taking on cameras accompanied me on my first and second tries. Now they just ask me to do it and tell me that Im pura nica because of how I make tortillas. Who knew I could become a citizen with my tortilla making skills? Someone should tell Napoleon Dynamite.

Friday, October 10, 2008

ok...some real posts

Depth: October 2
As I rush to write this experience down, my cheeks are damp with tears. Today was one of those days. The questions, the doubts that crouch in the corners of your mind coming out full force. The weariness palpable on your skin. My ojos gatitos dulled by the clouds and rising fear. But then I went to Jinotepe. Did my shopping and errand running, determined to enjoy my free day tomorrow….plus I had a package. This package is what I want to talk about. I opened the yellow envelope with the familiar simple jaunty lettering letting me know that it was my precious sister friend Lauren…what I saw inside made me weep, huge tears falling. First was the tiny soap and lotion in Jasmine….just as I was desperately missing scents. Two bags of chocolate, almond M&M’’s and dove dark chocolate. I am a FANATIC of dove dark chocolate and couldn’t believe I was privileged enough to receive such a treat here in Nicaragua. Then came the shirt. The beautiful royal blue shirt with golden lettering that says “Someone in Kansas Loves Me”. I just buried my streaming eyes into it, struck through by the memories of how much you all back home love me. That you are walking this out with me, no matter how far away you are, that I am deeply and well-loved by all of you. This realization almost always is followed up by a wave of regret, a wistful wondering of why I left what was so good…but then came the card and the first Dove chocolate. “I believe in you” declared the envelope and precious words touched my heart within…including this Mary Oliver verse called Praying
“It doesn’t have to be the blue iris, it could be weeds in a vacant lot, or a few small stones; just pay attention, then patch a few words together and don’t try to make them elaborate, this isn’t a contest but the doorway into thanks, and a silence in which another voice might speak.”

And in case I was still having doubts, the first dove chocolate read “Learn to say I Love You in another language” and the second said “Slow down, take notice, savor the moment.” Seeing as I am learning to say I love you in Spanish to someone very dear to me and I get to take tomorrow to rest, I had to just laugh and realize that even more than you all love me; I am loved beyond my wildest imaginations by an amazing and perfect Father and Lover. Thank you Jesus.

PS: Thank you so much to my dear friends Lauren, Jen, Luke, Sara, Brenna, and Missy…and my Mama of course…who have taken the time and effort to put together little packages or long letters…there is something indescribably rich about receiving these love tokens and I adore writing three or fours days on a letter and shipping it back…there’s something more intimate, more real for me, in communicating this way. Thank you, thank you, thank you.

A good cook?: October 4
There is something I feel I have to wrestle with in a public forum…my food dilemma here in Nicaragua. Back home, I loved to cook and try new recipes, and considered myself a good cook, for the most part. I knew how to make a variety of dishes and could mix and match dishes to complement each other. But here, I feel like a novice who is uncomfortable with the kitchen, and honestly, I can’t remember what I made back home. Part of the problem obviously is just the different products available and the different approaches to cooking. Also the bare resources I have…both in money to buy food and the lack of multiple cooking pans and utensils, as well as the current dilemma of having no gas, so everything I make must be made in my electric frying pan. This greatly changes the dynamics…but I digress. First of all, I suck at making rice. I have made multiple horrific messes (including one disastrous attempt today to make Chinese fried rice) and am always timid to try again. I never made rice much in the states and if I did, it was as a small side to the meal, never the main food. Here, it is this grimacing foe, taunting me to conquer it because it knows I need it to make it through my week on my food budget…yet I keep skipping around it. Plus, to me, plain rice is not a good food option. I could, of course, make gallo pinto, but this involves making the rice (a 30 minute process that may or may not have to be redone), then removing the rice to put to the side and making the beans, taking another 2 hours or so to cook, then draining those beans and frying them with a little oil and garlic…then adding the rice back in and stirring it all together. Too many variables and being unsure of quantities to make as well. So I look for another route, eatings lots of eggs with onion and “bell peppers”- which are miniature versions of bell peppers back home and only available in green- with some precious cheddar cheese sprinkled on top, quesadillas, sometimes pasta with just sauce, and the occasional meal I get invited to at a nica table. Oh, and LOTS of wheat bread toasted with fruit jam…this week it’s guava. As you may begin to wonder as I am, what kind of damage am I doing to my body? In the states, I was careful to get my daily allowance of vegetables and fruits, snacking on baby carrots and apples, snagging grapes and bananas on my way to classes, and tossing in corn, green beans and bell pepper into any dish I happened to be making. But I don’t have any of those aforementioned options, except bananas, and I also don’t have the variety of sauces, meal helpers, skinless, boneless chicken breasts, or many of the other items in Dillon’s I used to rely on. I’m realizing I’m not much of a cook at all, just someone who didn’t realize how wonderful all the meal supplements and varieties at her fingers were. Plus the fact that to get the things you may need for a meal require trekking up to the pulperia, which they won’t have everything you need, so you go to the next one, and inevitably, some of the produce you so diligently bought will go bad before you can use it. I know I’ll get the hang of it eventually, I just feel a little lost right now. And I know I’m gonna cry the next time I walk into a supermarket in the States.

One little victory I have is learning how to make bean soup here successfully…it consists of cooked red beans, blended up and added to water, tomato, onion and bell pepper slightly sautéed, cream, beaten egg that cooks super fast when it hits the soup, and lime juice. It is absolutely tasty, protein rich, and fairly easy though time consuming to make…I’ll make you some when I come home to visit.

Arrival : October 5
Well, it happened. I finally miss the US. Don’t get me wrong, I have been missing my family and friends and various aspects of my life beforehand, since I stepped on the plane to DC back in May. I’m talking about the US in general, the things we have available, ideals we hold, etc. First, I miss having enough. I struggled with money in college just like most people and was not a wealthy person. But I never felt the tightness of poverty like we feel it here. Simply being able to walk into a store and find everything I wanted and more and probably be able to pay for it as well, is a luxury. I had the option of ordering a pizza if I wanted, and could enjoy lots of little comforts along the way – the soda or coffee when I filled up my gas tank, the night out with friends, the rented movie, the scented candle I picked up at the store, the new book or magazine. Those are not possibilities here, or if they are they are so expensive it is not possible to buy them. Being paid in dollars had an advantage and living in the land of plenty was wonderful. Then there are the attitudes about teaching and learning. Good grief. The differences are stark and frustrating because I can’t figure out how to get from where I am to where they are and back. I find myself letting things just stay the way they are, then realizing my own apathy and floundering to do something about it. There is a struggle to connect the big vision with my everyday here. And my everyday is winning…and this, to me, feels like a failure of the big vision. It’s too big to tackle in one day, but I feel like if I am not continually doing something with the big idea everyday, its never going to get done. In the US, the big vision is always the controller, the pusher behind students, professionals, artists, etc. It’s this bigger idea that I have somewhere I am going…here, that idea of vision is hard to communicate and even less understood. The ideas about equality and equal partnership are still a long way from being developed here. Machismo – nothing I have to say there…maybe in the States the men are just as caught up in women’s looks and have their own closed minded ideas of what we are capable of, but at least they keep it to themselves and may not even let their ideas affect their interaction with us. Here, that is not going to happen for a while. We seriously have a privileged life in the US…I am aware of our many messy and shameful parts as well, especially with the current economic crisis, and who knows what’s going to happen with the presidential race or the war in Iraq. But there are some deep fundamental things about my country that I miss a lot right now. As a person who was secretly disgusted by much of her country, this is a big deal for me to realize I miss living in the US.

Lucha: October 8
When I began this journey, the most obvious thing I was attempting was the Peace Corps. But more apparent and more important to me was the decision to stop living in fear. I’m not talking about the physical reaction of fear to things that are harmful and can be helpful in protecting us. Rather, the fear that stems out of distrust and pains and old wounds…this fear acts as a chain to your soul, keeping you from putting yourself too deep into relationships, drives you to be self-protective and in general can be a hindrance to many of the good things in life. Darwin may have said this was simply my survival instincts kicking in, things that are natural and are necessary to my own well-being. But I know better. I know that what looked like a decision to be serious about my studies was simple fear of being hurt and left behind. That every busy hour I loaded onto myself was done out of fear of failure, fear of not matching up and thus being left behind. I am not proud to say that many of my actions can be traced back to a root fear of abandonment, failure, or rejection. When I decided to join Peace Corps, it was a choice to begin facing these fears, to stop letting these things dictate my life. Only now am I realizing that the PC decision was only the first step inside the door, and this long hallway is filled with some of the oldest and controlling fears in my heart, waiting to be confronted. And good gracious, is it ever uncomfortable. And I don’t want to do it. But I have realized how precious it is to love others and be loved by others….and so I press forward. I’m going to fall a lot, but I feel ready to make my choices, to choose love and gentle openness over fear and closed fists.

1 John 4:18
There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love.

1 Peter 3:6b
You are her (Sarah) daughters if you do what is right and do not give way to fear.

Time Warp: October 10
So I’m here in Granada on an impromptu vacay day, visiting some fellow PCV’s…yes the initial allure did involve the Office. Which brings me to my title. So I get here, all jazzed up to see American TV, ate some delicious pizza and we settled in to watch the show. LOVED it, but here was the weird part…left during a commercial break to get a snack down the street at the pulperia, and had to go to another one. But in my mind, this took 2 minutes, tops. When I came back, the show was OVER! O-V-E-R. And I was absolutely dumbfounded by the difference of time, here and there. When in the states, a half hour is a long time. Here a half hour is next to nothing, easily spent walking to and from a destination, half of a bus ride, etc. It just made me laugh how different my time clock has become since living here.

Wednesday, October 1, 2008



so it's october? you wouldn't believe how time warps between the fog and rain. seriously.

a few thoughts (because i don't have my memory stick that has all my inspirationalish blogs)

-there are these flowers here that sparkle. seriously. little red and white five petaled beauties that just shine brilliantly from their little speckles of gold sparkle.

-on a day that felt so heavy with missing home, i walked into my english evening class to find a student wearing a wichita, ks SURVIVOR t-shirt, complete with tornado graphic and punny sayings. i almost hugged him.

-today, in my second round of trips through managua, i found the grassy corners around the huge, congested round-about were occupied by cows. lots of them.

-yes, i did just spend 30 cords on three packs of gushers...i had been craving them, thinking about asking someone to send them to me, and there they were, tucked into a basket. it was meant to be (even though i kicked myself for spending that much)

-a taxi driver asked if i were french yesterday, but i said no, im from the states...his reply: oh, i assumed you were European because you recognized the Psalm on the radio...americans are more distracted in that aspect, right? i didn't know what to say

-i'm facing my biggest achilles heel: fear - and its exhilirating and exhausting all at once

-i am actually enjoying the rain...?

-the states economic status has me a bit worried...

-who IS this sarah palin lady? one look at her photo in newsweek with the American flag and the following story made me a little nauseated.

-nica time no longer means late to me...simply means im realizing i dont have the time to touch on all the hurts and tears i see

-i LOVE writing letters. seriously.

-the start of something new and beautiful has begun...and i am so excited yet terrified of its end or the discovery of some major flaw.

-i'm really upset to be missing fall. like, hurts my heart sad.

-never realized how much i was attuned to my smell surroundings..i wish so badly i had brought some body spray and scented candles.

-i heart sleeping.

Thursday, August 28, 2008

hellllllllloooo friends

Coke: learning the art of sharing
So, if you hadn’t figured it out yet, Nicaraguans have an obsession with gaseosa (this in itself is funny because it just means gaseous…), which is soda or pop or coke as we call it in various parts of the states. There is the drink of choice, Coca-Cola (yes, they do prefer it to Pepsi here….they are pretty sharp folks), Pepsi and then a variety of Latin American specialties…rojita, a disgustingly sweet bubble gum red drink (which I got to take in a tiny copa for communion last week), marinda, an orange soda, salva cola, a not too shabby knock-off of pepsi and great for when you are counting cordobas, and then the kola shaler, a nica specific drink I have yet to try. All this to say, the primo gaseosa is Coke, and it is not cheap. One two liter costs 25 – 30 cords, when you consider that in a family this will be gone by the end of the meal, it is something that is enjoyed but at a price (a lb of rice is 20 cords, and 1 lb of rice 15, both of which will make a meal). Something I have noticed in all this coke drinking is how you can observe the love between family members and friends by the distribution of Coke. First, all guests get a full glass, no questions asked. That includes the chelita (me) for at least the following several visits after the initial visit. Then come the half full glasses to children, oldest to youngest, and a glass shared between parents. Sometimes there is enough for everyone to enjoy a full glass, but as the amount in the bottle gets lower, you see the glass passed around, making sure that all get to enjoy it. Parents and older siblings always give it up for the younger ones. For example, when I went to visit my training family, I was given a glass, then everyone else received a glass. Then the second round began, myself and the older brother and the nephew getting half-portions. The youngest sister woke up from a nap and was sad to see the coke gone…and here’s when I got my first “I’ve integrated” moment…I offered the rest of mine to Athzyris and she accepted. It seems so simple, but in observing the ways these people live their lives for the past three and a half months, I was able to walk alongside them in a way that made sense. And for me, who feels lost 90 percent of the time, that was really cool.

[I realize this is only one frame of the nica relationship with coke, so please don’t go away from here thinking all nicas have this art of sharing coke…just something neat I’ve noticed about a family I’m close with…but for real, most of them love coke…I’ve been told “sos nica![you’re nica!]” by some of my friends here because of how much I love soda.]

Anda Por Las Aguacates: a look into how I might be crazy
So, when the 400 some students I happen to encounter in a given week realize I’m a real person with a family and what not [this does not happen often], they get this wide-eyed look. They ask, is your family here with you? Are you married? Do you have kids? And when the answer to all of these is no, and they realize I’m here solita [alone], they get this haunted look and ask WHY. And some days, I do not have an answer. The best part of this job is realizing how the only thing that matters is people and the relationships you can have with them…but also the hardest, because it makes me that much more aware of what I left in Kansas [which, by the way, being from Kansas is another reason I’m not yet “real” to these kids…most haven’t a clue where that is, nor can they picture it.] An utterly amazing and authentic community that made me feel like I was walking in the realest reality possible, a family that I am learning to love more fiercely than ever before, work that made me feel satisfied and purposeful, and surroundings that invoked imagination, enjoyment and creativity. When I consider all this, I end up asking myself the same question as my students. Why? I don’t really know. I mean, I have the answer that I know is true – I took this journey because I needed to, for a number of reasons, and I felt God calling me to walk this way. But it’s not something that yet resonates through every fiber of my being…it’s kind of like answering 27 to what is the most fulfilling part of life. It just doesn’t quite make sense. [Who knows, maybe 27 IS the most fulfilling part of life…any one good with numbers out there?]

Not really a point to all this, except to say that in this part of the journey, I feel good about being here but I really have no clue as to how it all fits into the bigger picture. And mostly, I don’t look into tomorrow if I can help it…I just do today, because that is what I have and the only thing I can imagine dealing with. It’s a way of living I often strove for in the states but to actually be walking it out is not as satisfying or dreamy as I imagined. I guess most things are never really as luminous as we imagine…but I am thankful to be realizing this lifestyle. Even if it’s not what I thought.

Real: a missing component
Reality…think Matrix. Or Kingdom of God. Or imaginary numbers. This concept of realities intangible in some aspects and yet no less real. This gives me comfort, because here, in El Crucero, I am not a tangible reality yet. I know that sounds silly, but let me try to explain. Have you ever had a foreign exchange student friend? Did you ever stop to consider what they ate for lunch and if that was what they usually at back home? Or did you ever wonder what their nightly routine was at home, and how it might be different in the States? What about the quirks in conversations they had in their native language that are largely absent in a second? I am convinced that without hearing a person speak in their native tongue and understanding them in that language, it is impossible to fully know them. There are many a Nica here that speak English, but it is only when they speak Spanish that I see who they really are…and they are fluent speakers [this is also not even touching on the fact that a second language is part of you, but that is for another post]. All that to say, the me who is “me”, goes unrecognized and unsought out for the most part…not because Nica’s are not kind and inviting people (because they most certainly are) but because there is still this foreignness…this otherness that leaves one unknown for a while. I know that it won’t always be like this, but it is rather strange to realize how long the process of becoming these peoples’ friend will be. And that to them “friend” might mean something entirely different than to me. Strange and isolating at times, but at the same time, making me all that much more grateful for the people here that I do feel like I connect with and those back home I have gotten to keep close to my side.

Trends: a look at Nica fashion
Things you can expect to see regularly here in Nicaragua:
- Well-makeuped women and girls out in public, always
- These same women and girls in the most unkempt wear and hair when cleaning or lounging around the house  [I love this trend]
- Umbrellas in the sun – no one here wants to be tanner…it is seen as much more attractive to be lighter skinned [which, yes, leads to racism]
- Earrings and high heels are a must, even if its raining and even if you have no where to go
- Small hand towels or handkerchiefs – for wiping off sweat, dripping refrescos, dripping groceries, rainwater from the downpour you just walked through, etc
- Cell phones…and a growing number of mp3 player earbuds
- Frilly aprons filled with bills of the many, many vendors of bread, candy, corn, gum, etc. If she’s wearing something frilly and pastel around her waist, you can buy something from her, guaranteed. You will NOT see men wearing these, obviously.
- Plastic woven bags called sacos, both in bright stripes and plain white
- 10 of the same vendor on whatever street or block, sometimes situated in front of each other (be it a general food shop, a bread shop, a snack vendor, an ice cream vendor, etc)
- Hollering men hanging out of buses inviting people to get a ride to “mnowua” [Managua] “nundiemay” [Nandaime] “riyamba” [Diriamba], etc
- Heaps of trash
- Tight, tight jeans
- Men carrying 2 ft long machetes, and no one acting fearful of said men
- Massive amounts of gel in the hair of men from the ages of 12 to 30
- Messenger bags = student. Hardly anyone uses an actual backpack, and if they do, its simple and worn on one side to the front usually
- Socks and sandals, often flip-flops
- Men sitting on corners
- Plastic hair clips – few women wear their hair “suelto”…loose. Too hot, too windy and too much of a hassle.
- Advertisements with people who are white. Lots of them.
- Seven words for the same thing, and seven meanings for one word
- Dramatic gestures for the smallest thing, yet the tiniest nose twitch to let you know they don’t understand.
- Rice. Lots of rice. Complete with a conversation about how the price of rice is ridiculous, which leads to all prices, which leads to discussing the poverty and difficulties these people face everyday. Yet you will almost always be offered something to eat, and you should always accept.
- Stark realities: MetroCenter in Managua that looks just like many a nice shopping mall in the states, and the barefoot 5 year old at the next corner, extending his dirty hand from his torn t-shirt to ask you for a cordoba because his family sent him out there to get money.
- Skinny, skinny animals
- Floors being swept and mopped, multiple times a day
- Second hand vehicles and buses in various states of disrepair and yet full of people, usually beyond capacity
- And my personal “favorite”: the look that says, you are not like me…all I can say about that is I will have so much more empathy for immigrants and foreign exchange students when I return.

Profe: a missing piece
A lot of students, ok almost all, do not call me Profe. They call me Sarah, and they use the vos form with me. At first, I didn’t think twice about this. But I am realizing that what this means is I am not seen as a teacher to them. And this is a problem. Without this title, the authority that comes with it and the ability to get things done in the classroom, I have had to fight to do a lot of things with them. It also does not help that I have a large number of students, two days with each school a week and little time outside of class to study their names. So, this begins my nightly study of photos and name lists I made and ignoring the calls of “Sarah!!” until they change it to Profe or teacher. It seems so silly, but I’m realizing it’s a big deal and will make or break the rest of this year…especially with my 14 and 15 year old first year boys.

Addendum: A lot of this changed as I taught alone most of today due to my teacher having impromptu meetings with the director about last week’s field trip.

Sliced through: Rilke
I am praying again, Awesome One.

You hear me again, as words
From the depths of me
Rush toward you in the wind.

I’ve been scattered in pieces,
Torn by conflict,
Mocked by laughter,
Washed down in drink.

In alleyways I sweep myself up
Out of garbage and broken glass
With my half-mouth I stammer you,
Who are eternal in your symmetry.
I lift to you my half-hands
In wordless beseeching, that I may find again
The eyes with which I once beheld you.

I am a house gutted by fire
Where only the guilty sometimes sleep
Before the punishment that devours them
Hounds them out into the open.

I am a city by the sea
Sinking into a toxix tide.
I am strange to myself, as though someone unknown
Has poisoned my mother as she carried me,

It’s here in all the pieces of my shame
That now I find myself again.
I yearn to belong to something, to be contained
In an all-embracing mind that sees me
As a single thing.
I yearn to be held
In the great hands of your heart-
Oh let them take me now.

Into them I place these fragments, my life,
And you, God – spend them however you want.

The Book of Pilgrimage in the Book of Hours, Number 2

…I’m the one who’s been asking you-
It hurts to ask – Who are you?
I am orphaned
Each time the sun goes down.
I can feel cast out from everything
And even churches look like prisons.

That’s when I want you –
You knower of my emptiness,
You unspeaking partner to my sorrow-
That’s when I need you, God, like food…

Book of Pilgrimage, excerpt from #3

…If we surrendered to the earth’s intelligence
We could rise up rooted, like trees.

Instead we entangle ourselves
in knots of our own making
And struggle, lonely and confused.

This is what the things can teach us;
To fall,
Patiently to trust our heaviness,
Even a bird has to do that
Before he can fly.

You too will find your strength.
We who must live in this time
Cannot imagine how strong you will become –
How strange, how surprising,
Yet familiar as yesterday.

We will sense you
Like a fragrance from a nearby garden
And watch you move through our days
Like a shaft of sunlight in a sickroom.
We will not be herded into churches,
For you are not made by the crowd,
You who meet us in our solitude.

We are cradled close in your hands –
And flung lavishly forth.

Book of Pilgrimage, #26

Reflection: one liners.

I’ve decided that my work here is only worth as much as I value the people I’m working with.

Small Things
The smallest things can cause a swell of gratitude in my heart these days. Today, it was the 15 minute respite from the rain that allowed me to catch a moto taxi to school without getting soaked. As I was waiting for said taxi, I saw the most brilliant full color rainbow and strains of Bob Marley’s “everything’s gonna be alright” began to echo in my mind. It was a good moment.

Friday, August 15, 2008


hey mailing address...i cant change the side bar yet, but its coming. and worthwhile posts too.

sarah ternes, pcv
apartado postal, 0141
jinotepe, carazo

love love.

Friday, August 1, 2008

Volando: a few bits and pieces

Has it really been this long? Sorry guys. It has been a bit crazy here in Nicaragua for me…nothing drastic, don’t worry…just life here has been happening too quickly to record it accurately in any sort of form. I’m also bad at the “this is what I did today” as it usually feels rote and dull when I do so. So of course, I am not about to start now. Rather, I’ve tried to capture some moments in the past few weeks that have been
particularly noteworthy. I hope you enjoy.

Here We Go: time to transition. Again.
I type this to you dear reader from the frigid El Crucero…my necio neighbor the fog has not yet left and won’t for a while, though this time around I’m feeling less annoyed by him. Still not fun to shower, but I did buy some cute closed toe shoes today. Always about perspective. To be painfully honest, I did not want to come here. There were so many unknowns overshadowing the good things I had encountered in El Crucero, and so many known goods that I was leaving behind in Santa Teresa. It became this teetering balance of transition, which was not helped as I talked to my peers and staff members who encouraged me to see if my situation was really permanent. What ensued threatened to push me off my feet, challenging what little fortitude I had in myself and bringing forth the doubts and fears that seem to always surface when you are the most vulnerable. I would sit on my bed beneath that mosquito net and just cry, feeling so very certain that I had made a very large error in coming to PC, which of course did not help any of the doubts/fears/etc. But somewhere in the middle of it all, those moments that I just stared at anything remotely familiar with eyes of detachment, that I felt the very kernel of my soul say stay. Calm down. Wait. Wait! It is just about to come, the dawning of that new day, the spilling of light into the dark crevices. [To which I, of course, cynically retorted that El Crucero doesn’t get that much light!]But I would consider that voice and decide to eat a bonbon sucker (or 5) and continue waiting. And you know what? As I think about the 20 some adults that just came to my community class, the American girl who will be staying here for a year working with one of my schools, my various friends that I have made in country, both American and Nicaraguan, and just the fact that I am getting to start what I signed up to do, I can say that indeed the light is cresting and with it comes the hope. Here’s to putting one step in front of the other.

Something new I’m learning about myself is my great enjoyment of sensory details. A pleasant smell, the perfect alignment of lines, a savory bite. Part of the change here is losing the opportunities to enjoy certain sensory experiences and trying to learn how to accommodate others. For example, the market smell is the mix between freshness and rot that makes my stomach hurt, while the taste and feel of a bonbon sucker pressed against my cheek has the ability to smooth over frazzled nerves. But this past weekend I experienced wave after wave of sensory experiences to the point of exhaustion. It all began when I went with three other PC ladies to this restaurant called Ola Verde in Managua. This place is a small gem of organic gourmet, two things I was certain did not exist here in Nicaragua. You first walk into a cool room that is filled with the scent of basil and olive oil, two things that begin to appease the palate before you taste them. We ordered hummus to start, with warm whole wheat [whole wheat!!] pita and carrot sticks. Oh my gosh. I can’t even express just how pleasing that first bite was, the flavors and textures absolutely perfect on my tongue. This was followed up by a homemade tomato soup rich in basil and tomatillo, with a pinch of mozzarella, whole wheat panini with roasted vegetables, chicken and mozzarella, and to finish, this succulent carrot cake with a cup of GOOD coffee. Oh my. We sat there for over three hours, discussing life of course, but also just going on and on about how amazing each part was. [So good was this place that I ate there for three more meals over my time in Managua]. And all that was just the beginning . Friday night we went to a restaurant called Scampis to celebrate our official status of volunteers. Fresh marinara pasta loaded up with sautéed veggies, Jose Cuervo Especial in a salt-encrusted shot glass and hours of dancing with all my PC buddies – even the sensation of the rising blisters on my sandaled feet was enjoyed simply because of how wonderful everything else was going. And then there was the hot water…that was sheer bliss.

In the midst of all this pleasure, I found myself thinking about fasting. It’s been something that I’ve wrestled with in the past, the why and the how, and always have ended up feeling like I misunderstood. But after an involuntary fasting of 3 months, I was surprised by how delighted I was at the littlest thing. Perhaps fasting isn’t so much about bearing through the discomfort but about the renewed enjoyment, and thus thanksgiving, that follows. Just a thought.


So I’m a professional planner. I really love it, take great pleasure in it, spend a fair amount of time on it - in fact, it borders on being a serious problem. I purposely left my dayplanner agenda at home in an effort to release some of the control. And yet I realized today that I had been totally planning out my time here and depending on my own resources and understandings to get me through. It’s why El Crucero/Santa Teresa stuff upset my equilibrium so much – to me, it didn’t make any sense at all and thus could not work. And yet I remembered that 1: it’s ok to be blind and 2: He still knows how to and is actively leading the blind. So instead of pretending I see better than I do, I’ll remember that my path is taken care of. And reduce my list making to once a week. [Confession: I just made my Nica notebook into a makeshift planner. Some things are just inherent!!!]

BonBons: a growing addiction.
I realized in revising my posts that I have mentioned these beloved suckers at least 3 times, so I’ve decided to explain to you my newfound coping mechanism. At the very basic level, it is a physical coping mechanism for dealing with increased stress I was experiencing – with the lack of time to run, added stressors and emotions, the need to expel this energy was satisfied by eating these suckers. They are this line of gum-filled suckers from a company called Colombiana. This of course started all sorts of funny jokes about me getting my “fix” from the Colombians…paired with a Coke, my training buddies would chide me for coke habit, both in drink and supposed ingredients in the suckers. [I AM NOT DOING DRUGS]. Now these are not your average suckers. Blow Pops are good, obviously, but these suckers have unique flavors, like my personal favorite – mango, cool which is a minty sugary mix, atomic, which is just a sweet almost berryish sucker that has small balls of spun sugar, transfer which is not a distinct flavor but has the same balls that atomic does but is also blue on the outside, staining your teeth and tongue. There are a ton of others, including strawberry yogurt, but these are the ones I have played around with the most. The best part is that these suckers are just a cord, and though they only last about 15 minutes max, I feel good about spending 1 cord for 15 minutes of satisfaction. Some days I made it into the 3 or 4 range, and there was the week that I bought a nine pack of crackers, bag of 25 bonbons and innumerable cokes…[this combination is also very satisfying…the coke through a straw, the club social crackers broken into pieces and the bonbon finishing it all off]. If you come to visit, I will make sure you get to find your favorite bonbon sucker. The confusing part is there is also another chocolate-y candy called bonbons, but I haven’t yet tried those…they are kind of expensive [5 cords for one little bite!...which is only like a quarter, but still…that’s FIVE bonbon suckers].

Ok, go ahead. Make fun all you want. I am fully aware that this is ridiculous, but here we are. 

If I’m Brave: not as it seems
I’ve been told by many a person how brave I am for doing this…for coming to PC and taking this journey. I am always surprised by this compliment…because it simply isn’t true. If you knew how scared I am half the time, how often I don’t want to do it, how many times I complain or whine inside myself, the innumerable times I’ve thought about quitting or wondering why I’m here….you would not call me brave. But that’s the coolest part, I’m realizing. If I was brave, I wouldn’t need the Lord to walk this out with me…but the reality is that everyday I realize how much I need His help and guidance, His love and company, His sheer strength. And even greater than that is realizing how freely available it is to me, and how willingly He offers it up. I am not brave, my friends. But I am well-loved and well-taken care of by Someone who is. If you find yourself thinking, I could never do that, that person is more _________ than me….just stop and remember that you have a Father who has more than you’ll ever need to do whatever you are dreaming. Just be available and take the first step – you’ll be amazed at how swiftly He begins to lead you through it.

“Teach me how to hunger, cus I don’t know the words yet…” – Bethany Dillon.

Development: different
What if the best thing we could offer had nothing to do with what we knew or possessed and everything to do with seeing what a person already has and drawing that out of them? I’m finding that anything that succeeds here as far as development goes will come from the hands, minds and hearts of Nicaraguans…and all the better for it. As Lao Tzu said, the best leaders leave their people looking at a finished work and saying look at what WE have accomplished. Absolutely.

“Haji Ali taught me to share three cups of tea, to slow down and make building relationships as important as building projects. He taught me that I had more to learn from the people I work with than I could ever hope to teach them.” – Greg Mortenson, Three Cups of Tea

I really believe that if we can get a hold of that, we actually will make a difference…and the best part is that it won’t be about the difference we made but the lives we got to share in.

Almost Famous
Part of the closing ceremony to becoming a volunteer includes a trainee giving a speech after everyone has sworn in as official volunteers. My fellow trainees chose me, which was really surprising and humbling. And slightly terrifying. I spent two nights working alongside the other trainees chosen to speak in Managua trying to put it all together. It went really well, even though I had to consciously make myself stand still during it – I was so nervous! Everyone was really gracious and said they really enjoyed it, which was sooo encouraging. I also got interviewed by channel 11 here! At the end of the day, I couldn’t believe the things I got to take part in – speaking in Spanish to a number of people and cameras, swearing in to my two years here in Nicaragua, just all the journey I’ve taken so far…it is so awesome to realize I’m actually doing something I dreamed about, something that always seemed so far away and here I am, living it out. Absolutely amazing.

Here is the speech in Spanish, and then in English [which will be fluffed up a bit as this is what I would have said had I such fluidity with the language]. You can also find the interview chunk I was a part of on youtube by searching Cuerpo de Paz – the still is a photo our director George, an older man with white hair and glasses dressed in a suit at a podium. It’s really short, my part, but still freaking awesome…even with my messy Spanish. 

In Spanish:
Buenas dias, representante de MINED Central, Ivett Soza, Señor Embajador de los Estados Unidos de América Paul Trivelli, Director Nacional de Cuerpo de Paz Señor George Baldino, personal de Cuerpo de Paz, familias anfitrionas, y Voluntarios, invitados especiales. Mi nombre es Sarah, voluntaria del programa de TEFL y en presentación de nuestro grupo quisiera expresarle algunas reflexiones y emociones después de finalizado el programa de entrenamiento.

Iniciamos nuestra aventure en Cuerpo de Paz porque habíamos visto algo lindo en la visión de este organismo. Como un mural, el Cuerpo de Paz nos invitaba a venir y mirarlo. Empezamos una exploración de esa vista exótica. Pero mientras la abordábamos durante el entrenamiento nos dimos cuenta que el mural no era una pintura sino que en realidad era un mosaico. Nos dimos cuenta que habían partes sin repellar y borronosas. No era como lo habíamos pensado. Para nosotros, estas partes fueron las enfermedades que tuvimos, las dificultades en el trabajo, los dias cuando nos sentiamos perdidos o ansiosos y los momentos cuando perdiamos la confianza en nosotros mismos. Pero, la parte bellisima es que las partes imperfectas son las que forman el mosaico, es decir las que le dan su originalidad y belleza. Los mismo pasa con nosotros. Cada uno de ustedes llevan dentro de su alma lo que necesitan para ser parte de ese mosaico. Quisiera ejemplifica lo anterior describiendo las cualidades de los voluntarios de TEFL.

Scott: Estas motivado y listo para hacer cualquier tarea que el servicio te mande.
Erin: Sos pragmática y tranquila. Tenes la paciencia para cumplir tu trabajo
Shyra: Tenes la habilidad de adaptarte a cualquier situación que vas a encontrar.
Steph: Estas llena de pasión y el fuego que es necesario para aguantar.
Liz: Ves la realidad aquí y con ese conocimiento podes hacer un cambio en la gente
que va a durar.
Mateo: Tenes el carino que los jóvenes aquí necesitan. Podes usarlo para darles
confianza a si mismos.
John: Sos un recurso rico para los maestros y tenes la habilidad de conectarlos entre si
con tu humor y amistad.
Ryan: Siempre te conectas con los jóvenes y con eso creo que vas a hacer la diferencia
en sus vidas.
Elizabeth: Siempre estas lista para aprender cualquier cosa que necesitas para ser un
recurso a los maestros.
Lara: Sos dedicada y flexible. Ves lo que tenes que hacer y estas lista para hacerlo. La
gente puede confiar en ti.
Adam: Sos tranquilo y paciente. Estas preparado para oír las necesidades de la gente y
para apoyarles a realizarlas.
Diane: Tenes la creatividad y podes usarla para hacer un cambio en los jóvenes de
Jen: Tu amor por el baile va a crear una oportunidad para las chavalas con las que
ellas pueden tener mas confianza y amistades.
Allie: Tu experiencia en la enseñanza va a darles a los maestros un inmenso recurso
que ellos pueden aprovechar con gusto.
Danica: Tu gentileza va a invitar a las mujeres y las muchachas a venir y a aprender
como pueden vivir con la misma gentileza.
Maria: Tu experiencia con el Cuerpo de Paz y la enseñanza de Ingles nos da un recurso
como ningún otro. Todos nosotros, nicaragüense y estadounidense, vamos a
Joanna: Tu amistad y disponibilidad va a unir a muchas personas para realizar algo
Sonia: Ves dentro de cada persona que conocistes y las reúnes en cualquier situación
que están.
Anjie: Tenes la habilidad de vivir al lado de esta gente, lo que va a servirles mucho.

Por todo esto, y lo mucho que falta por decirles, les agradezco por ser quienes son y les aliento en su servicio, ya que sin ustedes, no seriamos el mosaico mas completo. También, quisiera agradecerles a la gerente y al personal de Cuerpo de Paz porque ustedes son las artistas que nos pusieron en el mosaico entero. Ustedes saben adonde y como ponernos para que seamos lo mejor. Les quisiera agradecer a la gente de Nicaragua porque nos han dado el espacio y los materiales para realizar este mosaico de desarrollo y cultura. Nos han recibido y nos han hecho sentir bienvenidos en su pais y en sus familias. Por eso yo se que estamos en deuda con ustedes. Al final, cuando la vida se sienta dura e imposible, recuerden que el concreto que pone juntos las piezas en el mosaico tiene que ponerse duro para terminar el trabajo. Entonces, no permitan las dificultades nos rompan. Mas bien que unámonos para ser fuertes y maravillosas. Juntos seremos así.

In English:
Good morning and welcome to the representative of MINED Central Ivett Soza, Mr Embassador of the United States of America, Paul Trivelli, the National Director of Peace Corps Nicaragua Mr. George Baldino, the staff of Peace Corps Nicaragua, host families and volunteers, our special guests. My name is Sarah, volunteer with the TEFL program and to present our group, I want to express some reflections and emotions after finishing our training programming.

We began our adventure with the Peace Corps because we had seen something beautiful in the vision of this organization. Like a mural, Peace Corps invited us to come and see. We began exploring this new and exotic view. But as we began to approach this vision during training, we realized that it was more of a mosaic than a mural. There were parts that were broken or irregular. We realized there were parts that were not at all attractive within this work of art. It was not like we had first thought or perceived. For us, these rough parts were the sicknesses we got, the hardships we experienced in our jobs, the days that we felt lost or anxious, and the moments when we lost confidence in ourselves. But, the beautiful part is that the imperfections are those that make the mosaic – that without these irregularities and ugly parts, the mosaic would not be the original beauty that we see. This is the same that happens with us. The times that have been the most difficult have also been the ones that made us ready to be here today. Each one of you carries within your soul what you need to become a part of this mosaic that is Peace Corps. I want to explain this idea by describing the qualities within each of my TEFL friends…I think you will also agree that they are definitely Peace Corps mosaic material.
Scott: You are so ready and motivated to do whatever challenge comes your way –
the most adventurous of us all and always ready to learn something new. I
have no doubt you will have an amazing service.
Erin: You are so practical and level-headed. You have the patience needed to
complete your service perfectly. I always admired how you handled the
number of uncomfortable situations thrown at you during training and I have no doubt you will find the tools you need to endure the rest of your two years.
Shyra: You have the ability to adapt yourself to whatever situation you encounter.
This diversity will help you deal with the various counterparts you may have
and any number of issues that might arise.
Steph: You, my dear training buddy, are full of the passion and fire necessary to deal
with all that comes with the PC service. I know that you have more than
enough to offer to the people of Nicaragua and I am expecting to see such a rich growth during your service – not just within yourself but the many people you will work alongside.
Liz: You see the stark reality that the Nicaragua people face and yet with this
knowledge I know you will be able to do what is needed to begin changing it.
You will not wilt in the face of despair but rather will be the one that brings hope to those who so desperately need it. I know that you are going to bring about a change that will last.
Matt: You have a kindness that the youth of Nicaragua crave. I know that you will
find it useful in your friendships here in Nicaragua and it will be something
that will draw youth and adults alike into a positive thing that can bring them
more self confidence and direction.
John: You are such an amazing resource for the teachers here and I know that with
your stellar wit and ability to connect to people you will bring many of them
together, not only to improve their teaching skills but to see them blossom
within the new relationships they will encounter through your presence in
their town.
Ryan: It is not surprising that you got yourself injured playing with some Nicaraguan
youth. You have this ability to connect with whichever youth you encounter
and this will be invaluable during your service. You have the opportunity and
ability to become a mentor that these youth have wanted for some time.
Elizabeth: You are always so eager to learn new things and open to the ideas around
you. This willingness to learn will ensure that not only will you become an
amazing resource to those you work with but that you will also be more
successful, as this attitude enables people to work more closely and more
openly with you. You are going to be amazing in Chinandega.
Lara: You are so dedicated and flexible, always ready to help those around you. You
see what you have to do here and you are ready to do it, regardless of the
circumstances. The people of Nicaragua are going to be able to trust you,
which will be invaluable in your development work.
Adam: You are so chill and patient. With this calmness and steadiness, you are more
than ready to become a part of these people’s lives, listening to them and
helping them find what they need to make things happen for the positive
growth in their lives.
Diane: You are such a creative and entertaining person. I know that you will be able
to use this unique way of looking at things to stimulate the youth of Granada
in a way that will help them create a positive change in their lives. You see the things no one else does, which can lead to amazing results.
Jen: Your love for dance is going to open doors to the young women of your
town, with which they will be able to grow in their self-confidence and find
friendships that will impact their lives in a positive way.
Allie: Your experience in teaching is going to give an immense resource to the
teachers you will encounter, which will invite them to take full advantage of it.
You are going to be able to support and improve so many things within your
school and the long-term impact is going to be amazing.
Danica: Your gentleness and the way you are so kind to each person you meet is
going to invite the women of your community to learn how to live with this
same kindness and yet not lose the strength within themselves. You will be
able to teach them how to care deeply yet stand firm, which will empower
these women to become fuller versions of themselves.
Maria: Your vast experience with the Peace Corps and the teaching of English gives us
a resource like none other. You will be able to help us do our jobs so much
better, not to mention all the teachers you will be able to help in Carazo.
Joanna: Your friendship and simple availability to whoever is going to unite any
number of people to make something fantastic happen. Your artistic flair and
ability to think outside the box is going to be an amazing resource to the
people of the Isla.
Sonia: You have the ability to see inside people and meet them where there are, no
matter the circumstances. This will make all the difference within the
friendships you form over the next two years and may be just the support
some Nicas need to improve their lives.
Anjie: You have such a beautiful spirit and the unique ability to live right alongside
this people. This is going to serve them so well, just having that person who
wants to be right in there with them while connecting them to the things they
need to pull themselves out of some of the hardships they face.

For all of this, and all that I failed to mention, I thank you guys for being who you are and I encourage you in your service, because without each of you, we couldn’t be the most complete mosaic possible. I also want to thank the staff of Peace Corps because you all are like the artists who have placed us within the larger PC mosaic. You know where and how to place us so that we can be the best possible mosaic, fitting in just exactly with the rest of PC Nica and PC global. I want to thank the people of Nicaragua because you have given us the space and materials to make this mosaic of culture and development. You have received us and made us feel welcome in your country and your families. For this, I know we are in debt to you.

All this to say, when life starts to feel hard or impossible, remember that the concrete holding the pieces together in the mosaic has to become hard to finish the mosaic. So when the hardening begins in your service, don’t let it break us apart. Rather, let it draw you back into us to become strong and marvelous. Together, we will become part of the rich history that is Peace Corps and maybe our stories will invite someone else to come and see.

Sunday, July 6, 2008

around the world and back

29 de Junio: FLOHA
There is really nothing that scares me more than the feeling that I am falling apart. You know, when your being feels disconnected and blinded, unable to make sense of the world around you and thus impairing your choices, your words, your thoughts. Unfortunately, this is a feeling I am experiencing a lot here. For example, with the Spanish language; at times, it all flows together and I feel able to use it to communicate. But a majority of the time it’s as if the words fall apart in my mouth or dissolve on their way to my ears. Other times it’s the choices I make that look nothing like what I would do in the States. And without explanation. It’s a terrifying sensation to feel strange to oneself, as if you were foreign and unknown within. I don’t really know how to come to terms with it or even what it all means. The only thing I am clinging to is that it will eventually come together, and in the meantime, He is really good at leading the blind. I’m learning to trust Him.

I found a slice of comfort: this adorable coffee shop in the nearby large city. Teeny tiny but has nice tables to sit at and a real espresso machine. If I close my eyes, I can picture the Roasterie, with its swanky dark-stained tables and hissing clover machine in the background, sufjan floating through the notes of coffee. As I sipped my Styrofoam cup of cinnamon latte [which I will NOT throw on the ground] and walked towards my bus stop, I took joy that even when so much feels foreign, I can find pockets of familiarity.

The clouds drift lazily across the rolling green carpet surrounding my new home. El Crucero, at 945 km above sea level, mimics a cloud forest, bringing a strong chill to the air and making the coffee crop rather successful. I will be living with a family here for 6 weeks starting July 26th, and then after that, who knows. I will work with two small urban schools, one of which is inviting me to work with the elementary school teacher! There is also an orphanage that would like English classes. It feels refreshing to know that my real work here will begin soon. Right now my life feels slightly false, as I am involved in projects that are meant to train and thus require an abrupt end. So these youth that I am getting to know and just beginning to see their hearts will no longer be a part of my daily life. Part of me aches for them, as this has occurred many times before and will continue for many more as Santa Teresa remains a training town. My hope is that these young women will resist the downward pull of the youth culture here and become leaders for the next set of youth. I still hope to return at least once a month to maintain contact with my Institute here, as they are so eager to work with Cuerpo de Paz. It’s not much, but I look forward to continuing some of the things I’ve started here. Sustainable development is much more complex when it involves honey-colored eyes, weathered hands and dusty feet. All the textbook definitions and programmatic approaches don’t directly connect to the actual people receiving/participating in the development. Herein lays my role – to translate between the two and walk this out with my neighbors.

MI SOL 30 de Junio
Eres el regalo que nunca pedi
La porcion de cielo que no mereci
Todos mis senelos sean cumplido en ti
Y no quiero perderte, no lo quiero asi
Te deje tan solo que me senti, sin ti
Y no quiero de nuevo estar asi, asi
Tomame en tus brazos soy parte te di
Soy parte de ti

Eres mi sol, luz color y vida para mi
Eres tu mi sol, estrella que a mi vida sustento
Eres tu mi sol

Lo que quiero ahora es perderme en ti
Y ser envuelta en todo lo que eres tu
Y ser envuelta en todo lo que eres tu
Te deje tan solo que me senti sin ti
Y no quiero de nuevo estar asi asi
Tomame en tus brazos soy parte de ti,
Soy parte de ti

CORO (2x)

Eres el regalo que nunca pedi
La porcion de cielo que no mereci

This is a beautiful song by two sisters from Mexico, Jessy y Joy. It has uplifted me a lot lately, though a love song to a man, it reminds me of the Great Lover. I’ll try to translate it below, but it really is most captivating in Spanish. Search it on youtube.

You are the gift I didn’t ask for
The part of heaven I didn’t deserve
All of my dreams are complete in you
And I don’t want to lose you, I don’t want it like that
I left you so alone, the way I felt without you
And I don’t want to be that way again
Take me in your arms, I am part of you
I am part of you

You are my sun, light, color and life for me
You are my sun, the star that sustains my life
You are my sun

What I want right now is to lose myself in you
And be surrounded by all that is you
And be surrounded by all that is you
I left you so alone, the way I felt without you
And I don’t want to be that way again
Take me in your arms, I am part of you
I am part of you

You are my sun, light, color and life for me
You are my sun, the star that sustains my life
You are my sun

You are the gift I didn’t ask for
The portion of heaven I didn’t deserve.

Fog is going to be my daily companion until November or December. You wake up to his clammy fingers reaching through the windows, nipping your shoulders while you hurriedly shower and kissing your face as you wait for the mototaxi. He finally gives it a rest around midmorning but is wide awake around 5 o clock, promising to obscure your view of the lush landscape until tomorrow. I was not happy about his presence when I arrived last night to El Crucero, nor did I appreciate his clinginess as I went about my day, chilling my fingers and bared toes [because silly me, I didn’t bring clothing for wet 60 degree temperatures]. However, as we were riding back through the valley with the Ministry of Health driver, I started thinking back on the post I made a few days ago, the uncomfortability and scariness of feeling unknown to oneself. The sensation that hits me so often is one of fogginess and I’ve begun resenting it, even more so now that it is manifested in my physical surroundings. Yet as I was thinking about all this, I was admiring the gorgeous landscape I get to inhabit for two years. The calm air and freshness of it all, and how, come summertime, this will be the place to be, when the fog leaves and allows the land to present herself. In the same way, I feel like this is what is happening to me. It’s not that I’m losing myself, but rather finding this part of myself that lay dormant in my American culture. There was always this haunting feeling when I worked with Hispanic people or spoke in Spanish and then returned to middle-class white America, as if I was taking this fresh green sprout in my soul and closing if off in a musty closet [not that middle-class white America is musty...]. My most beautiful dream – was in Spanish. SO here I am, living amongst the petals of this language and realizing that this foreignness is not a loss but rather a gain. It’s rather odd to be aware of this kind of transformation, kind of like essence growing pains. But I’m learning to enjoy it, and am excited to see what this fuller version of myself looks like in the end.

Monday, June 16, 2008


Correr: the 52 km
Kilometer 52 outside of Santa Teresa makes itself known quietly, a simple wooden stake standing ajar amidst the weeds, flaking red paint proclaiming its name. This marker serves as a bus stop, a resting place for birds, the occasional stray marking post, tired campesino’s elbow rest, and housing for any number of insects. But for me, it calls my mind back from the clouds to the pavement under my feet. At km 52, I reign my wandering thoughts back in from whatever mix of Spanish and English they were rolling around in and begin my jog back into town. Here I push the English aside, and intentionally line up my Spanish, massaging those parts that are tired and weary, stretching myself internally just as my external self is doing. This process is a long one, a sometimes draining effort. But as I make my jogs through the beautiful landscape of my new home, I at least feel like I am actively participating in the rite of passage I have entered. As I partner with my circumstances and realities of this path, I find myself breathing rhythmically, trusting that though this might pain me now, I know that it will be stronger in the future, when I need it to be.

Whistle While You Work
Here in Nicaragua, there is an amazing array of whistles. As someone who cannot whistle very loud, if at all, I am constantly fascinated by these sounds wailing through the air. There is the hello friend, usually passed between males walking on the street or the money collectors/drivers of the buses as they fly by each other on the highways. There is the annoyed whistle, hissing across the lips of the person irritated, usually by bad driving or behavior. Another common one serves to catch a person’s attention in order to direct their attention elsewhere. This one sounds a lot like the hello friend whistle but has a distinct purpose. And of course, there is the “hey sexy lady, check you out” – the wolf whistle. This is also very common unfortunately, but I haven’t been too bothered by it yet. And it’s done universally to chelas and morenas alike, but tends to be directed towards foreigners a lot, since we stick out. I’m sure there are a lot more types with different purposes, but these are the ones I have observed so far.

Diet Changes
What a white bread, white rice, beans, 3 vegetables/fruits, 1 meat, and coke daily diet will get you: pants that have to be taken in by your awesome Nica mama and a regular date with Metamucil’s Nica cousin, Mugasen. Como es la vida.

San Antonio
How do Nicas celebrate the patron saint of marriage? By sloughing off the branches, leaves and bark of a really tall tree, tying some bags with hygiene products, money and liquor at the very top, greasing it up with mud/oil and having 6-10 wiry Nica men climb up each other while the town looks in. Add in some loud fireworks, torritos that shoot sparks all over as a kid runs it down the street chasing people, and some cumbia music that the drunks dance-fight to, and you’ve got the San Antonio Festival. It was so fun to see such a different approach to a holiday, and though I don’t know how any of our activities really honored this saint, whom I had never heard of, it was a perfect way to spend my Friday evening. Just sitting and chatting with my two sisters, my nephew and my cousin, I felt like I was where I was supposed to be. I am so looking forward to digging into my community at whatever site I end up at.

Monday, June 2, 2008

dos lados

28 de Mayo Lo extrano

It is amusing to me the various things I miss. The obvious ones like family and friends and basic US comforts are not surprising. What is surprising is how much I miss certain words in English. For example, the Spanish language does not have a word for “hanging out”. The closest thing is pasar tiempo, literally pass time, but it is always made more specific, like pass time by talking or going shopping. The funny thing to me is that this is a people who hang out a lot. As in, this is something you do everyday, multiple times a day, and the borrachos do it all day on the corner. They need a word like hang out. Another word I miss is awkward. There a few words you could say here, like incomodo (uncomfortable) or raro (strange) but nothing like the word awkward – I miss it terribly! However, there are words here that we don’t have in English, like pena, which is a conglomeration of self-conciousness/shame/embarrassment. It’s rather unique and says a lot about a situation or a person. They also have a tense called vos (you), a very personal, informal way of speaking, including how you conjugate your verbs…when my dad here speaks to me over lunch about nica life in the vos form, I feel an amazing sense of security and welcoming. They also have funny English cognates, like estretch pantalones to describe leggings, and chorts for shorts. Basically it is the English word with Spanish pronunciation. These past couple days I feel like I have finally begun to play with the language instead of being stiff and bottled up. I was able to write a poetic line the other day in Spanish and it made me feel so much better. Exploring language is truly a fascinating venture.

I also miss: quiet, firework absent atmospheres [I have awakened the past 7 days at 430 to loud explosions and the band in celebration of corpus cristi], dark chocolate, pasta, numerous fruits and vegetables at my disposal, whole grain bread, cinnamon lattes from the roasterie, parks with grass, clean feet, depth of conversation, and quality music other than from my laptop. Such is life .

[It really is hard to explain just how much I miss certain foods. Almost a physical pain. Rather odd.]

Esperanza: 1 de Junio
Today’s La Prensa, the national newspaper, had a story about the 14,000 people who will be out of a job when Hanes leaves Nicaragua. They are pulling out because of the current president’s stance on the textile factories. [I do not fully understand all the details of how this works, so I won’t pretend to explain why this is happening.] What is apparent to me is the heaviness of poverty. There are already too many people without jobs. Gas prices continue to climb and the strike will recommence tomorrow. That means that many more people will not be able to travel to their jobs and the families of the transportistas will go without. For me, it is simply an inconvenience, something that makes my time a bit more uncomfortable, since I can’t leave my site and our resources become slightly strained. But for many others, they will listen to their rumbling stomachs and peer out at a seemingly impossible situation. There are people here who live to day to day eating nothing but tortillas made from a grain given to animals, no water, no electricity, no way to get out of their situation. This inhumanity demands my attention. This is part of why I am here. Jesus said that the poor will always be with you, and as Shane Claiborne explains in his book Irresistible Revolution, this is not because poverty cannot end but because the poor will find rest and a place within the church. But how many poor folks are in your church today? I know for my church back home, not many, if any at all. Now, what I am NOT suggesting you do is go round up some homeless people to appease your conscience. The fact is that the Church is not a building or a program, but us - people who have been restored and invited along by Jesus. For this reason, I am asking us to consider what we, as the body, the Church, are doing. Are there parts of us that are gangrenous from hunger and disease? Leprous with despair? What are we going to do? It is no longer enough to feel sorry for these people, or even to sport a t-shirt that gave part of the proceeds to a random charity [Has that ever really been enough…]. What is necessary, I am coming to believe, is exactly as Claiborne and others have said…to join them. To take our place next to our brothers and sisters, believing Jesus wasn’t kidding when He said what you do to the least of these, you do to Him. We, as the Church, are to go to them, to mourn with those who are mourning and rejoice with those who rejoice. This is not just stereotypically poor people either – there are very rich people who I believe are completely impoverished of spirit. There are middle-class families impoverished of love. Poverty has many faces. As I look into my two years here, I am overwhelmed by the implications of this kind of living. I don’t really know how to do it. But rather than give up my esperanza (hope), I will do my best to get to know my brothers and sisters here. Who is the woman who makes my pan dulce? What is the reason the man on the corner goes barefoot? What makes my younger sister here get excited? It is not about creating massive relief programs, but rather getting to know my neighbor. That way, when I love them, it’s because I know their name and who they are…a genuine care and concern in the lives of those around me, not a generic “Christian” love that leaves people faceless. And you don’t need to live in a third world country to do that.

PS: I realize, in retrospect, that some of the things I throw out there are rather raw. They might make you uncomfortable. Please understand that none of this is in judgment or manipulation…these are just things that I am facing here for myself and I want to invite anyone who is interested to come along.

PPS: And in all of this, the only possibility of doing any of it is His grace. Trust me. There is not a single thing I could do here with kingdom impact without His help. I am not out to be some righteous do-gooder. But I do want to follow Him better, and that involves asking some tough questions.

And thank you to all who have been so encouraging and supportive of my writing…it really is humbling to have people tell you that what you write connects with them. I cherish being able to share this with you all and have you receive it.

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

va pues


The air is pregnant with waiting. Clouds loom and my spirit is weary, aching for the water to finally break through and calm the dust beneath my feet. Listlessness rumbles along the streets and we all watch expectantly. Lightening flashes and all hold their breath, hoping. Finally, finally, the pinging overhead begins. Slight and soft at first, then increasingly faster, forcing everything out of its path. As I sit on this little bench underneath the overhang, I breathe a sigh of relief. All day I have been waiting for this release, and as the water rushes by below my chacos, I am surprised by how much the environment here affects me. There is this silent dialogue passing between my being and the land I am inhabiting. It’s as if he knew I was heavy with this task before me, as he was weighted with the rain overhead. And in midst of the downpour, I found myself letting it rest awhile. By far the most refreshing rain I’ve experienced in a while.


There is an inexplicable sadness that comes with straddling two language spheres. I’ve never really experienced this before, as my times of immersion into a foreign tongue were temporary. Think about the past hour. How many times did you interact with someone? Maybe not in full sentences, or even with words, but there was this ability to communicate your intentions and be understood. When you are living in a language other than your own, the chances of you getting to experience this kind of interaction are slim to none. These kinds of interactions take few if any words, but that is because below the surface dwells an entire world of language, idioms and shared experiences that enable the absence of spoken word. Here there is inevitable lack of language and an inherent stiffness from living within this new garment. Then there is the distance of new relationships, only furthered by my inability to connect. On top of all this, there is the desperate clawing to hold firmly to this new language, only to find it as water, fluid and ever-changing. As I sat in my Spanish class today, I felt this sorrow rise up, a heart aching to connect on a deeper level than my new friendships in English and developing relationships in Spanish. When I speak my mother tongue, I feel like I’m cheating myself out of a chance to further my Spanish relationships, yet not finding the satisfaction that comes from conversations with old friends. When I speak my new language, I often feel small and unsure, aware of my limits and hungry for them to expand. People of course are patient and helpful towards me, but there is this invisibility that comes with learning a new language. I do not have the words to convey much of myself, nor can I fully understand and engage these new friends I am making. The hardest part of this is realizing that my ability to succeed here, to become a part of a community and gain relationships that give rise to development, depends on my ability to communicate. And this is a slow and winding road. Frost said he took the road less traveled, and that made all the difference. What he did not speak of was the fear and doubt that dwell in the shadows of that path, nor the weariness that accompanies a trip into the wild unknown. But it is this bigger “all the difference” that I came for and I knew that days like this would come. I decided a while ago to embrace all that came my way, the lovely and the foul, to be grateful for all that I was allowed to experience. So as I sit in this grey place of vacant language, I will remember the beautiful conversations I have had in the past and look forward to the days that my speech is colored brilliantly in Spanish.


When you don’t have much else, there remains the love within you can offer. I am searching for how to love in this new place. It looks different than I thought it might.


This is me, on a typical weekday night. Spanish music playing on my laptop. Numerous Peace Corps assigned books strewn across my lap and tabletop. Full calendar dictating my every move this week. Drying clothing hanging overhead waiting to be ironed. Chinelas on my feet. And yes, my green fleece sweatshirt. I must be adapting.

Saturday, May 17, 2008

fin de semana

Andando: 12 de Mayo

Today was a day of firsts. My first Spanish class. My first tour of the city. My first non-host family self-directed conversation. My first day using the internet café [at 80 cents an hour, or 15 cordobas]. My first day feeling like this city could become partially mine. And though I was tempted to be frustrated with my Spanish class or feel worn out by the heat or uncomfortable with the food situation [without transportation, the markets selling fruits and vegetables are closed]…I found myself that much more grateful and adjusting. When the time driven self objected to the content of our Spanish class, my aspirante self said “poco a poco”…remembering that this journey comes little by little. And in taking this poco a poco, I met a new couple that I will eat lunch with tomorrow, had time to play uno with my little friends, laughed about the wheelchair named Chele (whitey) after those who gave it to this boy, ate cookies and Coke with a quarter of the town at a wake and simply lived among my family. Nicaragua is a country where there is not only the space but the invitation to wade knee deep.

Maestras: 12 de Mayo

I have found that the best place to learn a language is with those at least 10 or more years younger than you. As I have played game after game with my sister and nephew and various cousins, I find myself slipping in Nica Spanish….the dropped s’s, the various phrases, the rhythm of this beautiful language. And the best part? This practice has been attuning my ear to where I am able to understand at least one stream of Spanish around me, albeit with much concentration. So gracias a Dios for Carlitos y Athzyris. They stand as the cornerstone to my Peace Corps service.

Fea: 14 de Mayo

The fascinating part of living in another culture is that inevitably parts of you will collide with parts of it and become messy. For example, I do not live well “poco a poco”. A lifestyle that makes sense here does not come intuitively to me. And in this process, I keep discovering parts of myself that are a bit ugly. The funny part to me is how much pena [embarrassment/shame] it brings me, even though those parts did not just appear in Nicaragua. Rather, Nicaragua has laid parts of me open, and here I find those things which I wish were not there. All day today I wanted to get upset and frustrated by it all, to let it consume me, either the emotions themselves or the shame I felt from experiencing them. But as I rode back to my pueblo listening to the other aspirantes around me, I felt this calmness about just being human. Why do I insist on this perfection, this unattainable standard? I don’t want to live that way. So I’ll drink my Coke and listen to my gringa music and remember that tomorrow is a new day. It might end up just as ugly as today felt, but the hope is that nothing stays ugly forever. [Except cockroaches. I think those will be ugly always.]

Mosquitera: 16 de Mayo

I woke up this morning slightly chilled…not to the point of being uncomfortable, but when the skin is cool to the touch. My lovely mosquito net wafted around me as the wind blew through it from my tiny window, twirling with the roosters cries and the murmur of a pueblo waking up. I was actually sad today when training was held in an air conditioned room. I’ve come to the conclusion that we really weren’t meant to live in an artificial space. Sure, I have lots of bugs visit me [mosquite bite count up to 14]. Sure, sometimes it is really too hot. But in all of this there is this connection to each other through your environment. While in the States, we shut our doors and windows and lock ourselves from the elements, here they open all possible airways and let it all flow together. Consequently, the human interaction is very different as well. In the States, you don’t know many, if any, of your neighbors. You don’t call to passer-bys or have unannounced guests. You definitely don’t spend a majority of your time chatting with those outside your house or workplace. But here, people aren’t as territorial or rigid about their space. As their windows and doors open, so does their idea about who is welcome. It is not secluded to those within the house or even people you know. Every person receives a buenas or an adios or a como le fue. The space people dwell in is very fluid, winding from house to street to patio to another house. To some, this sounds very messy and uncomfortable. And it certainly can be. But I’m finding that the threading together of a people through this exchange is way more important than having an orderly domain. Sometimes I wonder if our “keeping out the elements” is really “keeping out other people”. We have all been in that space where someone left a mess in our lives. And none of us really enjoy that experience. But I’m becoming convinced that as painful as some of that might be, the truth is that I was made to be in relation with those around me. I believe that my ability to be fully alive comes from sharing in experiences with others. Try it. Spend an evening on your porch and call out to all who pass. Sit in the park for a while and connect with those around you. It may feel awkward and scary at first, but I think you’ll find that you like it.

Monday, May 12, 2008



My mind is a dance of English and Spanish, the English leading while the Spanish moves swiftly to come to the forefront. My family and I are sitting near the doorway, listening to the firecrackers and distant thunder. It appears there is a parallel between the natural and our creations. Finally, it is time. Prayers echo out of the speaker on top of a slow moving car, the nearby church attendees all holding candles and singing praise. It is the procession of Santisimo, the celebration of the host and the miracle of the Spirit’s indwelling. We weave our way around other faithful and begin walking in step with the nuns. I can’t quite catch all the words, but I recognize Jesus’ instructed prayer and I feel at peace, knowing that my faith translates across language. As we round the blocks and past the church, it begins to rain. Just slightly. By the time we find ourselves back home, the rain begins to pour. And as I laid underneath the heady mosquito net listening to the pounding on the tin roof, I find strange identification with the procession we just had and the soaking rain above my head. While my townspeople were celebrating the miracle of the Spirit’s indwelling in one part of their faith, I felt like my Father was infusing me with His Spirit once more, baptizing me and reminding me that He goes with me. And that was enough to set me at peace and draw me into restful sleep.


I awoke this morning to the clattering palomitas on my roof and the rising heat wafting into my upstairs window. Climbing out of bed, I realized I have a ton of laundry. Now, there are no washing machines or press the button type chores. Everything is dependent on your own muscles, your own creative devices. As I drank café y picos with my Nica mama, I asked her if she could show me how to wash my clothes. She smiled widely and took me to the backyard. In 30 seconds, she had my skirt tumbling across the cement ridges with a teal soap brick in her hand. Watching her, I thought, this will be no problem. I can handle this. And then it was my turn. I don’t know how anyone could feel uneducated doing laundry, but I certainly did. My hands awkward and timid, water and clothing spreading across the countertops, with a certain humility and appreciation swelling in my chest. It took me a good 3 minutes to wash my first t-shirt. But Dona proved so patient and kind, she allowed me to continue washing and did not insist on standing over me or doing it for me.

With my clothes dripping in a colorful array across our cement backyard, I smiled and thought to myself, si se puedo. I can do this. I might falter and slip and make huge errors, but there is something within me that is adapt to growing in these kinds of unfamiliar places. I began to think of the day when laundry washing and making gallo pinto will be second nature. And the fact that this is my path gives me great hope for the coming two years.

PS: I even ironed all of it tonight. How bout that?!?


This is something offered to me multiple times a day – the invitation to sit. I’ve only been here two days, but already I can tell there is so much more to sitting than sitting. It is not just the action of placing your sweating self into the proffered rocking chair or plastic silla. It encompasses being a part of the community around you. People are coming and “sitting” all day. I know that right now my experience is only two things: invitation to sit and rest or sit and participate, but I am excited to perfect the art of sitting with people. It was something I had begun to explore back home, particularly with my pals Sara and Lauren, but here, this is what you do. There is not much else, especially on the weekends [and DEFINITELY during a transportation strike], and there are at least 3 hours of the day that demand you to sit – to do anything else results in major fatigue and buckets of sweat. My American self is rather worn out by all the sitting and missing chunks of language, but my global soul is excited to learn this ancient art of loving people by just being with them. I’ll keep you posted on how it goes.

Mosquito bites: 5
Sunburn: 0
Crying fests: 2 little bits
Massive Bugs: 0

I can handle these counts…let’s keep hoping they stay this good.

(buenas tardes to everyone...i have an internet cafe in my town, so these will be coming once a week or so. much love!)

Thursday, May 8, 2008


well. i'm here. :)

nica hugs you the minute you get off the plane. the hot air just engulfs you and spanish winds its way into your ears. palm trees and gorgeous flora line the open air walkways between rooms. and the people. i can't explain the comraderie you feel in peace corps...the staff, from the country director to the admin officers make you feel like you could talk to them about anything....this being a very valuable trait considering these will be the people i call when i find myself in a jam. the trainees and i have been enjoying great food and posh rooms and a pool. the surroundings make for a good place to unwind and get to know each other better after the long day of training.

having current volunteers here has also helped immensely...there is something about looking at someone who has done it for a year or two years that quiets all those irrational fears. it's been a great beginning to what i hope to be an amazing viaje.

tomorrow we have 3 hours of language training to further determine our levels and place us in our training town groups. Then its off to tour managua [supposing the transportation strike is over...] and saturday we meet our host families. I am so stoked! more later when i get internet again....let me know how you are!!