27 October 2011


After a little over two years in Nicaragua, I'm back home! For the first few days it felt like I was just home for vacation and was going back, but now it's sunk in. I'm living at home for the indefinite future. And unemployed.

Not much happened during the last few months in Nicaragua. I had to go to the Peace Corps office a lot for final medical appointments, exit interviews, etc. There wasn't much class going on because of Independence Day celebrations in September and then my town's patron saint celebrations plus the school's anniversary and a lot of rain (rain = no school) in October.

I couldn't find another volunteer to adopt Bambi so I had to give him to a teacher I worked with in a rural community school. It was really sad and stressful saying goodbye to everyone and getting rid of all of my stuff, but I managed and I hope to be back to visit every now and then.

The Nicaraguans taught me a lot about themselves, their food and culture, and I did my best to teach them about American culture and food. They are the most accommodating, welcoming and helpful people I have ever encountered. Life in Nicaragua isn't easy, but it isn't horrible either. There is always time to celebrate something, cancel school or, most importantly, spend time with family. Their popular saying, "hay mas tiempo que vida" (there is more time than life), sums it up pretty well.

With all of the free time I now have at home, I've started to work on my grad school applications. I'm applying to 11 different programs for international development. I'm hoping to finish them sometime soon, since I have nothing else to do and no excuse not to, and start looking for some form of temporary work until classes start next September.

So I guess this is the end of my blog. Thanks so much for keeping up with it over the last 2+ years!

30 July 2011

World Map and Bambi

I finally finished my world map! It took an entire month from start to finish and I was definitely starting to get sick of it, but I'm really glad I did it. Now I just have to hope that the kids at school don't destroy it...

A couple weeks ago some kids from down the street gave me a puppy named Bambi. I'm not entirely sure why they didn't want him, but either way, I now have a pet. I was set on giving him back or finding someone to adopt him when I leave but the more I think about it, the more I realize that no one would take care of him like I do. Dogs in Nicaragua aren't "man's best friend" or part of the family, they're watch dogs and live outside and eat whatever's left over from over meal, if there is anything. So I'm going to talk to another PCV next week who's taking her dog back with her to see what the process is like to take him back with me.

09 July 2011

It's semester vacation already

We're officially halfway through the school year and on semester vacation. The first half of the year went by pretty quickly and now I only have about four months left (not that I'm counting or anything). August should actually be the last "real" month of school. September is full of Independence Day celebrations and days off from school, October is when patron saint festivities are here (more missed school) and then the elections are the first week of November which are definitely going to affect class since the schools are used as polling centers. The fact that election day is on a Sunday certainly does not mean that classes will be unaffected and resume as normal that Monday. And the week(s) before will be used for setting everything up, naturally. So I basically have one more solid month of teaching left. I think I can handle that.

I had a really nice time at home for my sister's graduation. Luckily the graduation was an excuse for everyone to get together so I got to see the whole family. I also got a lot of "So, what are you going to do when you come back?" I think I've resigned myself to going to grad school to get a Master's in International Development. Peace Corps is great work experience but everyone still requires a Master's...so back to school I go.

After telling the mayor of my town that, no, I will not trade in my boyfriend for him, I'm very sorry, I received all the materials for my world map. Last weekend Ana's husband graciously volunteered 6 hours of his time and manual labor to cement over the brick wall at the school where I'm going to paint the map. In the next couple days we'll go back to add another layer of a finer cement mixture so the wall is smooth and ready to paint. My friend Julie, who's done 3 maps in her town, will be here next weekend to help me with the grid and to start drawing.

Rainy season is in full swing and has brought with it zillions of flies and mosquitoes. I haven't yet decided which of the two is worse.

Today I was enlightened by the Nicaraguan interpretation of a rainbow, as told by a 15 year old boy: the rainbow represents peace in Nicaragua, it comes out of the hearts of two angels (one at each end) and in the middle of the rainbow is Jesus with his arms spread open. Not quite as exciting as the leprechaun and his pot of gold but it will suffice...

On Wednesday my conversation group and I are going on a field trip to Granada so they can practice their English by interviewing tourists. They're really excited about it...should be fun. It's cool to see how much they've learned and improved since we started from zero a year and a half ago.

31 May 2011

Miscellaneous Updates

The rainy season is trying to start. It's not raining consistently everyday yet but we're getting there. In the meantime the humidity on the days it doesn't rain is unbearable.

Mango season is starting to slow down so my dozens of mangoes a week have been reduced to maybe six.

Last Monday on the way to a rural countryside school where I've been teaching English, the tire of the school's principal's motorcycle (my mode of transportation to get there...if Peace Corps knew I'd get kicked out) popped when we crossed the river. I walked the rest of the way to school to teach class and he was going to push the motorcycle back to fix it and come get me to take me home later. Important note: this is a very overweight and inactive Nicaraguan man and we were approximately 9 miles from my town. So I finished class and started walking figuring I'd run into him on his way to get me and save some time. Wrong. He never came back and I got all the way to my town (a little over 3 hours and 9 miles later) without even hearing anything from him. He should have sent someone to get me if he wasn't going to make it, or at least called to make sure I was ok. If I hadn't started walking I would have been waiting for him alone at the middle of nowhere school all night. So, needless to say, I'm not going back there.

I'm in the process of getting the mayor's office to pay for the materials to paint a big world map at my school. I talked to a few people about it and wrote up a formal letter asking for the materials and explaining the importance of the map and today I actually got to talk to the mayor about it. It sounds like they're going to help which is good. I'll have my work cut out for me during the semester vacation in July. Peace Corps has a website for the world map project if you want to see what it's like: wwwtheworldmapproject.com

I'm going home on Monday for 15 days for my sister's graduation! I'm really looking forward to seeing everyone and getting a little break from Nicaragua.

12 May 2011


Mangoes are officially in season and I can't go two days without being given at least a dozen mangoes. I haven't completely OD-ed on them yet, but I'm getting there. Hopefully by the time I'm completely over them it'll be the end of the season.

It's been really hot here because the rainy season should be starting soon...though some people say it's because there's going to be a huge earthquake on May 21st when the world is supposedly ending.

We've been missing so much school lately for various Sandino actos, etc. Tomorrow is the 32nd anniversary of the Sandinista Revolution, so there obviously won't be any class.

I'm really looking forward to going home in less than a month!

25 April 2011

Semana Santa Success

I just got back from the Corn Islands on the Caribbean Coast of Nicaragua with my friends Julie and Jocelyn. Up until the day before it didn’t seem real that we were actually going to go. We had to get permission from Peace Corps to go on vacation (even though we didn’t miss any school because there is no school during Holy Week) and we had to get permission from the U.S. Embassy. Then we bought the plane tickets from Managua to Big Corn Island. And it still hadn’t sunk in. All of these plans were finalized about 2 weeks before our departure date. Oh, and we didn’t have a place to stay yet either. We tried emailing a few places the week before we left but we were warned that Semana Santa (Holy Week) was the busiest time on the islands and that everywhere was going to be booked. Show up without a reservation at your own risk…which is exactly what we did.

The flight from Managua to Big Corn Island is a little over an hour and we left early on Saturday morning. We were able to stay with on of Jocelyn’s friends in Managua who works for the Embassy on Friday night, and she even took us to the airport at the crack of dawn on Saturday. Once on Big Corn we took a taxi to the dock and got on a 30 minute boat to Little Corn. Within minutes of being on Big Corn I already ran into someone I knew from my town. Later in the week we’d run into at least 5 other people we knew either from our towns or Peace Corps. Small world!

We found a place to stay on Little Corn Island for the first night after only two tries and considered ourselves lucky. We got settled and set out to find a place for the rest of the week. After a long day of wandering and sort of getting lost…yes, on a one square mile island…we stumbled upon a really neat place that happened to have a cabin for three available for the rest of the week. We were psyched and relieved.

This place we found, called Ensueños, was being run by a guy from France and a guy (the chef) from Italy. The “hotel,” if you can call it that, consisted of just a couple cabins created out of coconut trees, bamboo, sea shells, and a little cement. There was no electricity, except for in one bigger cabin which was generated by solar panels, so we were generally in bed by 7pm, after it got dark. The water was hand cranked (by the guests) out of a well. And there were enough mosquitoes to kill an army of elephants, which we found out after the first night without mosquito nets (they were being washed). Even with the mosquito nets, sleep was a little difficult due to the swaying and creaking of the coconut tree that was built into our cabin. But the atmosphere there was so relaxing during the day that we tried to put up with the lack of uninterrupted sleep at night.

We woke up early and filled our days with swimming in the ocean, reading, napping and going into town. Our tight Peace Corps Volunteer budget resulted in a diet of coconut bread, beans and homemade ice cream sold in a bag. Every day we went into town to buy and eat the bread, beans and ice cream and get into range of cell phone service so we could keep in contact with the rest of the world. One day we changed up the routine and went snorkeling where we saw some nurse sharks, manta rays, lots of cool fish and a ton of coral. After 5 days on Little Corn we went back to Big Corn for 2 days before our flight back to Managua on Saturday, where we continued the coconut bread, beans and homemade ice cream diet…with a couple splurges on pizza and rare American candy bars from a nearby convenience store.

It was a really great trip and I’m glad we went. I came back to a room full of dirt and dust and went right to work cleaning. Everything is now clean and my clothes are washed and hanging up to dry. I’m going to relax and enjoy the last day of vacation before it’s back to work on Monday.

26 March 2011

bye, March!

The Month of March has almost completely come and gone already and I'm finally sitting down to write a blog entry. Oops.

My boyfriend was here from March 6-12th. This was his fourth visit...he'll be fluent in Spanish any day now! We decided to bare the 6 hour trip up to the northern part of Nicaragua to see the Somoto Canyon. The canyon was beautiful and the tour the guide/local gave us was really fun. We hiked parts of the canyon and swam the parts that couldn't be hiked. We took a pit stop in Esteli on the way back to my town to see what all the rage was about there. There wasn't much to do besides wander around, eat, spend 10 minutes in a Sandinista museum and about 3 hours looking for a non-existent Italian restaurant in my guidebook. Then we went to Granada where we spent another day wandering and eating.

Then I went back to work for less than a week before I went back to the airport, but this time to pick up my younger sister. We went to the Mombacho Volcano and did the longer of the two trails around the craters, which I'd never done before. After, we waited way too long for a bus to Granada to get lunch, at about 4pm. We proceeded to miss the last bus from Granada to my town and had to take a long, roundabout way back, exhausting our patience with the buses. The next day we went to the favorite Laguna de Apoyo where we stayed the night for free thanks to my grandparents. We relaxed and ate guacamole and other yummy food we brought to cook. Then we went to the Masaya Volcano and passed through the market on the way back to my town. We spent the next couple days just hanging around in my house/town, going to the nearby river, going to some of my classes and cooking. We got corn kernels in the market and had them ground at the town mill. My sister turned it into corn bread which, due to a probably gluten-contaminated mill, she couldn't even eat! So I had to bare down and eat it all by myself...what a drag. We also managed to lose my pet turtle by letting him out of his bowl to walk around in the yard. Whenever I did that before he would always bury himself in my compost pile. When we couldn't find him after about 20 minutes we completely undug all of the compost without any luck. Apparently he's an land turtle as opposed to a water turtle and is probably happier underground. We had a really fun time and it was nice to see her and show her around Nicaragua.

Now I'm finally back to work. People haven't forgotten about me which is good. I was a little worried about missing so much school, but I have until November to make up for those two weeks and it's not everyday that my boyfriend and sister can come visit, so I think they'll forgive me.



World Map

World Map

my bed

my bed

my sister and her novio

my sister and her novio

the little birds in my kitchen

the little birds in my kitchen

a street and street dog

a street and street dog

the church

the church

the park

the park

an interesting mode of transportation

an interesting mode of transportation

viva la revolución

viva la revolución