Friday, April 29, 2011

Time Well Spent

My parents were here for a week and it went by so fast!  I knew it would, but was hoping it would stretch out as long as possible :)  

The trip started when I took a taxi to the airport to pick up my parents.  We waited in the lobby and then I saw them!  They were behind a large glass wall and I had to wait patiently for them to collect their luggage before exiting the area.  It was so exciting to see them and then hug them!  7 ½ months is a long time to not see anyone!

I took my parents to my town (Boaco) and then got to meet my family here.  It was funny because my parents don’t speak any Spanish and my family here doesn’t speak any English so I had to jump in and begin translating.  I felt kind of weird repeating everything I heard (even though it was in a different language)—sort of like a parrot.  I got used to it after awhile and then it was natural; although I did say a few things in Spanish to my parents and then realized they didn’t understand me haha oops!  

I gave them a tour of my town and we had a big dinner with my family here and the teachers that I work with.  It was so great to have everyone together. 

After my parents got to see where I live now, I took them to Masaya to travel to my old town of San Juan de Oriente.  This town is much smaller and the house I lived in before is much poorer.  This was eye-opening to them, although it’s become normal to me.  My host mom was delighted to meet my parents and show them her home and offer them fresh fruit from the backyard.  It was also exciting to see the little girls again and play a little.  

We then went out to lunch with my old host family and met up with one of my volunteer friends that used to live in San Juan with me.  Her mom and sister were visiting.

We stayed in Masaya that night and then drove out to the beach the next day where we spent 3 nights at a resort.  This was quite a change to what I had been living for the last 7 ½ months!  I felt like I was in the States!  However, I still had to work a little because very few of the people that worked at the resort spoke English.  

After our little piece of luxury, we drove into Managua and I showed my parents the Peace Corps office there.  We organized all of their things and got to bed early as they had a 7am flight to catch, which meant leaving the hotel at 5am!  It was hard for us to fall asleep knowing what would come the next morning, but it eventually came time to say goodbye.  This time it wasn’t as hard as when I left Oregon, because I’m already here in Nicaragua and I know what I’m doing—there’s not that feeling of the unknown and what will I do??  Also, my parents are planning on coming back in December with my brother so I have that to look forward to :)

All in all, it was a great trip and I was excited that my parents got to see a glimpse of my life here in Nicaragua.

P.S.  Thanks for the AWESOME new shirt!!

Thursday, April 14, 2011


I bet you all are getting excited for summer coming up.  Here, it always feels like summer because of the weather, even though I still go to school.  The next week we have as vacation for Holy Week and I am so excited to see my parents!  We’ve been talking over the phone and they’re bringing me some things that I have missed from back home.  It will be so nice to see them and hang out for a week.  We’re planning on going to the beach :)

A little more details on my past adventures: the zip-lining was awesome!  The guides zip-lined with us and held our feet so we could go upside and do tricks.  They were really fun and took pictures of us.  The volcano surfing is sort of like sledding down the side of a volcano.  The volcano that we hiked had black rock/dirt on the sides which kind of work like snow in a way to make it easy to sled or snowboard down the side.  It was a very cool experience!  The canyon hiking was an incredible experience as well and thankfully those spiders we saw stayed on the rocks—they were the size of my hand! Yikes!  I love swimming so that hiking trip was great.  We floated down the river most of the way and climbed over rocks to get through the canyon.  The baseball game was a neat experience—baseball is the most popular sport here in Nicaragua.  I thought it was soccer, but baseball is way more common.  

Here in Nicaragua, we didn’t have any damage from the earthquake and tsunami in Japan.  However, we had several warnings and were told not to travel during that time.  Some people were pretty worried as there was a small earthquake in Nicaragua after the one in Japan.  

Because it’s been so hot lately (high 90’s/low 100’s & the sun is more intense here), I haven’t been doing as many things as I used to.  Someone mentioned reading.  I love reading, but sitting in my house is so hot so I don’t do it as often.  It’s hard too because there’s always someone around to talk to and I don’t want to ignore someone and stay in my room.  Here, family and relationships are very important and usually people are not very independent or doing things by themselves.  Speaking of family, the pictures I posted before of the babies are new babies of family members here.  It’s so fun being around babies and little kids—makes like happier :)

To wrap things up…my favorite thing I’ve done here would have to be a more general answer and that is: travel.  I love experiencing new things and seeing new places, people, etc.  It has been so awesome getting to travel around Nicaragua with friends and see all the unique and interesting things that are here.  I feel so fortunate to have this opportunity.  Thanks for reading and responding.  Look forward to sharing my adventures with my parents with you later… adios for now!

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

It's been so long...

It’s been a long time since we’ve shared stories, and a lot of things have happened since then.  Our school year started in February and I’ve been working with 3 Nicaraguan English teachers in my high school here.  I work with the 7th, 8th, and 9th grade classes.  There are so many students in each class!  A couple of them have 50 students!  It’s a little difficult sometimes to work with such big classes, but I’m getting more comfortable with it and the students are beginning to enjoy the lessons.  It’s hard because they don’t use English outside of the classroom and they only have 3 hours per week of English classes so they have to work very hard to improve.  My principal and counterpart teachers got me a school polo shirt to wear because they said I’m part of their team.

I’ve also got to do some traveling since we’ve last talked.  I’ve visited friends and traveled with my host brother.  Most recently, I hiked through a canyon and floated the river inside.  It was awesome!  We saw some giant spiders and teeny tiny frogs too.  We had so much fun.  I hope I can go back there sometime.

The third week of this month is called “Holy Week” which is part of the Catholic celebration for Easter.  There is no school for the whole week and I’m extra excited about this because my parents are coming to visit me!!  I haven’t seen my parents in 7 ½ months so this will be so great for all of us :)  I’m sad my brother can’t come this time, but I’ll hopefully see him this next Christmas.  It’s weird going so long without seeing friends or family from back home, but this experience makes me grateful for all they have done for me throughout my life. 

Other things…

My host sister had her baby & our cousin had one too.

Some friends visited from back home and we went to the beach, volcano surfing, zip lining, and stayed overnight at a lake in the crater of a volcano.

We had a celebration in our town for the 116th anniversary and there were lots of horses because we live in "cowboy country".

I went to a language workshop with a bunch of other volunteers to our training towns to practice Spanish and see how much we had improved in the past few months.  We also had some fun while we were all together.

Went to a baseball game in my town.

That’s about all the excitement for now.  I’ll let you know how my parents’ visit goes.  Maybe Mrs. Proudfit can give some letters to my parents to bring down here if you want to write something.  Talk to you all soon!

Saturday, January 1, 2011

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!

Sorry I didn’t get to write to you before vacation.  I don’t get notifications when there are new posts—maybe you can help me out with that Mrs. Proudfit? :)
I hope that you all enjoyed your break from school, but didn’t forget too much!  Thank you for all of your questions and stories.  I will try my best to answer your questions and tell you a little bit about the holiday celebrations I experienced.  I had a wonderful time in Boaco while my family was in Hawaii and I’m feeling much better after being sick in the beginning of December.  I wasn’t mad about my family going to Hawaii because I’m having a great time here in Nicaragua so they deserve something fun :)
Christmas here in Nicaragua is celebrated on December 24th.  The houses are decorated and Christmas trees are put up in living rooms, similar to the U.S.  The trees are all artificial though because they don’t have those kinds of trees here and it would be very expensive to ship them, like they do to other places.  They don’t put up stockings here, but I was sent one from my aunt back home.  Some people have piƱatas for their parties too.  Families here get together on the 24th and celebrate by having dinner around midnight, which is chicken, vegetables, and rice, and then they set off fireworks and drink sparkling cider.  To me, it felt more like New Year’s Eve, but it was Christmas.  I stayed up until 2am with my host family from San Juan de Oriente and then I had to go to bed! 
Little girls in my house in San Juan de Oriente
There wasn’t anything for December 25th, so I celebrated with some of the other volunteers.  We got together at my host family’s house and watched a Christmas movie, drank hot chocolate, and ate cookies :)  We tried to make it feel like Christmas, even though it was pretty warm and sunny that day.
I decided to spend Christmas with my old host family in San Juan de Oriente but after that I returned to Boaco and gave some presents to my family there.  They don’t give out many presents here, and they usually don’t put any under the tree, so that was different. 
Decorating the tree in Boaco
I received several packages in the mail from my parents, grandparents, aunt & uncle, and friends so those were fun to open for Christmas.  It didn’t feel too much like Christmas to me here because I wasn’t with my family and it was warm, not cold and snowy.  I didn’t feel too sad about it though because it sort of felt like just another day. 
In Oregon for Christmas, my family puts up a tree with lights, and all different kinds of ornaments.  Then we put an angel on top.  I love listening to Christmas music while decorating the tree and house.  We watch Christmas movies on Christmas Eve and we get to open one present.  On Christmas day, my brother and I race down the stairs and run to the tree to check out our stockings.  Before opening presents, we have a search for the pickle ornament (like Twyla mentioned).  Whoever finds the pickle gets a few dollars.  We then open presents as a family (mom, dad, brother, and me).  My dad usually makes a special breakfast like cinnamon rolls and then we stay in our pajamas and watch the Christmas parades on TV.  Later we visit grandparents and have lunch or dinner with them and exchange gifts.  Christmas is my favorite holiday and it was a little sad not being able to share these traditions with my family. 
New Year’s is celebrated like it is in the U.S.  I was in Boaco with my host brother, but the rest of our family was at their finca (farm).  I cooked dinner and we ate some snacks later while staying up for the celebration.  We had some friends over, listened to music, hung out, and set off fireworks at midnight.  Pretty much the same thing I do in the States.  Last year I spent New Year’s in Florida with my family—we played games and stayed up late with relatives and watched the celebration in New York on TV. 

I have been here in Boaco for about a month and a half now (Nicaragua for 4 months) and things are going really well.  Because Boaco is a much bigger town than San Juan de Oriente, there are a lot more people and things to do.  At my house, we have water all the time, which is definitely nice!  We have a grocery store, lots of little shops, internet cafes, and a few restaurants.
I haven’t been doing that much because the students are still on vacation, but we are going to have a conference with the volunteers in my group.  We will be meeting at a hotel on the beach, so I’m excited about that.  I hope we won’t have too many meetings and get to play on the beach a little :)  I’m not sure what grade I will be teaching this year because I have to talk to my teaching counterparts to see where they need help. 
I do miss my family, but I don’t feel sad being here.  My parents might visit me in April because we have a week off from school.  That should be fun to show them around Nicaragua.

Wishing you a good rest of the schoolyear in 2011!  Do your best and be nice to your teachers--they work really hard to help you :)

Friday, December 10, 2010

Merry Christmas

Thinking of you this holiday season. I hope that you have a wonderful time exploring Christmas tradtions in your new home. The Christmas lights are all on in Keizer and people are starting to drive through the neighborhood. Lindsey is heading down to the Rogue River with me next week for our annual trip. We will be working on wedding invitations and favors. I'll have to start making some of the christmas goodies soon. Do you remember the ugly christmas sweater party? I miss seeing you kids loving life and living with such joy. I know your family will be missing you this year and you will be missing them. You are in our thoughts.