Saturday, May 27, 2006

Nicaragua Week 3

Week 3 and things are starting to get to be more of a routine. My spanish is still fairly bad, but I'm a little more comfortable with my family and my town. Through the last week, some notable events:

As part of our training period, my group of trainees in Niquinohomo are required to work with a youth group on a project within the town. Our first meeting was last week, and it marked the first time that we had to give a presentation in Spanish. For the most part, our parts were scripted out and rehearsed, but it went fine, and the group was more than patient and helpful.

We will continue to meet with the group for the next 8 weeks, working on a project that they decide to do. So far, we've been lucky, as our group has shown interest and done a lot of the work by themselves. Considering our Spanish level, we're grateful for their initial ambition.

Last weekend I went with family and friends to San Jorge, a town on Lake Nicaragua. All 23 of us rode in the back of a UHaul-type truck, sitting in lawn chairs, for the hour or so long drive. The beach was fairly nice and was surrounded by two volcanoes in the distance, making it a nice spot to spend an afternoon.

I also was attacked by a dog this past week. At my house, I essentially back up to a compound-like area that holds four or five homes for the entire family (aunts, uncles, cousins, grandparents). In the middle of this compound is four or five dogs that either roam around or are chained up on trees, sinks, cars, etc. During the day, the dogs aren't a problem and I'm free to walk around the place. As night falls, however, a family member walks me through the compound so that the dogs don't attack/bark at the unfamiliar face.

Anyway, I was walking back to get my dinner one night when I get to the area that the largest dog is normally chained up. I realize I'm rather close to this area and that it's beginning to get dark. At this moment, I see the dog charging from underneath a sink with mouth open and fangs showing. I jump out of the way, just in time for the dog to rip my pant leg but miss my leg. It was a scarry moment, but not quite as scarry as the sounds I heard coming from the dog as it was punished by an older woman after the poor dog had done what it was trained to do. The worst part is that I'm down to two pairs of of which currently has gum all over the butt after I sat in something on the circa-1988 school bus that functions as public transportation.

Other than that and a large unidentifiable bug on the inside of my mosquito net last night, things are fairly normal and quiet. This next week we continue with classes and on Wednesday I teach my first class at the local high school. How I will do this with my language ability, I'm not quite sure, but I'll let you know in a week. Next weekend we leave our training towns for half a week to visit a volunteer at site which will be a welcome break and a nice way to figure out what it'll be like after I leave my training town in 7 weeks.

Things I want: An afternoon game at Comerica Park to watch the first place Detroit Tigers.

Saturday, May 20, 2006

Nicaragua Week 2

I typed out a fairly long review of my first two and half weeks in Nicaragua this afternoon only to have the computer bring up an error message when I tried to upload. Needless to say, I lost the entire post...welcome to the third world.

To summarize, I made it to Nicaragua on May 3 with 16 other trainees. Our first three days were spent in a really nice resort type hotel in Managua before we were sent to our host towns and families. Each town has three to four trainees, grouped together based on language ability. My group tested into the novice mid category which essentially means that we speak in isolated words, grunts, and phrases that only the most sympathetic ear can understand. The first weekend with my family was a lot of me saying ¨Si¨ to things that I didn´t understand.

I live in Niquinohomo with my host mom, 7 year old sister, 19 year old brother, and 26 year old brother. Our house is fairly´s a U shaped house with a small courtyard type middle. We normally have electricity, and we have a flushing toilet, but we rarely have running water.

My days are busy and tiring. I normally wake up at 7am (although I rarely sleep through the night because of roosters, dogs, busses, etc. There´s an absurd amount of noise) I eat breakfast with my mom and sister, then I have language classes Monday through Thursday. Wednesday afternoons, Fridays, and Saturday mornings are spent taking technical classes with the other 16 trainees. We travel to various towns around Masaya where current volunteers teach us about teaching, Nicaragua, security, etc. Fridays are also the days that we´ve been receiving our vaccacinations...7 and counting, so far. After classes I eat dinner with my family and do whatever homework I have before retiring to my room around 9 or 10. I go to bed with my mind swimming in Spanish and English.

My Spanish is improving, I suppose, but it´s an uphill battle. You lose your personality when you can´t´s one of the more frustrating experiences I´ve had. I´m severely jealous of the trainees that came down essentially fluent. I´d give anything. So much patience is needed.

My town is fairly small, and although there´s an internet cafe, the connection is not always great and it´s rather expensive for our Peace Corps allowance. Now that I´m getting to know some other towns and the bus system, I hope to be able to update a little promises though.

Things I want: a giant burrito from BTB (what´s the new name?), a budweiser, a wallow spot on the hoover couch, a tv to watch game 7 of pistons vs. cavs