Published: April 23rd 2009
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The entries seem to keep pouring out like hot cakes! I guess that with my new responsibilities, I have more free time to write.
Funny that this weekend is Earth Day. I think people in this country celebrate it, but you would never know for the piles of trash present along any road. Something really needs to be done to preserve the beautiful land here before the trash ruins it, creating a distasteful view and stench. So much could be done to improve the garbage system if only the people cared to get some initiatives going.
This week has been a very long week. We just got done with Semana Santa, or holy week. This means lots of masses and Stations of the Cross. They were very deep and meaningful, but also very long! The Easter vigil was 2.5 hours long! I was very surprised that our kids stayed awake, well, most of them that is. Easter was a great time to reflect on the meaning of the cross and what it means that Christ died for us on the cross. At night, the children have been watching The Passion of Christ, a very strong movie. However, it gets the point across. For me, this week is one of the best weeks, as it is full of insights and reflections about what it means to be a Christian. At the end of the week, Shirley invited me to an Easter dinner. Although I have had Thanksgiving, Christmas, and now Easter dinner with her in different months of the year, the background hasn’t changed: a hot tropical environment with trees, flowers, and cows.
After a successful and tiring week, I headed to the office. Unlike Ometepe Island, it is very hot at night. I often cannot sleep and I wake up parched for something cold. Just the other day, I went on a 30 minute hike around the streets of San Jorge in search for ice cream or sugary ice in a bag, only .5 cents. However, nobody had it! I saw something disturbing along the way: a mother was whipping her daughter as a form of punishment! Nicaragua is way behind the times I reminded myself…
I get to sleep in the best room at the office whenever I come: The Father Wasson Suite. Being the founder of NPH, he has been given many privileges, such as nice accommodations. Since he
Candlelight serviceCandlelight serviceCandlelight service

The kids wrote down a negative behavior they wanted to change on a piece of paper. Later, we burned them.
has passed on, his room is given to important guests who come visit the office. And, when nobody is visiting, I get to use the facilities. It has two very comfortable beds, in a separate room. In the other room, there is cable TV, 2 lazy boys, and a bathroom that once had hot water! However, this particular night, the shower wasn’t working! As it was late, I showered with a plate with a little lid to it while I ran from the sink to the shower to dump water on myself. Most of the water fell to the floor before it made it to the shower….it was quite the experience…
Among other strange things I have done…The day I arrived at the office, I had a very large black stain on my white pants. I had no idea about it until my co worker told me. For a good hour, I was walking around with a very large stain all over my pants…It must have been oil on the launcha when I sat on the floor…I immediately changed and decided to wash my pants in some heavy chemicals, such as Cloro, or bleach. I filled a tub with a lot of chloro and put my pants in to soak. As the day went on, I forgot about them, but figured the longer the better. The next morning, I checked on my pants…which I had forgotten about. Well, there were no pants left. The chemical was so strong, it ate my pants!
I was invited out to dinner by a nice friend and co worker. I love riding on motorcycles. He took me to a restaurant tucked away in the forest. This restaurant has a clean, full pool, a dance floor, a very large TV with cable, and great cheap food! The ride there was the best part. Exploring Nicaragua via motorcycle is definitely the way to go. I got to see neighborhoods I have never seen before. Rivas is definitely more than a market and bus station. The crisp night air felt so nice. Just to be on a motorcycle was so much fun; one has a lot of freedom in a vehicle like that. He can go anywhere he wants. There is really a strong connection between a car and a man’s freedom. Motorcycles are so much better than a stuffed up car. If I had to get
Kenia, Shirley, MeKenia, Shirley, MeKenia, Shirley, Me

Kenia cleans our home. Shirley is at the monestary. Easter service.
a car, it will have a sun roof or be a convertible or jeep. Something that allows you to interact with the outside elements more than a car window will do. Besides the speed bumps to prevent speeding, I also saw random cattle roaming the road, with no owners. These types of things never cease to amuse me…My favorite memories will be the cattle, the ox driven carts, the bicycles with a woman and child on the handle bar as form of transportation, the macho drivers who have no patience for anyone…passing left and right and using the horn just to use it.
Today as I am writing my travel blog, I was put on hold due to a power outage for 2 hours. When these things happen, there is nothing you can do. You just sit back and find something else to do. Thank goodness I had a book or I would have gone crazy! One thing I hate is having my progress on something being stopped or not having work to do. I am one of those people that likes having something to do, especially if I know there is a lot of work to be done. However,
Eleazer and MeEleazer and MeEleazer and Me

Easter service
I have also learned to go with the flow here and appreciate the little things in life, like a good book. I have learned you cannot have control over everything in life. In this world that never sleeps and is plugged into Internet all the time, I forget that reading and journaling are very healthy activities, often overlooked. I guess my western mind is so programmed to always be working. Even when I am on break, I would rather be working or engrossed in a project. However, I have learned to relax sometimes and do absolutely nothing. Even when it seems as if you are not doing anything, you are still doing something. It’s just how you choose to look at it.
My next descansio, or break, I was on my own…the other girls were all doing exciting things. Lola was in Managua shopping. Moniq was in Nueva Guinea with her host family. Tini was in Moyogalpa with her “friend.” I decided to do some fun and interesting things. I went to spots I usually go to, but this time, they had extra meaning, as I was spending them with different people.

My friend from college, Em Liddiard, was
I found some chocolate!I found some chocolate!I found some chocolate!

Tini, a volunteer from Austria, had some chocolate sent with the latest visitor group. For the egg hunt, we hid 78 of these things!
in Nicaragua with her mission school. They were hanging out at the beach and later going to the market. I spent Friday all day at the office, not because I like it, but only because there is high -speed Internet. I have the key to Herty’s office, with whom I share and my own computer. These things are BIG privileges in this life on the island. So, I applied to 2 programs in Japan, one of which I hope I get into for Tokyo. It’s incredible knowing that I can go anywhere I want to at this point. However, my requirements are that they help with flight reimbursement and that I earn a competitive salary for an English teacher. So, more details to follow with my next travels.

Early on Saturday morning, with the hot sun melting my skin at 8am, I was off to see an old friend from my college days, Em. It was much easier leaving from the main land, not having to take a ferry from Moyogalpa at 6am…Next time I come to Nicaragua, I will be living in the big city, not on a secluded island. Everything would be so much easier!
Arriving at the bus station in Rivas, I ran into my little friend. Ever since meeting him in October with my mother, I always see him. One of these days, I am going to give him a gift. He still has his innocence, although he has lived a hard life. I try to convince him to come to NPH, but he tells me that he would rather dictate his future. I don’t think he is ready for an institution with rules. That’s the hardest thing with these street children…they are so used to living on the streets and deciding their own rules that living under authority is very difficult. That’s too bad. However, this little boy brings me joy every time I see his smile. Having been in this orphanage for 16 months, I feel like a mother figure for all the kids I meet on my travels. I think about this little boy and only want him to be happy. Instead of being mad that they are living like they are, I feel a love that only wants to help them get out of the situation they are in.

San Juan is a quick ride only 30 minutes by bus. Since the highway there is now paved, transport is much easier. Before, the bus would have to run through gravel and pot- holes for a majority of the way. This sunny beach heaven where the expression is “no worries” welcomed me. It had been since January since I had been here. Every time I go to San Juan, I am happy. There is too much sun and beach to not like it. Further, accessible by foot, it is very easy to get around. And, ever since 2007, I have had great memories of my time in San Juan.
I waited by the Iguana’s bar at 9am, the time she said she would come. At 9 exactly, a group of gringos arrived at the restaurant. I was convinced it was them…but it wasn’t. I waited until 9:30am until Em and two of her friends came up.
Em is a young woman with a fire for God. For some reason, she reminds me of my younger sister, in looks and personality. Although it had been 3 years since I had seen her, she had not changed. It was comforting to see her! Em is an inspirational young woman. God speaks to her
What a sweetheartWhat a sweetheartWhat a sweetheart

Yuri is very shy but sweet. She reminds me of myself at that age.
in amazing ways. Through Bethany, her mission school in Minnesota, a connection was made with some missionaries in Rivas, Nicaragua. So, a group of students came. Her group was at a camp close to Rivas as well as spending time at a garbage dump close to Managua. A community lives at the dump and Em’s group was there to love on the kids. I think that it is amazing that people go there or even that people live there! I couldn’t imagine having my life lived on a garbage dump…However, those kids deserve all the happiness and opportunities in the world, just like the other kids.

Em shared her mission story with me during the bus ride to Masaya. Her story included listening to what God had in store for her and her choice to obey, meeting inspirational people, and encountering tragic death. Listening to her story was like seeing a puzzle piece being put into the big picture. Although we not know it, God knows what is going to happen. I guess we just have to have faith that each experience will help us shape our futures. Her faith was tested when she was involved in a pretty
The wounded birdThe wounded birdThe wounded bird

Wonder why our kids get sick? Well, they touch wounded birds.
bad car accident. Three of the 6 missionaries of her organization died…Em was spared with the least injuries. However, her 21- year- old friend, Jessica, died. How young…Can you imagine? Em seems to be doing well and has only grown from the experience. After sharing that story, I tried to think of how lucky we are all to be alive today, to be at the beach, laughing and having fun. The best part was swimming in the ocean with the monster waves. The water is such a great gift from God…there is nothing better than enjoying something so simple and yet so fun! It was fresh and cooling to the monster heat outside.

Masaya market was fun. Although we were just at the popular one for tourists, it was still fun. My friend from the Managua Rotary, Fidelefo, offered to be a guide for the group. However, his mother was sick that day. However, it worked out without him. I had fun helping with bartering and helping them choose gifts. I had some to by myself.

My time with the missionary group was very freshening to my soul. Whenever I am in the presence of really confident people
My roomMy roomMy room

Personally, I love my room. It is full of color.
who I know have Jesus in their life, I am always awakened, spiritually. They welcomed me in like a sister of Christ. We prayed before our meal and they gave thanks to God for my presence. I have not grown very close to the other volunteers in our 4 months together partly because they do not share my same faith. But, in one afternoon, I felt like a sister in Christ with this mission group. Isn’t that amazing to the testament of Jesus? Sisters and brothers in Christ hold such strong bonds with me that I do not share with other people.

Among interesting things, besides random cattle, we passed a funeral. If it weren’t for the coffin, you would have never guessed. There was a band playing peppy music…Perhaps the Nicaraguans believe that death should be a party? Well, I guess it could. The dead are in a better place where there is no suffering and plus, you get to see Jesus sooner!

I said goodbye and was off to Granada. Ever since meeting Mark and Lorine on the plane, I have been to their English classes and have enjoyed coming back. They give me an experience that is real that I have not had coming to this town as a tourist before. They are interacting with the people of Granada, something I have been hungry to do for quite some time. This time, I thought I would come to Granada; after all, I didn’t have a plan. I left Masaya at 5:15 and arrived in Granada at 5:50pm. I had no time to change before going to classes. I would just have to show up, in my stinky bathing suit with all the sand still on my body. Thinking back on my time with Em, from the beach we went to the market; there was no place to shower or even no time in between…I showed up right on time Mark and Lorine’s home, which is early for many others. I was a little embarrassed for my attire and current state, which was with a bulging eye that throbbed and with sand and sweat all over my clothes. I looked like I had just come out of a gym. On a good note, English classes were amazing, as usual. I was so happy to see everyone again, all of who remembered me. For dessert, we ate pineapple cake. Even in Granada, Lorine is still capable at cooking interesting and delicious things with the ingredients available.

The next day, I spent at the hostel. However, the hostel is so boring and I was alone…as I said, I prefer to be working on a project or be interacting with real people from the city. It is fun meeting other tourists, but for some reason, it is not enough or meaningful enough. Being restless, I took the long walk to the beach, by myself. I kind of like to be independent; it gives me a chance to reflect and think, which I cannot do with some people. Some people give energy and other rob it. Being by myself, I get re-booted in a way. I walked along the road, getting further and further away from all the touristy areas. I passed many kids who asked for things. And, I gave them what they asked for. They asked for my juice. And, when I was prepared to share it by pouring it in their mouth, they felt embarrassed for some reason…However, some played along. I always enjoy interacting with the kids. No matter how bad they may be, they
Jeffrey and MeJeffrey and MeJeffrey and Me

We are waving at Susan, my friend and his Padrina, or Godmother
are still kids that have so much happiness. They are not afraid to ask for what they want and they are not afraid to have fun, that’s for sure. I loved passing residential neighborhoods with people passing the day outside or watching the baseball game. As a tourist, I hardly get out of the market or touristy areas. To venture out was really a treat. I got to see what life was on the other side of the fence so to speak. I was tired of same old same old. I wanted some meaning and something different.

I finally got to the beach; there is a beautiful boulevard along the shore. If it weren’t for the trash, the area would be more enjoyable and more beautiful to look at. Just as in Spain, the boulevard leads to the beach, or lake. At the bottom, instead of the Columbus statue, there is some other statue. And, there was no trash in Las Ramblas in Barcelona…Walking down here instantly reminded me of my home, Barcelona. I miss it a lot. I will go back to visit her one day.

I parked down next to a palm tree. To my left
The chicken pot...The chicken pot...The chicken pot...

Ever wonder where the parts of the chicken go after it is killed? Well, the chicken pot!
were a young couple making out. Just as in Spain, there is no sense of privacy, as young people usually live with their parents until they marry. All displays of affection have to be done in public from that point on. To my right were some kids playing in the lake with clothes on, of course. Bathing suits only exist for the people with money. I had a lot on my mind and when that usually happens, I write my thoughts all down. Since I had no diary with me, I wrote 10 pages worth of thoughts on scrap paper.

I left after I got too hot and hungry. Little trips like those need to be planned, as it is about 20 minutes on foot to the hostel. I wasn’t at the hostel for long, only an hour or so. After talking with some friends online, I was back out. At that point, I didn’t think I could relax and even read a book. I had something better on my mind. I decided to pass by Kenia’s house, Ivis’s sister whom I met the other week. She has a genuine side to her, is intriguing and personable, qualities I
Profile of the chicken potProfile of the chicken potProfile of the chicken pot

I have never seen a pot this big!
hardly fine in Latina women. I passed by their house, the only pink one with lots of trees. The Martinez family lives in a humble home on the outskirts of Granada. It is a typical home, with a garden and porch, a washer board and small quarters. I was a bit restless at that point as I was looking for some companionship. I got lucky, because in good Nicaraguan spirit, she welcomed me in like an old friend. After some coffee and cake and dancing to Soca and Palo de Mayo music (both from the Atlantic Coast), I was off.

I walked back. Heck, I was getting a lot of exercise this trip! It is a good 15 minutes by foot every time I go back and forth. I walked back, all fresh. I think that was the third shower I took that day. Not seeing her, I walked to her home. Her mother told me she already left. I walked back to our meeting place. Kenia finally showed up, still on time, another characteristic I love about her. There would be no boys, as her brother was nowhere to be seen and her boyfriend had some business to
Jader and me and the dogJader and me and the dogJader and me and the dog

The dog seems dead...but it isn't. I think she is sleeping...
take care of. So, it was a ladies night out.

Kenia and I really connect. On the second time seeing her, we were already talking like good friends. I definitely do not have this type of interaction with other Latina women, really only knowing one from Managua. However, she does not open up as much as Kenia does with me. I guess I found something special. I do not know if it has anything to do with your family status. In my experience, the poorer classes seem to be very relational, more than the families that have it better. When you don’t have a hard life, you forget to work on your relations, which poorer people have to rely on at times for survival.

I felt so privileged to be in the company of such a nice and beautiful girl! Those Latina’s really have it going on. In a matter of 2 hours, she ran into 7 people that she knew. This always happens in Nicaragua. In MN, I am lucky if I run into one of my friends…I also ran into the ex boyfriend of another one of our former volunteers. It was nice for him to
The walking info mercials!The walking info mercials!The walking info mercials!

Remeber the sellers who shove their way on the bus? Well, check out this guy: he has so many veggies. To select, just pull down on the bag and it will release.
still be friendly although the connection was lost when Sana left. Some months ago, the same happened in San Juan del Sur. You are just bound to run into people here….

At the end of the girl’s night, I was invited to Bluefields, now my second invitation. Some of her family would be there and I was encouraged to come visit. From my perspective, I didn’t see why not. It is my right to travel and see the world, let alone Nicaragua. Plus, I leave very soon and I have no idea when I will be back. Plus, I love to travel to new and edgy places off the beaten path .I have another connection with Bluefields from a woman named Carol from Minnesota. She started a few non- profit initiatives down there and she has always invited me. Now that I have two connections, I figured it was time.

Taking a later ferry, I spoke with Scott, from the Peace Corp on the island. I am trying to make a stronger connection between NPH and other goodwill organizations and I had randomly met Scott on a public bus. Just another testament to how small this country this

My lake adventure: Lake Nicaragua
is. A man must have over heard me talking, as he asked if I worked for NPH. Telling him I did, he said he was a friend of Asa and Tecla’s in Boston. Tecla is a veteran volunteer from NPH. The couple had some donations and was hoping to drop them off at NPH but had not communicated with anyone. Thank goodness I was there to help them and what a coincidence! In their rented car, they brought me out to eat pizza. They have a five and eight year old and apparently go traveling every year, always to an exotic location. I was happy to see kids traveling at such a young age to a third world country. Most would never dare it, given the bacteria. However, in Latino America, which is very family friendly, it is a location the whole family can enjoy. Who needs a babysitter? Bring the whole family to the polka dance or what so ever. Living abroad with little kids can be done. Further, if you are careful, you can avoid getting sick. Further, if the parents of the family unit are already used to traveling, this routine does not need to stop once
The churches of GranadaThe churches of GranadaThe churches of Granada

To the left and further back, there is the main cathedral of Granada. To the right, iglesia Guadalupe.
you have kids. Instead of changing your lifestyle for them, incorporate your kids into your lifestyle. That’s how it should be anyways…the parents are the bedrock and the kids adapt to them. You don’t live for your kids…you live for your marriage and everything will naturally fall into place. Their life as a family unit reminded me of how I wish to proceed in life some day. My kids will be travelers even before they will be able to speak. Although this is not a concept (of bringing young kids, even babies, abroad to a third world country) my family will understand, having traveled myself and seen a lot, I know it can be done. The human body can tolerate a lot; it is very adaptable.

The night we got back, it was like experiencing a horror movie. Lola started going crazy, for the flying bug the size of a small bird that suddenly came out to play. It was at least 5 inches long. Preparing for the worst, she got the broom and put on her sweater; the more cover the better. For a half an hour, we screamed for this bug, treating it as a venomous snake.

The dogs sleep all the time, even inside churches!
Us ladies ran into our rooms the minute we thought it may come attack us. Lola ended up hitting it with the broom. Although we haven’t seen it since it hid in the bookshelf, we think it is dead. I guess I will find out tonight….

Turns out that the bug was really dead. However, I did not sleep too well just imagining the monster bug biting its way into my mosquito net…The next days were very slow, as the internet had gone completely out on the island. Usually, there are just problems at the volunteer home and directors home while internet still works at the office and clinic. Well, I don’t know if it was the wind, but we were left with no connection to the outside world (how I felt) for some days. The next day, I took a ferry to the offices on the mainland, just to be able to do my job.
Riding the launcha at 6 in the morning is not pleasant, especially as this boat rocks back and forth so much. I felt like an illegal immigrant being shoved into the back, sitting on a piece of wood while protecting my stuff from
Kenia and IKenia and IKenia and I

Ladies night out at Tele Pizza. What a cheap and great place to eat! And, they had an option for those who cannot eat dairy. I was quite impressed. Practically all of Granada was here that night.
getting wet from the little holes. I was not having fun... My feet were constantly wet and I had to push up my pants. For some reason, although it was only lake water, my feel felt so dirty afterwards and they smelled...Getting to the office changed that when I was able to do my work and have a fan. I quickly changed shoes too.

This past week I have been continuing my art projects, to continued success. This time, we continued with magazine collages. The girls enjoyed looking at the pictures more than ripping them up to create the art project, since they don’t own magazines. I also started my English store and hope it will encourage kids to study and do their homework.

I hope the rain will come for good here. We had another sneak preview April 22nd. This was the same day I played house guard for the ex pequena who tries to steal stuff from our home. As my clothes were out drying, I put them all inside, wet, and when I was back at the home, put them out. It is always a game here. You can't leave anything out without fear of
Bus to NandaimeBus to NandaimeBus to Nandaime

The people just pile on the bus. Often the gopher boy who gets people on will carry your child for you if you need a free hand.
it getting stolen.

But, the kids still continue to be great. I loved returning from the office for a week. The kids thought I was in the United States. They notice when I am gone and for this I am fortunate that they care. I miss them too. Leaving to the office is necessary but crunches on my time to spend with my kids, only about one month left!

Additional photos below
Photos: 26, Displayed: 26



El Dario y El Prensa, two of Nicaragua's newspapers. Clevor idea of pinning them to the fence.
The Carlson familyThe Carlson family
The Carlson family

The family I met on the ferry who bought me pizza. They are actually friends of Tecla and were on their way to NPH. What a small world!

25th April 2009

I read your whole blog and it was really great the way you interact with everyone. I really hope you make it to Bluefields. Do a huge post about the people and how they live and the trash and if the bay stinks and the food and everything. No travelbloggers ever go to Bluefields and I have been waiting and waiting for someone to visit and I hope you make it there and do just a huge blog all about Bluefields!! I was thinking about moving to Bluefields but no one ever visits there. I bet it is like the best place. All remote like an island but still on the mainland. Good luck with your trip.

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