Sunday, August 26, 2012

hurry up and wait - plus a few fun things

i've managed to complete four weeks at site. it has been a wide range of emotions, and i can see why they say we go through a second round of culture shock once we get to our sites.  after leaving the comfort of our training bubble and all of our friends, being out on your own gets to be exciting/difficult/fun/different/challenging/boring/frustrating/adventurous/lonely at times.  get the idea of the wide range of emotions?  with work specifically, a lot of it has felt like hurry up and wait. trying to schedule things and then things have fallen through or gotten snagged on certain procedures. at first i felt like things were taking off quickly, but now it seems more like a poco a poco build up in the workload.  honestly, that's probably better. even though i've had plenty of time to kill as a result...

here are a few things i've done recently:
one of my new neighbors/archenemy-
foghorn leghorn

my new arch-enemies are chickens. roosters to be specific. there are several that have residence here in my home. my uncle raises them to fight apparently. i learned this is also illegal to do in the city limits, but no one seems to care. there also is a very large rooster with the chickens to make sure we get more chickens. he looks like foghorn leghorn. so foghorn leghorn is my new neighbor. and he wakes me up at 330am every day now. i'm told their leaving soon. my uncle is moving out in a month or two i guess. i still joke with the family that we should eat them one day as justice for them waking me up in the middle of the night. i told them we'll grill a beer can chicken. they are fascinated by the idea. anyone have a good recipe for that? i've done it once at a guy's house in college...

somewhere along the way
my first weekend in town i climbed tepe-somoto, the large hill/small mountain to the south of the city with my sitemate, james. it was a fun time, but the trip probably could have taken about 3.5 hours less if we hadn't stopped and talked to everyone our guide knew along the way.  we stopped at several places and had coffee, rested, ate, and then kept walking.  it was comical at times because we were convinced that even our guide, carlos wasn't sure where he was going.  especially when we had to stop and pick up a friend of his to show us to the top.  then they sat and argued about the best way to go down. oh nicaragua! it was a good time though, and not too difficult.  by the time we got to the top we were in a cloud forest which had dense vegetation that we had to climb through.  unfortunately, the top is covered in trees, so we didn't get much of a view since it was combined with the clouds, but it was still worth the trip.

stopping for a coffee break at a family that lives
on the mountain

near the top

in a random corn field!
pretty sure this was a discussion
about which way we should go down

a view from afar. our guide's house is the one you can see.
yes, we business volunteers can get
dirty too
no less than 1.5 weeks into being at site, i was sent off on a trip to learn how to make improved ovens in chinandega.  improved ovens use less firewood, retain heat better, etc and are generally more efficient than the normal cement ovens used here in nicaragua.  i was sent because one of my orgs has a grant to build several in surrounding rural communities and teach groups of women how to bake and start a business with their newly acquired oven. two of my counterparts from the org were supposed to join me, but then at the last minute decided not to because of a road block in a neighboring town. granted, the road block and already ended, but that was why they said they couldn't come.  another reason is that PC and the HQ in managua for this org are still working out details of what i'll be doing with them and the liabilities and such. so i went alone. it took me 3 buses (only one of them comfortable) and 6 hours to get there, but i finally made it and got to get dirty making some ovens out of mud.  it was a fun time and i got to meet some other pcvs from other sectors too.
making the chimney

almost finished

the nica/pcv crew

finished product!

my family here at site now wants one after i told them about the benefits of the improved stoves and ovens. they want to build one of each. it might be good practice for me! ha. sadly, work with the org i'm going to be doing these ovens has gotten snagged and is currently being worked out by the higher ups between the two orgs. i had a few community visits planned once i got back from the workshop, but wasn't able to do them.  i'm hoping things are worked out soon because i am really excited to get started with this project.

i judged an english singing competition at the local level in one of the high schools i work in.  it was by far the highlight of my week.  i wish i had brought my camera because it was hilarious to see these kids singing "we are the world," "eye of the tiger," "lean on me," "rolling in the deep," and "baby" (by bieber).  keep in mind, these performances included dance moves and choreography. hilarious. the group i thought should have won didn't, but the winning group won by less than a point, so it was a close competition.  the departmental ministry of education has already asked me to judge the departmental contest this week, so i have a second chance to bring my camera and take some pictures/video of this awesome event!

last weekend i went up to ocotal and hung out with several pcvs at carnaval.  it seems like each city in nicaragua has a carnaval at some point in the year depending on their patron saint. it basically turns into a huge street party with several stages of music and lots of dancing. so we all danced it up in the middle of the street in nicaragua! somoto's is in november and supposed to be the "best" in nicaragua, so we'll see what happens then!

those are some of the main things that are happening. with work, things have kind of kicked up but then hit a lull.  partly due to the issues with my one org.  i'm hoping that soon i'll be able to establish some sort of routine between all of them.  right now i have an excess of free time leading me to burn through several seasons of 30 rock, all of the current episodes of game of thrones, plus a few books as well. this coming week is looking a little more busy, and i've finally gotten in touch with the 3rd ngo i'm to work with and they are very excited. they were concerned that they had already "lost" three weeks (put in perspective of the two years i'm here, it doesn't seem that long).

personally, after a month, i can say that i am feeling fairly adjusted to my new way of life. i often catch myself thinking about the two year commitment i made and, depending on my current outlook, it either seems super long or like no time at all.  this month has seemed very slow, but at the same time i can't believe i've already been here for a month and in country for almost four.  i have a feeling this will happen a lot during service, but as my workload increases it will lean towards the "i can't believe how fast time is flying" perspective more.

luckily, i have two sitemates here at site, so i have been able to jump into a new friend/support circle fairly easily, so that has helped with some of the adjustment to site. now my main concern is making some nicaraguan friends and integrating more into the community.  my current goal is to meet someone new every day, or on average every day, throughout the week so that i can at least have people recognize the crazy gringo walking around. things like the english singing competitions help with that.

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