Saturday, June 01, 2013


I know. I know. It's been like a year since I've written anything.  After a while, things just start to seem normal here.  The fact that I have six roosters outside my window has become common place.  I almost don't hear them any more.  Bucket showers?  Normal.  Much of what I'm doing at the moment has just turned into a daily grind, and it has been hard to take a step back and think about some kind of update for my "adoring public" back home, as my mother has said.  I've been thinking a lot about broader ideas of international development and what it is we're doing here, but that will come another day.  For now, here's an update of life: 

At the beginning of April I had a new trainee visit me in site to see what life is like as a volunteer.  We had quite the couple days of work to do with a wide range of activities.  I put him to work teaching part of a class and then went out to the canyon for some “business consulting.”  He apparently enjoyed his visit a lot because he asked to be placed here too.  Sorry Charlie.  This is my site.  ;)  It was nice to see the fresh perspective he had.  It reminded me of my own optimism (and of course idealism) when first getting to country.  I think it helped give me a little boost in the midst of my frustration. 
Charlie directed a community map activity with the kids.

The idea is they think about what businesses and resources
already exist in the community and what they could possibly
add or start to help compliment what is already there.

Business consulting is tough too.

My birthday came and went.  I turned 27 and entered my late 20s.  A few friends and I went to another city and went rappelling and visited a waterfall.  My buddy from site, Gonzalo, came along and brought a bunch of the gear along and helped set things up for the trip.  It was a short trip, but nice to get out of site for a weekend and relax for a bit. 
It was Lauren's birthday too, so we had a joint celebration.
Cerro del Torro. 70m cliff on that side. 
... and we hiked straight up.
I think Gonzalo almost died carrying the 50+ lbs of gear we had.
He has subsequently made me carry the gear in later trips.
Part of the crew.

Looking out towards Matagalpa.

Getting ready to go.
I was excited at least.  Jessica was terrified.

Cascada Blanca in Matagalpa where we finished off the day.

It was a good day!
I suddenly was swamped with work preparing for an international tourism fair that Gonzalo and I attended.  We’re working on revamping his entire business essentially.  He’s a tour guide based in Somoto, and probably the one with the most experience in the canyon.  We’re trying to position him as a tour operator for more than just the canyon, but for all of the north of Nicaragua.  The hook is adventure tourism, and he is well positioned to grow if we get through this push.  The most recent work has been on marketing materials, which you can see below.  I’ve spent hours and hours on this stuff and probably will never be completely satisfied on the results.  The website is still definitely a work in progress, but a major improvement from what we had before.

Updated logo.

A brochure we made to hand out in hostels, hotels, etc. I joke that I'm leaving my mark quite literally on the business since there are several pictures of me scattered around. 

A Prezi we used during a tourism fair. 

New webpage.  Not all of it is translated yet. 
Clicking on the picture will take you to the website.
The culmination was FENITUR in Managua.  Several Nicaraguan agencies sponsored the event and invited other tour operators from surrounding countries to come and see what Nicaragua had to offer.  We made plenty of good contacts at the event.  The challenge now is follow-up.
Matching shirts and everything!
Gonzalo was interviewed by one of the national papers
and then a story came out a few days later.

That's an update for April.  I'll work on one for May soon. 

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