Wednesday, February 17, 2010

My life in Spanglish

Hello big beautiful world,

Greetings from La Paz de Carazo, Nicaragua. I’m not really sure how this whole blogging business is to be done, but I’ll go ahead and do my best and fake it.

Well as of today I have officially been in Nicaragua for four weeks, my my how time flies. I’m finally starting to feel like I’m getting into the groove of things here (minus the whole Spanish proficiency thing). Nonetheless I am really enjoying my time here and am in awe at how quickly the last four weeks have flown by.

So what have I been up to? As I’m sure you’re all just dying to know (I hope that sarcasm can be sufficiently conveyed via blog, as previously stated I’m new to this whole thing). Well as far as the job front goes, my fellow training site mates and I have been working on forming a youth group in our town. We’ve successfully had four meetings now with about ten kids or so (mas o menos). The first few meetings have really just been spent getting to know one another, often in broken Spanish which amazingly does the job when paired with humor. The meetings also include my site mates and I presenting a charla (basically an informal and interactive presentation over a health related topic). Ideally, the objective is to educate our youth -over the topic, as well as how to present the information to others- in hopes that in time they too will be able to present such information in the future. It has been an interesting project thus far, the kids in our group are really fantastic and we manage to have a pretty good time. We are getting together to play volleyball tomorrow, which should be great. Certainly entertaining for them, if any of you have ever witnessed me playing volleyball you should understand why.

In addition to our youth group we have each been preparing individual charlas to give at the local health center and at the primary school here in La Paz (three at the health center, and one at the school). My partner Juancito and I gave our first this week over Dengue. It went well, though I was slightly nervous. I will be giving another in two weeks over HIV/AIDS and I’m really looking forward to it. In addition to charlas and youth group meetings, my group and I are also working on a survey regarding HIV/AIDS which we are to administer and analyze in the next few weeks. Overall, what we do here in our training town is primarily for the sake of training, as what we are practicing here is a lot of what we will be doing (on a larger scale) at our sites in the future. I guess I should go ahead and explain that my 24 fellow trainees and I will be spending a total of three months in our respective training towns, ending in April when we are sworn in and officially hold the title of a PCV. Following our swearing in, we will all head to our assigned “sites” in various cities (I use this term loosely as some of us will be placed in relatively rural pueblos) all throughout Nicaragua. There, we will remain for two years, and there, the real work begins. Thus I have been learning a lot through this training process, and continue to garner excitement about the work I will be doing at my site (April is just a hop and a skip away).

Enough of that work business, so this weekend was the start of La Paz’s “festivales patronales.” It is essentially a week long party celebrating “Our Lady La Paz.” In short, a week of fiestas, showcases of Nicaraguan culture, dancing, and bulla (NOISE, and lots of it). This weekend was really a good time. I missed the festivities Saturday because I had class for most of the day and then went to Granada with a couple of other trainees (and their host families) that night. Anyway, Sunday afternoon there was the annual “hipica,” a competition/parade of horses. It was sort of like an SEC tailgate, where the football was replaced by horses, the Bud Light replaced by Tona, and frat attire replaced by cowboy hats and denim…all other components were present (including a man in a Confederate t-shirt). It was pretty fantastic as the pictures should attest. Later that night there was a fiesta, conveniently three houses down from mine at the town Alcaldia (municipal building). I went with my host sister, two cousins, and another trainee Juancito. It was a pretty good time, though I found myself having unfortunate flashbacks of middle school dances and the inevitable awkwardness that accompanied them (the strobe light and abundance of 13 year olds really added to this sentiment). But overall it was really fun and the strobe light made my horrific dancing less obvious to those around me (or so I hope).

Aside from the previously listed activities I’ve just been spending a lot of time getting to know my host family (who are utterly amazing), working on getting this language business down, and eating more rice and beans than I have ever consumed in my life (I type this with an endearing tone). Overall, I really look forward to each new day and whatever new and exciting nonsense it will hold (today it was the discovery that the family dog Lassie is actually a boy… I have been referring to him as a girl for the past four weeks, poor old chap). Alright, I suppose I’ll cut my rambling off now. Ta-ta for now dear friends, but before I go I will leave you with my address for the next two months (in case you’re feeling crazy and want to send something my way).

Katie Aldon PCT
Voluntario de Cuerpo de Paz
Apartado Postal 3256
Managua, Nicaragua
Central America

It is apparently best to send small packages through U.S. mail as to avoid nonsense with customs (Fed-ex and UPS are apparently quite a hassle), but nothing would brighten my day more than a letter (in English…please!). Until next time…

Peace, love and fiestas,