Thursday, February 25, 2010


So I had a nice little post about drinking juice out of plastic bags that will just have to wait for a later date because last night I felt my first tremor! I was chilling in bed watching a DVD on my laptop when my bed starting wobbling back and forth. I live next to the highway and large trucks routinely shake the house, but this was not the same kind of shake. It only lasted maybe 10 seconds, but scared the crap out me as I laid there convinced a bigger tremor was to follow. Thankfully nothing did, though I didn't sleep well.

So today I mentioned to my counterpart Axel that I had felt a tremor last night, he said he didn't feel anything. Then I went online and found this. Apparently it was a 5.9 on the Richter scale out in the ocean off San Juan del Sur. No injuries or damage have been reported, but tremors were felt up and down the Pacific Coast.

I'm glad that I'm cleared of being crazy, because I was feeling a little nuts not having my experience collaborated. Now I can check Earthquake off my things to experience in life, and quite frankly I'd prefer not to repeat it ever again!

Friday, February 19, 2010

¡Feliz Cumpleaños!

Monday I turned 26, so I spent the weekend in Granada with a bunch of volunteers taking advantage of the tasty food and night life that the city has to offer. We made a no bake cheesecake mix my friend Laura sent me a while back and we each ate a slice veeeeeery slooooooowly to savor the amazingness. My friend Liz’s birthday is this week as well so they made us hold candles and sang to us:

I decided to make Saturday my birthday since Monday is clearly not a good day for a birthday. My friend Dianne bought me an amazing birthday present: my very first professional massage! So I did that, ate a giant hamburger, and we made guacamole and fried tortilla chips:

The best guac ever:

As if that wasn’t enough, we made the whole package of Chips Ahoy my friend Melanie sent me disappear in under a minute. Needless to say, we were happy campers. That night we got all dressed up and hit the town. Since some of us don’t get to go out very often, we went all out and my friends did my hair and makeup:

Dianne, my makeup artist:

Liz straightened my hair and I barely recognized myself:

The whole group:

We sang some karaoke and then went to a Chinese New Year/Valentine’s Day dance party at some hotel and, as we like to say here, danced our faces off.

Monday itself was very tranquilo, I was planning with one of my counterparts and mentioned it was my birthday so he and another teacher were joking that they were gonna go find some eggs. See, in Nicaragua the tradition is to egg the birthday person and then throw flour on them! I told them to forget I said anything and thankfully they didn’t follow through on that one :)

And to top it all off, my NGO English class had cake waiting for me at class on Wednesday. They sang the Nicaraguan birthday song Las Mañanitas which is much longer and more awkward to sit through than the Happy Birthday song, but also much prettier.

Overall, another successful Nica birthday. And thanks for all the birthday messages and phone calls!

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Back to Class

School started last week. Here’s how it went:

Tuesday: first official day of class. I went to the instituto, got presented during the first day of school “acto” (which is still a word I can’t figure out the best English translation to. Lyceum maybe?) but the class schedule wasn’t ready and all the students went off with their sort of homeroom teacher so I left.

Wednesday: I went to my country school, they didn’t have the schedule ready yet so I caught up with my counterpart and other teachers, hung out with my students, and left on the 2:00 bus.

(You may be wondering, how the class schedule was not ready before classes!? Well, first of all students enrolled for class two weeks before the start of classes so they didn’t have all summer to prepare , then it’s the case at most schools that they are figuring out the schedule by hand. It does help that the students all stay together and receive the same classes, but it’s still complicated. It is not unheard of that making the schedule can take a week or more out of classes, and even then problems occur and changes have to be made. They’ve already changed the schedule once at my country school.)

Thursday: Final site visit! My boss came down and we went to both of my schools so she could talk to my counterparts and the principals. Everyone was positive & sad to hear of my imminent departure in July. I got a general idea of schedules from my counterparts and told them both I would see them this week because a) I’ve decided not to work Fridays this year because I think I missed every Friday class for like two months at the end of last year and b) we hadn’t planned anything anyway.

This week it’s been back to planning with my counterparts, back to class, back to routine.

On Sunday I knew that it was an anniversary of having arrived in Nicaragua, but I literally had lost track of the months! I had to count on my fingers and realized that it was my 21 month anniversary. I’ve lived in Nicaragua longer than I lived in DC (just over a year and a half). And much like my final months in DC, I’m kinda starting to check out mentally. I’ve been spending a lot more time at home, putzing around the house and reading instead of kicking my lazy butt out the door to talk to people and integrate. I do still hang out with my usual friends, and all that but I keep catching my mind wandering towards the mythical end of my service. What I’ll do, where I’ll go, and most of all, what I’ll eat :) I’ve lost a bunch of weight here but I’m pretty sure the junk food binge I’ll go on when I get home (mmmm, onion rings…) will put me right back where I was when I left.

I swear I’ll have a more exciting post next week, I’m celebrating my birthday early with my PCV friends this weekend during some festival in Granada so that’s sure to produce something blog-worthy.

Monday, February 1, 2010

What color is my parachute??

When my parents came in December I asked my dad to bring me a copy of the book What Color Is Your Parachute? I assume most people have heard of it, but in case you haven’t, it gives job search tips and has exercises to help people figure out what career is right for them. Now that I have less than six months left, I figure I should start putting together some sort of a plan. I’ve gone through most all of the exercises and now I’m going to enlist the help of my faithful blog readers in two things.

The first, is where would be a good place for me to live?? The book says to make a list of traits you want in your home and then ask people if they can think of a place that has most or all of those traits. I’m generally open to anything in terms of size, small cities up to major ones are fine and region isn’t too important but I’m thinking more Midwest and west coast this time around. Unfortunately some of the traits I came up with are a little difficult to see on the ground, but here’s my list anyway and let me know if it reminds you of a place you know (btw, San Francisco, Chicago, & New York are already on my list):

1. A sense of community (yes, I know, that’s hard to see or feel in a place – but I came to this one in response to living in DC where half the population is only there for a year or less so people come and go a lot and don’t make it their home very often)
2. Walkable – as in, I can walk to the grocery store
3. Bikeable – as in, bike lanes or at least space to bike in
4. Arts & culture events – preferably a dance studio, or at least a yoga class
5. Safe – within reason, not hearing gunfire at night is a plus
6. Mild climate – somewhere between Minnesota (really cold) and Nicaragua (really hot), but this isn’t a deal breaker
7. Educated, down to earth population – hard to quantify, not rednecks and not hoity toity DC socialites either, or hipsters
8. Public transportation – if at all possible, not a deal breaker either
9. Single, young people –the old ladies in Nicaragua have pardoned me for not being married yet, but I have been told that I must get on that when I go home
10. Nightlife – a salsa club would be fantastic
11. I’m adding one more that I just thought of: a sizeable latino population which would make it easier for me to use my Spanish, hopefully in my job

(I would just like to note that as I’m writing this, the wind is throwing untold amounts of dust into my house and attempting to rip off my roof. I hate February in Nicaragua.)

Ok, second order of business. What should I do?? I like the nonprofit sector, am interested in government, but I’m not sure exactly what kind of job I want to do for the rest of my life (I’ve entertained urban planner, program manager, public administrator, teacher or principal, and a whole host of other careers) and of course, whether I need a masters and what I should study. I plan to do some informational interviews and talk to lots of people when I return stateside but to ease some of my frustration with the fact that I will have to wait till I get home to do the majority of that research, I’m asking you all. Again, taking some exercises from the book:

1. Field: I’m interested in community development in general, I hope to use my Spanish, and have enjoyed designing and implementing projects for my Peace Corps work.
2. Environment: I cannot sit in an office for 40 hours a week again. First of all, it absolutely killed my back and second of all, being on a computer all the time makes me feel like a potato. I want a balance of working with people and working alone.
3. Skills: some skills I’d like to use include creating professional relationships, researching and sharing information, and working on budgets, managing the different facets of projects.

So there you go. There is, of course, the possibility that I won’t come home right after Nicaragua since there are a couple Peace Corps opportunities I’m looking at as well as just looking for a job abroad again. Luckily tomorrow I’ll have something to take my mind off all of this as I start classes again and have to relearn a couple hundred names.