Thursday, May 27, 2010

What a week

I had a nice little blog post planned for this week about the various birthdays that happened last week, but this week's just been so weird I can't help but write about it. So Sunday night I got back from a lovely weekend out and went to bed early and woke up with major stomach pains! I guess that fried chicken (it's always chicken isn't it) wasn't agreeing with me and was looking for every possible escape route - I'll say no more. Around midnight I was able to get to sleep.

I lucked out on Monday that it was rainy and cool and laid around the house attempting to rehydrate and eat a bit, Tuesday I still didn't go to class and enjoyed another cool rainy day, by Wednesday I felt almost normal and the rain was getting a little old especially because the power went out at 5am which means there's no water either and I had a pile of dirty clothes that wouldn't dry even if I could wash them. I ventured out to tell my NGO friends that we wouldn't have class because the power still hadn't come on at 5pm and they informed me that there was something wrong with some towers and we'd be without light for three days! They also told me to get some candles.

Being without power isn't so bad if it's not hot, I actually slept fine last night because the rain kept the house cool but of course my cell phone battery was low so I decided that the best use of my time today would be to come to the office in Managua and charge my phone, run some errands, etc. As it turns out, our fit of rain isn't an official tropical storm but it's causing major flooding in Leon, which is the department north of me. I looked up one of the national newspapers and found out what's causing our power outage: 5 towers fell down!!! Why did 5 freaking towers fall down?? Because people have been stealing the lower supports to sell for money which obviously left them weakened and I'm sure the storm and winds were the final blow to bring them down. I can't get the images to copy so just go look at this article. Scroll down to see the awesome graphic of the tower actually falling over.

The article says that power was rerouted for many of the affected communities but my town, of course, is hit the hardest because the towers are actually in my municipality and it's the only power line so we just have to wait until they can reinforce those things with concrete. Apparently the parts stolen are really expensive and have to be imported so they're reinforcing them with concrete until they can get the parts. Damages are estimated as up to half a million dollars. Eek!

Thus ends A Very Peace Corps Week.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Good times with cross-cultural communication and owls

On Saturday I went to visit my friend Maria for some Gringa Time as I like to call it. Shortly after I got to her place, which sits behind her landlady’s house in kind of a closed-in compound area, the landlady’s boyfriend and his friend started hacking down a perfectly good avocado tree with machetes. We asked them why they were cutting it down and so, as men of few words, they put it very eloquently: “Because.”

After a few more minutes we discovered it was in order to build a wall. A wall for what?? For a house. Huh??? So thankfully the landlady, explained that it’s a wall that will initially be used to hide the grossness of the backyard for her impending wedding to said boyfriend, or I guess, fiancée. Then they’ll add onto it and make a little covered spot for sitting, which we call a ranchón and I can’t think of a good translation in English. It took most of the morning to figure that out.

The other fun part of this whole tree cutting process was that the tree was also the home to a little family of owls who were thusly made homeless. I don’t think I’d ever seen an owl in person before, they’re funny looking little guys:

This is just after this baby owl freed himself from being stuck under the fallen branches:

And now he’s got his head completely turned around backward:

Yes, they cut the tree down with the cars right next to it, dropping at least one large branch on the white one:

To get the little guy out of harm’s way, the friend picked him up in a saco and found him a new home away from falling objects:

Later, when the action had quieted down a bit, the mother and father owls, who had taken refuge in a tree that the babies could fly up to, took to dive-bombing the guy who was hacking the tree into smaller pieces. Quite the Saturday!

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Déjà Vu

On May 7th, 2008 I woke up while it was still dark outside and went to Reagan National Airport in Washington, DC where I boarded a plane to Miami and then caught my connecting flight to Managua. On May 7th, 2010 I did the exact same thing!! Last Friday was my two year anniversary of arriving in Nicaragua and I got to celebrate by repeating my very same itinerary.

Overall, though, it was a pretty anticlimactic day. I got to Managua around noon and went straight to the Peace Corps office to lighten my load by dropping off my really thick medical file (the day I picked up my file from my nurse in DC she told me she’d been collecting a novel on me, and that was only part of it) but I didn’t run into a lot of familiar faces. I got back to my casita safe and sound and honestly felt as if I’d never left.

Monday was a whole other story, though, when I went back to school and realized that I may have left my patience somewhere in DC. I think having had that little taste of my former life and knowing that I will have it again so very soon and for as long as I want it, my tolerance for the screaming and disorder of my school was just very low. It was good to see everyone though, and a number of my students said they’d missed me so that was nice.

My landlord greeted me with the news that she’s hopefully found her next tenant – a Canadian Jehovah’s Witness (of which there are now 4 or 5 I think – including my doppelgangers, the blonde twins who I thought had left but apparently haven’t and I still can’t figure out why anyone would think they’re me or I’m them because whenever I see them they’re always together and I generally am the only one of me walking down the street). The lady wanted more light and air in the house (it’s a little oven in the daytime) so Monday a couple guys came down and banged a hole in my kitchen and one in my living room:

The mason standing on my kitchen counter:

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Back to Nica

I have my plane ticket booked and all my approvals ready to return to Nicaragua on Friday! As it turns out, I have a high-grade (read: bad) tear in the meniscus in my knee which will require surgery in the future. However, they’re letting me go back and finish my service and do the surgery when I’m done in July. I have several reasons for being so gungho about returning, one of which is an uncompleted project and another of which is the 15% I’ll get forgiven off one of my student loans if I can make it to July 16th. Soooo, it’s worth it, the doctor says I just have to “be careful.”

I spent the lovely weekend in New York City bouncing between various friends. It made me realize how much I rely on walking and how annoying it will be when I can’t. Now I’m back in DC continuing to make the rounds among friends here. Despite the obnoxious health issues, I’ve enjoyed having the time to catch up with lots of friends, family, and former co-workers. I’ve been too lazy to post photos, so here are a few (I haven’t taken very many either):

The beautiful flowers my parents sent me in the hospital:

Next to a finger painting (seriously) at the National Gallery of Art:

My friend Julia in New York and the biggest cat I’ve seen in two years:

The new Nationals stadium that they were building right before I left DC: