Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Top Ten

Once again thank you to all have been reading. This is my final post regarding my Nicaraguan adventure, however I am sure with the adventures ahead there will be much more blogging. I leave you all with the top ten things to learn while living in Nicaragua..

10- laxatives and Imodium will began to control your life. Be prepared, not dependant.

9- there are beans and then there are rice, and then if your lucky there is beans and rice together. It's 'Gaillo Pinto' and if your fortunate you will only eat it once a day. :)

8- Rehab may need to be considered when coming back home. Beer is a dollar, and it's super hot.. a pretty dangerous combination.

7- There is an abundance of dogs in Esteli. By day you'd never know it. By night they make up for it. An alarm clock is really unnecessary

6- Getting from A to B can mean anything from walking, hitchhiking, busing, riding on a motorcycle or even many hours on my favourite; the chicken bus etc..

5- 'Timeliness" does not exist and it's best to learn it as soon as possible. Being late doesn't really exist either, It's all 'Nica Time' and it'd be best just to accept it.

4- "I love yous" and marriage proposals are an everyday occurrence. - Don't be flattered and don't accept them.

3- By the time you leave Nicaragua you may be missing clothes and the ones you still have will be stretched and probably with holes, but they will be clean and for that you will appreciate them

2- When the guide book says 'quaint' or 'rustic' be afraid. A rustic bus ride means 2 hours in a cramped bus with chickens, kittens, babies and lots and lots of other people

1- Mangoes fall like the rain. Watch yourself, try not to get hit. You've been warned.

Hope you enjoyed the countdown and all the other ups and downs along the way!

A growing awareness

Awareness of self is a tricky concept to understand and kind of a hard thing to accept if you don't particularly like the new information. If I have come away from this adventure with anything it is a great awareness of self. Many of the things I have uncovered about myself would never have been put into question if it weren't for many of those difficult situations I have since experienced. I had an expectation, a vision maybe that I would enter Nicaragua loving it, if not instantly than very very quickly. "They" said I would pick up the language fairly quickly, and I believed it. I believed that the language barrier would only last a short time, and soon enough I would really be able to communicate with the kids I was working with, the adults I was working for, my family and local friends along the way, however you can't really just 'pick up' a language like you'd pick up some forgotten item at the grocery store. It takes more time, effort and energy than I ever anticipated. In short, I thought I could pick up my life,plant it in some third world country and be the traveling gypsy I have always wanted to be.. but quickly I learned that this 'me' well.. it isn't really me at all.

I had these great expectations for my self and through the last three months I have learned that these are great expectations, wonderful even, but perhaps they are great and wonderful for someone else. At school they push seeing the world, how important it is, how much of a learning experience it will be and how it will forever shape you as a person. All of the above made me want to jump on board , but as I was jumping into this exciting, new, foreign world I thought for some reason I had to leave the other world behind, which has ignited many mixed thoughts and confused feelings. However after the time abroad and many nights spent thinking about it I have finally come to the conclusion that it doesn't have to be one or the other. I know this doesn't sound like rocket science and many probably have no idea why I was thinking such crazy thoughts, but here I am, and yes I was thinking them. I've learned that there is a thing called balance and it can be achieved. I've learned that I can travel to the four corners of the earth, but it doesn't necessarily have to be months at a time, and I've learned that there is no shame in wanting to travel differently. I mean though it is an experience, who really wants to sit in a chicken bus for five hours in the heat? I'll tell you, I think no one! I've also learned that traveling the world and volunteering is a very special experience, but there are also very special opportunities in my own backyard. As much as I thought this trip was about poverty awareness and experiencing a different culture, it was also about me, about who I am, and who in the future I hope to become. Three months took me on a roller coaster of emotions, tested everything I knew and challenged me in ways I never would have expected, and with all that said and done I am a little closer to discovering the true me, and for that i am grateful.

Monday, August 17, 2009

lots of gratitude

With wrapping up the final week of work it has brought many different feelings to the surface. I still have two weeks here but because it's more like a vacation than anything those two weeks have a different mentality. The final days bring happiness, sadness, many goodbyes and an appreciation for all of the wonderful support I have received since leaving three months ago.

Before I left I couldn't tell you how anything would play out, and that even includes the kind of support I would receive from the people I left behind. Now don't get me wrong, I knew everyone would be rooting for me, but I also know that people are very busy. Busy with work, school, family and adventures of their own. However through an abundance of e-mails, letters, phone calls and blog comments I have never felt so loved and supported. Those efforts was enough for me to know 'I'm not alone' especially in the darker days of the trip, and for that I want to thank you all! I couldn't have lasted without the help, I couldn't have lived through the dark days without know the lighter days would come. I am very grateful for having such wonderful friends and family that these last few days have me thinking about you all. Thank you for cheering me on in the times of triumph and comforting me in the times of defeat. Can't wait to see you all!

a little catch up

So first things first, I apologize for basically dropping off the face of the planet and traveling around the rest of Nicaragua. After leaving Esteli the time continued to fly by and I had an amazing time and I am now safe and sound back in the comforts of home. I have a few more posts to add that were written while I was still away and between all of the goodbyes didn't have a chance to post. Hope you enjoy the wrapping up of a very long adventure and thank you for coming along with me.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Communication is Key

I think the most frustrating thing here is the lack of communication. Sure it makes you go with the flow at a moments notice but would it really be that difficult to just get a little heads up once in a while? That´s not how they do things here, although I think it would be refreshing.

I don´t know if it´s the culture, or my lack of Spanish but no one at work likes to tell me anything about anything in advance, regardless of the activity or the time commitment it requires. I´m thinking that most of these celebrations are not planned at a moments notice or anything- just a little hunch I have. If this is culturally how they approach events than I suppose it´s another thing I need to embrace and get used to, but if it´s because I am unable to speak Spanish fluently than I think that is very frustrating! I find it many situations there is no tolerance for people who cannot speak Spanish and when your trying to learn this is very intimidating!

Taking communication for granted has been a huge realization for me in the last three months. You don´t realize how comforting a conversation can be until the lines of communication are cut and you now rely on facial expressions and awkward silences. Randomly striking up a conversation with a stranger can be a great experience allowing you to learn about different people, their background, situations, beliefs etc. Yet here that ability has basically disappeared. I can communicate the minimum with most people and a Little more with those who are patient, but the rest- forget it. The personal connection is lost and that makes me both sad and frustrated. I love learning new things through people, and through the way they live their lives. Here people of all places live a little differently than I do which would allow for very interesting conversation and lessons but I can´t because i am shy and it is a difficult process through broken Spanish. I am disappointed that I was never able to really communicate with the people hear and after a while I had to rely on my fellow BBer´s for communication because otherwise I would have none and be very lonely. The next time I go on any time of trip I hope to learn more basics of the language before coming because I think I underestimated how difficult it would be. Is it bad than one of the things I´m missing most is the ability to strike up conversation anywhere with anyone at anytime?

First Impressions

This is officially my last week of work at Los Pipitos and it´s got me thinking back to they first impressions I had when I first stepped foot into dear old Esteli and what kinds of thoughts I will walk away with once I pack up and head home. Not to anyone´s surprise I´m sure, all my previous expectations FAILED miserably, yet thankfully most of the feelings I had in May have mostly changed for the better into a much calmer version.

For example, after one week of living in a dodgy neighbourhood I pretty much ´hated´ Esteli. Now I never wanted to come out and say HATE but i´m pretty sure there was some serious emotion I was dealing with. I couldn't take the heat, the men, the lack of organization, the language barrier and the fact that I left cheddar cheese behind. After many many conversations with a lot of helpful and caring people the really bad soon got sorted out and the rest, well it kind of faded into the dust. I mean really, I guess even I can do with a little less cheddar in my diet.

It´s refreshing because I will be leaving Esteli on Monday and free from hate. I still have frustration and confusion, it´s still foreign and I still don´t like everything here but I think you could say that about anything that isn´t ´home.´ Heck, you can even probably say it about home. The heat I have finally gotten used to, the cheese is missed only vaguely (shocking I know) and the language barrier has started to come down a little. The lack of organization would take much longer than three months to get used to and the men- well I don´t think no matter how long I love here I will get used to them, but now at least I can tolerate it. It feels strange to look back and try to feel the way I once did. I think a lot of the mix of emotions had to do with pure confusion. Now that I know the people a little better and the town itself it makes me fear less and enjoy my time more. I wish I would have known beforehand that ´things will get better´ because at times I was seriously doubting this advice.

The mix of emotions have all lessened and now I´m left feeling bittersweet. Part of me is ready to close this chapter and head back home to where my family is waiting and another part wishes I could stay and live it a little longer. It´s been such a long and difficult road to finding ´normal´ here that now I just want to sit back and enjoy it a little. The impressions I had when I had been here for a week were mostly built off of fear and ignorance, however I can now say I feel comfortable here, and maybe even like it. I´m glad that my feelings towards this city has changed even if it took so long to do so. Better late than never.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009


As last week came to an end so did some feelings of unease and anxiety. Rather than working a regular week at Los Pipitos classes were canceled as the week was dedicated to home visits for all staff members. When my boss Isabel first told me about these home visits I had no idea what to expect and to be honest I was a little leery of being brought into the ´real´ lives of the children. Before the visits my presence only lingered between the hours of 8 and 3 in a safe and happy environment. This time frame ensured food, water and an abundance of love, but after 3 nothing is for sure and a lot is left up in the air. Once they leave Los Pipitos sadly the real world beckons and it isn´t a very good environment for anyone let along a ten or eleven year old.

If I had a choice about going to the home visits I would have probably refused. Not rudely I assure you, but I think a polite mumble of miscommunication that would free me from my volunteer obligations would be on the menu. My fear of these visits was real, the truth isn´t always pretty and I knew going along with bring me a little bit more out of my comfort zone, and needless to say it did.

Our first visit was with Heydin and her mother. Heydin is a young teenager and has been going to Los Pipitos for many years. She belongs to a single parent family where it literally is just her and her mother. As I first walked into their home I was greeted by both Heydin and her mom, her mom smiling and heydin hugging me. They found two plastic chairs for Isabel and I and the interview begins. Heydin´s home is literally unimaginable. It is a two room cement building with literally nothing in it. They have one light bulb and share the space with a few chickens. After the visit Isabel translates that Heydin´s mom washes other peoples clothes for a living and obviously has very little money. Sometimes they have money for food, and other times they don´t. Isabel assures me that it´s no SO bad, at least there no violence.

No violence? Since when is this the only standard? Walking out of Heydin´s home all I could think of were my shoes. Yes you read right my shoes. I´m walking around Nicaragua in a house where people cannot eat regularly in a pair of $90 berks. They can´t even get a decent meal, and I´m wearing a hundred dollar shoes.. yes grandma they were 100.

Heydin´s visit was the first to break through my comfort zone and there were many after her, 13 in all and they were each tough in their own way. In many visits the first thing I would think of was ´who do i think i am´ I felt very uncomfortable sitting in on the interview while they discussed their personal hardships. I thought that because these were such private matters that they all deserved their privacy, but that´s not how they do it here in Nicaragua.

Last week was a great learning opportunity for me ever though it was tough and uncomfortable. Most learning opportunities like that pull you out of your comfort zone and show you what your made of, and this one did not let me down. This week gave me the ability to see a little more of the whole picture. It showed me once again how important Los Pipitos is to them, even though I was second guessing it in the beginning, and what kind of lives they deal with on a day to day basis. These kids, youth and adults are stronger than they will ever know and for that I am still reflecting on the events of last week. I have never really seen such living conditions, these are homes you see on a world vision commercial, I have also never personally known the people living in them, that in itself is a serious reality check. It makes me want to sprinkle fairy dust all over their heads and free them from what tortures them, be it disability, violence, poverty, everything. For children and youth that experience such difficulty they have amazing spirits. I want to keep their optimism with me and think of it in good times as well as hard times because if they can continue to smile so can you and I.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

feeling bittersweet.

I began my journey here writing in my journal every night without fail and blogging at least once or twice a week. It was a time of reflection, solitude and the only way I could sort out all the crap
that was going on. However, Now, days and days can pass before I even think about writing anything down.

I like to write about the new, the unexpected, the challenging and the frustrating. All of the things I was first worried about all seem so minimal now, it´s crazy how things change so quickly. Since the beginning of the month I have finally felt a sense of calm, a sense that has been long over due. I have a routine, some form of a family, I can walk down the streets and recognize people, I can ride the bus and NOT get lost- it´s a great feeling when your living it comfortably especially after all the bumps in the road in order to get to this place. It´s a very bittersweet moment here in Nicaragua because part of me loves it here finally, and the other half wants to jump on the next plan just so I can see my family.- i guess i like them a bit. All is well here in Nicaragua and it´s crazy to think that in a few short weeks I will be back readjusting to life in Canada. Life is as interesting and crazy as ever.

Friday, July 17, 2009

another week gone

Like most of the weeks here, this one too has flown right by faster than I can even recount. The end of this week brings our countdown to less than one month,the 30th anniversary of the revolution another reality check and of course three more goodbyes! Because the week has been so busy with new things happening here is a quick and choppy description of the week!

Last weekend I had a little taste of home between the many Tonas (local beer) and nachos I heard a very familiar sound, yet very unfamiliar for Esteli.. Can you guess?

¨She thinks my tractors sexy, it really turns her on.¨ Yah I know, country music playing in Esteli, Nicaragua.. it was crazy.. and I think very unappreciated by MANY of the customers. A little piece of home was very nice to have on that Friday night.. although some how i don´t believe it will ever happen again since I was about the ONLY person in the whole place happy with the change of music, but hey we can´t have everything.

After the delight I found in a little country music I also had another piece of home basically delivered to my doorstep. With the two familiar faces traveling all the way from Canada for a week visit was all it took for me to realize how much I really do miss home. 2 BB alumni, Brittany and Becca came to Esteli for a week allowing Becca to check in with all the friends she had made last year and introduce Brittany to the Nicaraguan culture. Just having them pop into my life here had me blubbering like a little baby with diaper rash- it was redic. God only knows how I will react when my own two feet touch Canadian soil, but I´m thinking it will be a good idea for the parents to back some Kleenex.. just in case. I´m hoping to remain my calm cool and collected self but seeing how that self never really got on the airplane with me, all is up in the air.

This week was FULL of festivities in Esteli, and really all over Nicaragua because it was the 30th anniversary of the revolution. We had short work weeks and long week ends to celebrate in true Nicaraguan style. It is really something special to be present in such a huge celebration in a different culture. Though I didn´t exactly understand everything I was very happy to be able to attend the celebrations, take pictures, buy shirts and go out with the locals after. Even though the language barrier proved understanding to be a bit difficult it is great just to be fully present with the people and watch their reactions, you can see how important this event is just through their faces regardless of the language. Esteli has a separate celebration than the rest of Nicaragua. The capital, Managua has a huge celebration today which I thought about doing but with the buses, taxis and masses of people I think I am content with the celebrations here on Thursday avoid the headaches Managua often gives me.

It´s hard to believe my work placement only has 2 full weeks left, and with this new project I am working on I really only have one week left of working with the children. This next week will be structured differently because I am doing home visits with my boss. These visits are to check in on the parents, the conditions of their homes, possible violence and the availability of food in the home. I can´t really say much to the parents but I can listen and use my eyes to evaluate it and my boss, Isabel does the interview. I think that this week will be a difficult one in regards to their living conditions because many struggle and live below the poverty line. It will be difficult but it is necessary for me to leave having an accurate depiction of the children and their lives in Nicaragua.

Friday I had another great opportunity to work with another group of students. Los Pipitos was closed from Thursday - Tuesday where as everyone else had to to work on Friday, so instead of just hanging out at my house and sleeping in to a ridicules hour I went to the University with Megan and Malinda ( 2 other BBers) and worked with them for the morning. They are helping a group of British students teach a three week English program to students in Esteli. This was a great opportunity because I was able to meet another group of people that I would have otherwise missed. They were all so friendly and eager to learn that it was a great morning. Mind you, I didn´t really do too much I was still able to help a few students and watch Megan and Malinda in action, and it was very much worth it, plus there is always the siesta after lunch.

Sunday, July 12, 2009


WoW! I have not been able to stop, drop and collect my thoughts for about two weeks now. It´s crazy how time flies when you are BUSY and ENJOYING your day to day life. Things in Esteli are still difficult but they are finally getting better and I am happy- with all the previous bumps in the road, this in itself feels like an accomplishment.

This week all the children attending school received a week of holidays, and as Los Pipitos tries to resemble any other school in Esteli, they two had the holiday meaning some serious travel time for me! As I think about it now I should have known that this little vacation wouldn´t necessarily revolve around the beach and multiple cervezas because apparently my ´vacation´is a little different that what my travel buddies call a vakay, and so the adventure begins. This week the crew consisted of Sara, a BB alumni, Austin a new arrival from Canada, Siobhan, Marissa and yours truly. To tell you this trip was nothing but a laugh from beginning to end would be nothing short of the complete trip.

Our adventure to Granada and Ometepe started with us missing the express bus to Managua on Sunday resulting in an EXTRA long bus ride to the capital. Thank god for gravol. After a hot cramped three hour bus ride to Managua we had a second bus waiting for us which would take us to Granada, and that bus too was HOT, CRAMPED and had a very interesting group of passengers. One family had their pet bird out for a walk, while one disoriented man boarded bleeding from various places on his face. There were tourists, people protecting birthday cakes, four to a seat and my favourite -periodically men and women would board the bus with the soul intention of selling goods, and a variety of goods they were. Anything from ´cold´ water to watches to mystery meat dishes- just in case you got the urge to munch.

Granada- six hours, 2 buses and 1 taxi later proved to be worth it. Cathedrals, restaurants and shops all over the town were painted bright colors. We had a romantic carriage ride, all five of us that is and we received a great history lesson and the crazy William walker and all to do with Granada.I spent a fair chunk of change in Central Park because all the local artists were out displaying their works, and really who am I to say know to beautiful jewellery..
While in Granada fate jumped in and handed us two more travel buddies. Juan and Justin, both Canadians and oddly enough friends with BB alum Sara. We ate dinner at the Bearded Monkey which has a reputation for delicious burritos. They may not be tacos at Ethel's but they were nothing short of heaven.

The next morning like ALL mornings on our ´vacation´ began before I thought it was humanly possible. The trek to Ometepe was one requiring an over dosage of gravol, 2 buses, a taxi, one ´ferry´ and a whole lot of Nicaraguan booty in the face- My favourite. Ometepe is a beautiful Island surrounded by two very intimidating volcanoes, fresh water sharks and it´s fair share of beautiful beaches. The sun here is Nicaragua proved to be a strong little buggers and burnt my butt to crisp in a matter of minutes even WITH the SPF. You´d think my butt has gone through enough with the whole adjusting to the country and with Cerro Negro taking a chunk out of it but oh NO, the fight is apparently not over yet.

After spending a morning at a beautiful beach on the island we took another series of buses that eventually took us to Media, out final destination. Along the way we met many more travelers and we all stayed at the Hostel Hacienda. This hostel was beautiful! They had great views of both volcanoes, close Monkey Island (yes, where there are monkeys) and with the buy now pay later frame of mind that makes you think your at an all inclusive resort when really.. your not. Goodness gracious the visa came in handy. Multiple hammocks, great swimming, kayaking to monkey island, enchiladas, tonas, Internet and Sun- now this is the vacation I pictured! My travel companions who do not know what RELAXATION is and who rest little had the fantastic idea to climb of the two HUGE volcanoes on the island. After the terror of Cerro Negro I made a deal between my head and my body that I would NEVER do that to myself again ever ever ever again, so i climbed a waterfall instead and the view was spectacular and I didn´t have to die to get it, thank goodness!

The trip to Granada and Ometepe was a fabulous break! We met fantastic people, ate delicious food and saw some beautiful sights but I am happy to be back home in Esteli. It´s crazy to think I only have three weeks left here and the one week to travel and then ladies and gents I will be home!

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

White Rabbits

Last night I received some much needed advice from one of my new house mates. Her words of wisdom? White Rabbits. In England the first of the month means one thing.. a chance for good luck, and boy was I in need of some! This morning I followed her orders and the FIRST thing I thought of and said to Marissa in the grogginess that follows the alarm was WHITE RABBITS.

This was the best advice I have EVER been given, because today.. well Karma was finally on my side. I´m not exactly what I have done to have the gods back in my corner, but I will take and ask questions later, much later. This morning at Los Pipitos began as a slightly grey morning. Since there has been a crazy break out of influenza a lot of kids have to stay at home, diminishing numbers, while others were sad, my boss was MIA and this little boy Hugo who breaks my heart everyday because he´s SO sweet suddenly HAD NO TEETH! I was looking around the circle thinking oh boy, today .. well it´s going to be a long one .. get ready..and try to save the tears for later...

After the morning circle is when things got REAL interesting. I had no idea where to really begin because I had no one there working with me. Since my boss was ill the others just kind of threw me to the sharks. I mean come on.. lets see how well the gringo will do? Seriously.. at first I was a blank faced mumbler but soon I was telling everyone about Canada and had them painting and coloring right away. I´ve never seen them so excited and actually happy to work. We made a collage of the sky with silver Bristol Bord and danced the afternoon away. I was using more Spanish that I have ever used before and people were actually understanding me! It was great! Later in the afternoon Edwin, a boy who has recently lost his mother gave me the most gigantic hug i have ever received.. after this the day couldn´t get any better. It was so special because usually Edwin is off on his own wanting to be ignored and never ever touched. I also helped administration with a few e-mails to English speaking visitors and was basically on cloud nine when the bus pulled away. This was the day I have been waiting for, this is why I came and this is why I have NO regrets. Through all the road blocks .. and man there were road blocks they don´t seem nearly as bad after dancing away the afternoon with some very special children.

Now here's where things get a little freaky deaky.. I jumped on the bus (yes the RIGHT bus) and right in front of me was a man wearing a baseball hat that said KAPPA.. Now it was probably completely unrelated but it got me thinking of my dear sisters of Kappa Kappa Gamma. I thought they have been SO supportive through all the tears and frustrations I have had thus far that they really deserve to hear about today. I was thinking I would just stop by home for a minute and then send a MASS email to all of them.. however I walked into my bedroom and there was a package awaiting my arrival. This mystery package was FULL of letters, pictures and other trinkets from those lovely ladies.. freaky eh?

I want to thank everyone who has been reading all the negative blogs, e-mails and phone calls because it is all turning around. This is the step I need and I am excited to go back tomorrow and give it another shot! .. and ladies.. in short you rock my socks!


Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Just another Sunday

This Sunday can only be described in one word- hilarious. Whenever Marissa and I try going anywhere with just the two of us, we often get ourselves into trouble. Even before this whole adventure really started we got lost. We should have realized the affect we had on each other when he couldn´t even find the travel clinic in CANADA, our English speaking country. What made us ever think we could survive traveling together in SPANISH, I´ll never know.

Weeks have gone by since we first planned to hike to the waterfall in Esteli. and since this weekend was lacking any serious travel plans we decided we´d give in another shot. Marissa (who has already gone) said ¨it´s a bit of a hike¨ A bit ? It was 5k UPHILL. more like a marathon if you ask me. Under the scorching heat of the Nicaraguan sun it is safe to say she kicked me sorry butt up to that waterfall. Unlike Marissa, I haven´t yet been blessed with the gift of long legs or the discipline to really ´use´ them. Needless to say this hobbit experienced a slight bit of trouble, though i did make it, it just wasn´t pretty- and that is where the real adventure begins.

Since the hike was longer than life itself we packed a lunch of PB and banana ( a classic) so we didn´t have to rush back in time for lunch and could enjoy some fun in the sun.

Obstacle Number One
With each day I am forced to stretch passed my comfort zone and experience the unwelcome as well as the uncomfortable . and of course a day at the waterfall was NO different. Once we got there keeping our lunch down was a bit of a problem with the sight of a very very hairy man sporting a pair of tighty whities- ONLY a pair of tighty whities AND they were wet- awesome! When your back hair intertwines with your shoulder hair and your shoulder hair intertwines with your armpit hair and your armpits into the rest of your body- you have a bit of an abundance that should be dealt with pronto if not for the common decency of others, than simply for yourself. Resembling the likes of a bear is never something one chooses to put on their dater s profile, I wonder why.

Obstacle Number Two
As always men in Nicaragua often cause problems. It ´s like a competition between who can be the most creative and degrading all at once. I thought this competition was usually kept to the city streets however once again I was wrong.Out in the middle of NOWHERE ( 5 km may i remind you!) I look up to admire the greatness of the beautiful waterfall before me and the peace is ruined by a group of men shouting insults and terrible pick up lines from the top. Seriously, they´re everywhere!

Obstacle Number Three
So after sweating a very unattractive amount I get to thinking This is actually ´ cold´ f or Nicaragua since we´re in winter.. COLD ? What planet are you on? However the rainy season did kick in while we were swimming , but really would you expect any less? When it rains, it pours and it´s no different here in Nicaragua. The rain started HARD, lasted LONG and rained A LOT. Since we thought walking around in our bikini bottoms wouldn´t be the smartest idea Marissa and I attempted putting our shorts on, not to stay dry but maybe to attract a little less attention. As ungracefully and you can possibly imagine we crouched under trees in an attempt to stay dry , leaned up against rocks for balance and shared the space with about ten locals. It was hilarious. Marissa puts one foot in her pants and falls flat on her butt, legs flying in the air. Free entertainment for the locals? I think so.

As we dragged our wet selves back to the trail we came across a recent tantrum thrown by mother nature. With all the rain and mud she created a little river for us to cross. The seasoned travelers that we have become, we changed into our flip flops and began trudging thorough the mess. Each step was more difficult than the last until I took one step and came u p without any shoes! Digging through the mud, up to my knees in water, soaked to the bone , and STILL looking for that darn shoe!

I forgot my ruby slippers back at our house so we had to keep walking. though I kept my fingers crossed a kin d soul would stop and pick us up. The trucks zoomed by no one giving us a second glace until the fanciest car we´d seen all day drove by and STOPPED! They put a blanket down in the back so we would leave mud behind but really- t hank you kind citizen!

By the end of the afternoon we looked like 2 drowned rats as the bus driver laughed at us while we got on . On the way home we weren´t disturbed by any men, I wonder why?


Saturday, June 27, 2009

Father´s Day

Last Friday we had a celebration for Father´s Day at Los Pipitos and needless to say, it was yet another tear jerker. I came to Esteli with ten packs of Kleenex (about the size of a small forest) and now I´m on to toilet paper, pretty sad, I know. There are approx fifty children and youth the frequent the Los Pipitos Centre, and out of those fifty, thirty have fathers, and out of that thirty four were able to come to the celebration. As I was sitting, waiting for Nica time to kick in and the presentation to begin I noticed that a lot of the children were looking sad, much sadder than their usual cheery faces especially on a day when the work load is less and their is a party about to begin. After realizing that their sad faces were very out of place I couldn´t stand my own ignorance anymore and had to ask the first person that was a) around and b) can understand my terrible Spanish. Sitting close by was Marcia, a mother and a worker at the Los Pipitos Centre began tell me the histories of some of the children, and they weren´t lying when they said ´ignorance is bliss.´ Each child had a story that was sadder and more heart breaking than the one before them. Many have been abandoned by their parents in one way or another and are living with older siblings and even some on their own. Many parents have passed away, moved away or simply turned their children away because they have a disability. One little girl nicknamed ´Precious Girl´ in Spanish has lost both parents in the last year. Usually an upbeat smiling girl was sitting alone sad and frustrated. As the reality of their lives began to sink in I just wanted to throw on a mask and a cape and take away all their nightmare, problems and obstacles that they face every day and ever night. They are all such beautiful people that deserve the same kind of love and attention that we all crave.

With each day spent at Los Pipitos my purpose seems to get a little clearer. I was never sent there to be productive, at least productive in the Canadian-work ethic sense. I am not there to produce goods or do physically demanding work. I am there because someone needs to love these kids. They need one on one praise and recognition. I am now appreciating my position more than I ever thought because I know how much they need the love I can offer. Not only me, but all the volunteers at Los Pipitos are brought there to offer a kind face and helping hand to those that need it. No one could have told me ´Jess, these kids need love, so love them-´ The only way I could really understand this reality is to experience it. To see them when they are sad, and when they are happy and when all they want is a hug. Though the Father´s Day celebration did leave me sad, it opened my eyes to something I would have never have realized, and for that I am truly grateful.


Wednesday, June 24, 2009

long over due

Time seems to be an interesting thing while I have been away. Though the weeks seem to ultimately fly by, sometimes the days inch slowly by like they´re racing snails. Last Thursday Jeanette (our American journalist friend) took us to the capital city, Managua, and more importantly to La Chureca, the biggest dump in Nicaragua. The dump was unlike anything I could have even imagined and even after walking through it I am still unable to comprehend the realities of their lives. Staring poverty in the face is truly and indescribable experience. As I was walking through meeting the children and adults who live, work and go to school in the dump my body was numb. I was seeing them, but couldn´t really ´see´ them.

La Chureca is a community of over 4000 families that call the dump home. Many do not ever step foot outside the gates of hell (the entrance) into a world completely different than their own. Spontaneous combustion's, decomposing animals, discarded needles and if they´re luck rotting food is what awaits them day after day. Their days are spent scavenging through the trucks that drop off the city´s waste, and many worker have yet to celebrate their 8th birthdays.Though the dump is equipped with a school, many children are forced to spend their days searching for food and recyclables to make an extra buck or two for their families.

When Jeanette made the plans to take us to La Chureca ( where she had volunteered for 5 months) she contacted two very brave women for help. Percilla and Dorthy who were thrilled to give us a presentation on La Chureca, by explaining both the brutal past and their hopeful future. The two power houses are in the midst of creating their own non profit organization focusing on the youth living in the dump. Their hope is to bring education and opportunity to those who have nothing. Percilla and Dorthy's 1st project revolves around Little Fabiola and her terribly difficult life. At nine years old her step father is guilty of sexually abusing her while her mother is in the house. Meeting Fabiola was one of the saddest things I have faced while in Nicaragua. Her big brown eyes had a past more difficult and complicated than what most adults have to deal with. What´s even more disturbing is that Fabiola isn´t a case of one in a million, this kind of abuse happens all over the dump and there is no one to stop it. Many of the drivers will have sex with the children and pay them in plastic bottles. This trip was disgusting, smelly, heart breaking, eye opening and a shock to say the least.

Though most of La Chureca is a story of heart break and hopelessness there are a few glimmers of hope. There is a safe haven that has been built for the children by a group of generous Italians. They are able to bathe, eat and get away from the difficulties that are their everyday lives. While Jeanette was working there for five months she took some of the students on field trips to explore other parts of Nicaragua, parts they would have otherwise never seen. They are being taught interview and writing skills, bracelet and necklace making among other things.Franklin, a teen cared for by Jeanette is a talented bracelet maker, so of course I couldn´t pass up the opportunity to buy own and support their cause. Though La Chureca is a very overwhelming experience, with the help of people like Jeanette, Percilla, Dorthy and other like minded individuals there is a very possible future for those living in the dump. A future that doesn´t consist living and working in the landfill hunting for their own food and plastics.

one step up

Finally, a plan! Things are slowly coming together at Los Pipitos and I couldn´t be more thrilled. Though I don´t think it will shape up to exactly what I had envisioned. this week is a step in the right direction. I am working in Pre Taller, a work shop consisting of about eight children a day. In Pre Taller much of their time revolves around doing many different arts and crafts by making their own paper, reusing and dying corn stalks, making pinatas, painting and of course, paper mache. Because these children cannot attend a conventional school Los Pipitos offers alternative education focusing on the enjoyment and possibilities that the arts allow. My responsibilities include having one on one discussions with the children as well as having home visits in order for me to be able to identify with the child based on their own life experiences. I also have bus duty, lunch duty and my favourite , bathroom duty. Though some responsibilities are a little less than glamorous, it at least gives me meaningful work, which is exactly what I have been looking for. I am also making an effort to learn sign language because I hate not being able to communicate with those children who are unable to speak.They all have so much to say, I just want to be able to understand and maybe offer a little in return. I am looking forward to seeing the progress in the weeks ahead. With a solid plan in place I feel like things are looking up.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Off the grid

Off the grid and into the mountains for the second time in six weeks. This weekend Marissa, Megan Siobhan and I all traveled in a true Nicaraguan bus, as always, two hours into the mountains for some serious R & R, returning to Paradise on Earth, also known as Miraflor. Miraflor is a community of people that work on or have their own organic farms. They produce coffee, bananas and veggies of all different kinds. While visiting a lucky explorer can take advantage of the abundance of orchids as well as other plant life, horseback riding, hiking, swimming and quickly making friends with dogs, cats, horses, cows and maybe a rooster or two.

I find it very difficult to write about Miraflor because words, and even pictures of that matter cannot begin to describe the beauty and magnificence that is present. I didn´t address Miraflor the first time we went because I knew my words were far from the real experience, but since this is our second time and will not be out last, I thought it was high time you are all let in on my secret to sanity, big shocker it´s the county? On our first visit we spent the entire day on the move horseback riding all throughout the farms, only stopping for pictures and lunch.We loved the clean air, open land and ´stillness´that we can´t get in the city so we promised each other and ourselves that we would back, for a girls only weekend- an escape from life in the city and a celebration for Siobhan´s 20th birthday. Lindos Ojos (Cute Eyes) is where we stayed hosted by the biggest hippies I´ve ever met. Gene and Katarina, both born in Germany- lived briefly in the states and now reside in Nicaragua are two amazing people that are so conscious about the environment and their own personal impact they use very little energy and do all they can to help the environment. Fluent in ENGLISH, Spanish and German, they were gracious hosts that went the extra mile for us to ensure a wonderful weekend.

Since we already had the pleasure of a guided tour all across Miraflor on horseback exploring the trees, coffee and flowers, we decided to be a little more low key this weekend. Needless to say we took the laid back approach to this weekend. Our physical exercise stretched only across Saturday afternoon while we hiked to the waterfall, swam and hiked back, which took about 4 hours in total, and yes - it was uphill both ways.

The funny thing was when we were making our way to the waterfall a young woman pointed out a great short cut for us. Shorter, yes.. Easier- NO. If we had continued the way we knew it would have been only ten minutes longer, yet with our new and improved trail it required a few Indians Jones moves where a barbed wire fence was concerned- fun? not really. A few bloody fingers and the inner girl scouts in all of us came out putting that fence and the short cut to shame.The waterfall was so close we could hear it, a little team work was necessary and it sure wasn´t easy and certainly not graceful but we got there all the same.

The waterfall- beautiful, clean, clear and refreshing! It was exactly what we came to Miraflor for, and boy did it fail to disappoint. The only way I can describe it, is paradise just got better. While we were exploring the waterfall, and the ways to get there Christmas must have came early, or maybe a visit from Gene, because once we made it back from the waterfall a beautiful white hammock was hanging on the porch of our cabin- Hello Heaven. I will tell you all right now, it is taking every bone in my body to stop myself from bringing one home. If Nicaragua does something well, it´s got to be hammocks. There is no problem a cold beer and a jump in the hammock can´t fix, Nothing! Drowning ourselves in good music, girl talk, a little rum, blankets, hammocks and the best food I´ve had in six weeks, it was the best weekend so far. I think I ate my weight in pasta, because Gene, he sure knows how to cook, and I didn´t want all that hard work to go to waste!

The mountain air , cooler temperature and lack of ´hola chica, I love you´s´ made the weekend everything I had hoped for and more. I kind of expected the sleeping conditions to be a little rough, maybe a little ´roach motel´ ish but the cabins were beautiful, the beds comfortable and get ready for this .. WARM showers.. as many as you wanted to take. Hot water doesn´t exist in Nicaragua but Heaven had it warm and that´s good enough for me.

While we quickly made ourselves comfortable we made four new friends, Rin tin tin, Molly, Tobey and Molitof, who all relaxed a little on our deck and patrolled the rest of the farm in shifts. All three pups were from Molly, although they didn´t look anything alike and a quick visit with Maury might be in order to discover the father. This weekend was so refreshing we have already made plans to visit one more time in July, to purchase coffee for home, eat until we fill out our pants and hang out in the hammock. If this is what Heavens life, sign me up.


I love Fridays. I think it´s a world wide trend that people look forward to the weekend, and sorry to disappoint, it´s no different here in Nicaragua. Although here Fridays mean more than TGIF on the ABC channel and a few beers celebrating the end to another week, because here I cannot understand the t.v and beers, well they can flow any day given that your thirsty and they are cold. In my neighborhood in Esteli, Friday means market day and the streets are cramped with locals buying and selling fresh flowers, fruits and veggies. As I watch from the sidelines waiting for the 7 45 bus to pick me up and rush me off to Los Pipitos I notice that an outdoor market has the ability to bring the young and the old together, making strangers into instant friends and reuniting old friends with each other. For a brief moment the grime and vulgarity seems to fade while the city comes alive- i love Fridays.

Monday, June 8, 2009

Ups & downs, turn it all around

While preparing for this adventure I was told many times to go in without expectations because I will save myself the disappointment when things don´t go as planned. True- It is impossible to predict how are lives will turn out and it is just as difficult to predict how a three month stint abroad will go, but having NO expectations- HELLO how is that possible? After putting so much effort and planning into my time in Nicaragua, having no expectations is unrealistic, CRAZY even .. though now that many expectations, even though I thought they were very much attainable and realistic are kind of laying scattered like a flat tire on the side of the road, disappointment is slowly creeping up on me, and he is neither cute or charismatic- he´s kind of a downer and I'm trying to kick him to the curb.

This last week I have spent trying to get comfortable at Los Pipitos, though as of now it´s been a fail. Though it is difficult with my broken Spanish and constant use of a dictionary I feel like it is acting like more of a hindrance than it should. It could be my lack of initative, or the organizations but it has been holding me back communicating with the organizers as well as the children. What is frustrating is that Los Pipitos is this brightly colored, well shaded FULL OF POSSIBILITIES facility for children to come and express themselves through different kinds of art- though for much of the time they are seated focusing on nothing, and so am I.

I am having a hard time adjusting to the slowness of the culture. In Canada I am used to being on the constant marathon of a fairly busy life shouting GO GO GO!! While here naps are not mandatory, though highly suggested, the city closes down from 12-2 and everyone walks like it´s Sunday- it´s culture right? I am not naive in the sense that I wanted to come here and change the world, do great things and solve world peace.. although if it were possible i would sign up. I just want to do something good, really get to know these children and know that my efforts are pro active rather than a bench warmer when so many good things could come from these children as well as the organization. This week my plans are to contact the people in charge and ask for some more responsibilities, I don´t want wear the paint off of a stool because I sit on it all day, I want to work, I came here to work. I hope that this will result is something proactive and give me a little piece of mind.

On an unrelated yet positive note, I am finally done with my Nicaraguan dentist. He was a nice and funny character although I thought it was a smidge odd how his mother and aunt would remind me of how attractive he was all time, perhaps they saw my visits, as some weird north American courtship.. i just wanted my tooth fixed. After 4 visits, mucho drugs, and minus one tooth I am finally feeling much better. The stitches are out and the pain is gone- thank goodness!

Life is as interesting, and challenging as ever.


Wednesday, June 3, 2009

1 month

Today is the official one month anniversary with me and my new buddy Nicaragua. It´s crazy to think I have already been away from home for a month, and have lasted this long.. it´s also crazy to think that there are 2 months to go! I have to admit i am finally getting comfortable here, and I can say that i am enjoying everything Nicaragua throws at me, both the good and the bad. One month in and I have grown a lot, and am very excited to see what the next two months have in store.. although fingers crossed they are a little lower key than the first month. Thanks again for everyone who is reading, I will continue to write about my life here in Nicaragua!


Tuesday, June 2, 2009

What happens on the volcano, stays there

3 30 am! as if the wake up calls could get any earlier , well they can and they did! At 3 30 we were crawling out of bed and getting ready for out next adventure. At 4 we were at the tour guides office eating a breakfast very familiar to Canada. Our group was climbing the Volcano called Cerro Negro and our guides were two volunteers from Canada, Jake and Justin. Our breakfast was the first thing to get excited about, There was CRUNCHY peanut butter, bread, fruit and BOILED EGGS! they only thing i missed here was my handy dandy egg slicer!

Once about every piece of food was gobbled down we set out carrying 2 L of water as well as snacks for lunch. I'm not exactly sure what i was thinking when i signed up to climb this volcano . somehow it didn´t cross my mind that this would be difficult, that volcanoes are HaRD! No i thought because it´s a tourist attraction EVERYONE could do it , haha FALSE! Climbing Cerro Negro was the hardest thing i have ever don e by FAR. Just getting to the base of the friggen thing tired me out because we were walking on volcanic ash and sand. One step forward and two steps back. Climbing CN was a challenge from beginning to end, but 100 percent worth it. It was boiling hot coupled with a heavy day pack added more of a challenge, how ever once we made it to the top it felt like such an accomplishment and the view was incredible. The whole way up my body was screaming WHY WHY WHY ARE YOU DOING THIS TO ME! It was a continuous mind vs body challenge, but with the support of our tour guides i managed to drag my sorry butt up to the top. Making it to the top had me thinking the tough part was over , getting down was less physically demanding however it was TERRIFYING. Jake and Justin encouraged us to RUN DOWN. okay, run down the side of a volcano, are you kidding me? I was hoping maybe if i clicked my heals a little bit and wished really hard i would end up a the bottom. As I started walking down lots of loose rock would give away doing nothing for my comfort level so i thought i would be safer going down on my butt. (this isn´t an option for a reason) I went down on my butt for about half of the way and with a sore toush i thought I should walk the rest of the way. Well volcano rocks proved to be tougher than my pants and not only did I end up with a gigantic hole, I also left half by butt on Cerro Negro! - hello polysporn!

All ki dd ing aside this weekend was amazing . we got to experience a different region of nicaragua pampering ourselves a little and chall enging ourselves a lot. When we finally got back to Esteli sunday night i was plus 3 blisters, minus 1 pair of pants, red as a tomato and smelling like volcanic rock. - a beautiful terrifying exhausting weekend ? check!


You know it´s hot when your knee caps are sweating!

The time spent abroad so far has been anything but an easy road. There have been MANY unexpected bumps that have caught my off guard, but in the end of made me a stronger person. As Hans (a fellow traveler from Belgium) likes to remind me.. everything that happens is `good for me` well whether it´s good for me or not , it has tested me, exhausted me and left me with a bitter taste from time to time for the culture here in Nicaragua.

However, as May faded away an unexpected opportunity presented itself to me, leaving me in much better spirits! Marissa (my roommate) and Krista ( from Virginia) planned an ambitious 2 day trip to Leon, that i couldn't miss. Obviously I agreed to go before assessing the ungodly hour we were to begin our trip. (4 30 ) I wasn´t quite sure this hour actually existed, well let me tell you.. it does and it´s far from pleasant.

On previous entries i may have mentioned this state of the buses in Central America.. a vision of jammed pack sardines forgotten out of the sun often comes to mind, but this time the bus gods were finally on our side!At 5 30 in the bus terminal the three of us set out to find the correct bus headed for Leon. The bus staring back at me was no cramped school bus piled high with chickens and travelers- on no, it was coach. WITH AC. and plenty of room. At first i thought it was too many cervezas from the night before and perhaps lack of sleep but pinch me, it was real. Feeling rather spoiled our trip to Leon starting off with a bang.

Saturday- hello paradise. The Cathedrals in Leon are beautiful . They house the biggest cathedrals in central America and they live up to their reputations. Walking through them it was hard not to be overwhelmed by the years of worship and the stories kept deep within the walls. As we walked through there were many families within the churches, perhaps because it was mothers day or perhaps a regular occurrence. It was a pleasant surprise to see all these families coming together in such a beautiful atmosphere.

Once the sightseeing was checked off our list of to-do s, the heat was pretty much unbearable so we headed for the beach . Though we indulged ourselves for an afternoon of drinks by the beach, swimming and sunning I couldn't help feeling slightly hypocritical - we obviously stumbled on a small tourist hot spot as the beach bar and unlimited waves made it look and feel like an all inclusive resort when just around the corner of the mud road were unstable huts, mound s of garbage and little children. The afternoon hidden away from reality may have been indulgent , however after 4 weeks here it was incredibly necessary.Th e sand was hot, the waves refreshing and the juices incredibly tasty. The day was rejuvenating and picked up my spirits 100 percent!


Saturday, May 23, 2009

Perfect Timing

So I´ve got to thinking while I´ve been away that in some past life of mine I was a terrible terrible creature. If being robbed, bugged and moved within the first two weeks wasn´t enough, I now have another problem to add to my ever growing list... It was as if with all the fun and excitement that has been happening in the last few weeks my wisdom teeth were beginning to feel left out of the adventure.. so instead of being patient little beauties, one in particular chosen to rear it´s ugly head.- thanks.

Just as soon as my body started to be a smidge forgiving regarding the food, water and weather something else had to jump up causing mucho discomfort. So not only am I 70 Cordoba short and down one entire Nicaraguan family I now have a super inflamed face in a foreign country. The only upside to this has got to be that maybe i will attract less cat calls.. fingers crossed. After popping Advil like it was candy for about a week I finally gave in and went to a dentist, a Spanish speaking dentist, a Spanish speaking dentist in a foreign country. (just in case you forgot.)

Cesar, my Spanish tooth man had his dentists office blaring with some Latin American tunes. A cluttered room full of rosaries, crosses and other interesting figures made me a feel oddly safe. Directly after Cesar took a gander at my mouth he began explaining the situation - IN SPANISH. The only thing that was not lost in translation was-- INFECTION ERUPTION EXTRACTION. one word to describe this- awesome.

After another broken translation I learned my wisdom tooth has great timing and ha s broken through the surface causing a huge infection alone the way, and if it doesn´t come out soon with bad news bears. So i am now on a steady supply of Nicaraguan drugs for the next 7 days, and then the adventure continues to an extraction. Seriously, what next'?

All for now,

Thursday, May 21, 2009


I just wanted to send a quick thank you to everyone who is reading my blog! It is so nice to know that your experiencing this with me, the good the bad and the ugly. Your comments make a world of difference as i often go back and read them on a rough day.. and there have been many.
I just want everyone to know i appreciate you!

I will be blogging soon!

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Flying by the seat of our pants

Transportation in Nicaragua only means one thing, whether your destination is only 20 minutes down the road or a 2 hour trip the only way to get there is riding in the back of a pick up truck. Now this may not be the safest alternative, however, it´s the quickest and cheapest and the only method that allows you to keep your personal bubble in tact, that is if you still have one at this point. The other very unattractive alternative is taking the bus. Unlike the buses at home, these ones are not full until there´s at least one person sitting on the bus drivers lap and a few hanging out the window. Sorry mom, I prefer option one.

Yesterday our group of Intercordians set of at an ungodly hour of 4 30 to explore the region of Masaya. 2 hours in the pick up plus 45 minutes in a bus and we finally made it, in one piece. We wanted to explore Masaya and see all that it has to offer. Famous for it´s markets we though we would have an extremely busy day.. once again we were wrong-o, this seems to be staring to become a pattern. Armed with our broken Spanish abilities, no guide book and what felt like a heat wave our first independent trip failed our expectations. However next time we will fly a little less by the seat of our pants and a little more by a flexible plan accompanied by a guide book or two. Fingers crossed our next adventure is a little more productive. Even though it was a let down sort of day golden stars should be awarded for actually making it to the market and back with only getting a smidge lost a long the way.

I feel like our trip to Masaya is a great representation of our lives here in Nicaragua. Nothing, and I mean nothing is as easy as it seems. And if it was easy than we either forgot something or we did it wrong! Frustration is a common feeling here with miscommunication being a common occurrence. Today marks the beginning of our third week here and just maybe with the end of Spanish classes and the start of work some kind of ´routine with present a sort of normal in the air. All for now,


Wash em and dry em

There isn´t a day that goes by that I don´t learn something, get frustrated and confuses, a little less frustrated, unconfused and grow a little more. It´s been ten days here in Esteli.. which only means one simple thing. Ten pairs of underwear have come and gone and my supply is depleting faster than I can type this blog.

Today I was introduced to that art of washing clothes.. by hand. After dipping, soaping, scrubbing, rinsing, ringing and repeating about 20 times not only did I walk away sweaty with a sore back, I also walked away with clean clothes and appreciated for the way of life here. You can´t just throw a shirt in the washer and 40 minutes have it come out just like new. No- like most things here it take mucho time and even more patience to accomplish anything. The sun failed to disappoint today, like most days in Central America and I was left with a pile of clean clothes AND underwear washed by my own two little hands and dried by the sun' oh the feelings of gratitude. Rather than resorting to the old wear em inside out, they are clean and I am happy.


Tuesday, May 12, 2009


So like most travelers I too have been lucky enough to have terrible stomach pains that can only mean on thing... bad news bears! Who knows exactly what´s hanging out in my stomach and what it´s doing! Fingers crossed that this ´presence´didn´t buy a one way ticket and will be moving along shortly!

After Spanish lessons today ´The presence¨ and I came home to some lunch as usual, however today there was an unexpected surprise waiting for me and presence. Right next to the cucumber salad and rice was Nemo looking right up at me! I mean there were fins, a tale and a FACE! I thought looking down at this poor little fellow.. ¨Nemo, what in the world are we gonna do?¨ After picking my way through the rice and salad I payed my respect to poor Nemo and followed the family trend.. digging in and trying to enjoy lunch regardless of Nemo and his poor poor fate. Sadly ¨Fish are friends, not food¨ doesn´t work in the movie or in Nicaragua.
Happy Dinner!


20 to 70 in the blink of an eye

After the 12 hour day I spent at Miraflor enjoying everything about Nicaragua´s country side I was about ready to jump into my hard mattressed and lumpy pillowed bed that looked like heaven and call it a night- however my host family had alternative plans. A knock at the door and ´Yessica´ with a Spanish accent was enough to drag my sorry butt out of bed and into the family. A night of bonding was clearly on the agenda regardless of the languages barrier. Armed with my pocket sized Spanish phrase book I was about to jump into true Nicaraguan life, not any of that tourist mumbo jumbo I have been experience thus far. (well maybe minus my dictionary) The night began with Tona, Nicaraguan cervesa and ended in shambles. My host brother Ivan and I went to a Spanish karaoke and dance bar. I didn´t attempt the karaoke partly because I wanted to spare my new Spanish friends their hearing and since I can´t even speak the language .. singing it would just lead to trouble. I tried out the Spanish dancing which was a lot of fun, however as the night came to end so did the fun. As Ivan and i left the karaoke bar we walked back to our house thinking that we would save 20 Cordoba ( which in Canada is about equal to 2 very cold wonderful Pepsi's.) Me living day to day in those wooden shoes god blessed me to be in made a bad decision, and ended up losing 70 Cordoba and my sense of security. Not 2 blocks away from home Ivan and I got jumped by 5 Nicaraguan men. It was dark and Ivan and I were to trying to speak in broken Spanish to each other not noticing them around the corner. They took our money and ended up bruising Ivan with large rocks. The money is nothing to lose sleep over however the fear, shock, loss of control and personal invasion brought me to an unimaginable low.

Before the night I was beginning to feel comfortable in Esteli and now I feel as if I have taken five steps backwards and I wear paranoia like it´s a t-shirt that isn´t going out of style. It´s always one of those things that you think will NOT, CAN NOT, possibly happen to me EVER EVER EVER. Well 1 week in, and 1 huge reality check under my belt I now know that walking late at night is not okay, no matter who you´re with., and a taxi is the best option regardless of the cost. Beyond Borders is not simply an extra long worry free stay in a warm climate. It´s real life, with real people, this means the good the bad and the ugly.
All for now,


Monday, May 11, 2009

a hand, a heart beat and an unusual feeling

A hand a heart beat and a very unusual feeling were all jumbled in the adventures of today. During Spanish lessons at Los Pipitos today I met a young man by the name of Alfonzo and though I don´t know a lot about him, I do know he likes to touch people and he likes heart beats and apparently he liked my heart beat.

Alfonzo does not talk a lot. In fact I had no idea of his presence in the room until I felt a hand out of no where land on my chest. INVASION of personal space is what first popped into my head. A little HELLO your in my personal bubble, please step away. I had no idea who this kid was and WHY on earth he was touching me. After a broken translation I discovered Alfonzo was soothed by the feeling of a heart beat- WEIRD. I still don´t really understand it, however it is good to have a warning that he will be back rather than a shocking surprise.

I never realized how different a preconception can very from person to person. Personally I like my individual space and I especially like that people know their boundaries at least at home. In Nicaragua things are different. I don´t believe the term ´personal bubble´ has ever been coined and if it has, it sure is not very strict. I don´t know what it is, but it´s different here and no one seems to mind. People seem to prefer a closeness between them which is something to get used to. It isn´t bad mind you, just different Maybe it´s time I hung up my own individual bubble suit for a while and embraced the lifestyle before me.


Friday, May 8, 2009


BUGS!! When looking back and preparing for this trip I thought of many things. Of the lack of running water, of getting sick, of not enough food.. etc.. you name it, I THOUGHT i thought about it. But apparently I was WRONG-O. My second night in Esteli proved to be more challenging than the first. It had rained all day, no meeting with the other Intercordians and to my dismay bugs. Now i´m not talking about a few buys.. that even I can handle. No No No NO! I have never seen so many bugs in my entire life.. combined! .. and lucky for me they all decided to have a little meet and greet in my room.. on my door. There were SO many they covered then entire face of the door.Needless to say.. I had my very first Beyond borders FREAK OUT, and it was huge complete with tears and all.

Later, I found out that with the first rain came loads of bugs. Apparently they don´t bite but it doesn´t make them any less creeeeepy... at least through my anti bug eyes. My host family all shared a nice laugh about it and kept saying NO PROBLEMO.. however it was a grade problemo at least for me! They moved me into a new room further into the house, and to my delight BUG FREE. I was very thankful that they realized it was important for me, even though it was normal for them.

Today has been a very good day although I still look ahead and think three months away.. can I do it? Do i even want to do it? and mostly what the heck am i thinking!?

This morning bright and early we went to Los Pipitos for our language training and after we toured the place. After only four short hours I can not communicate in Spanish with my family! Mind you it´s pretty broken, but it´s a start. I will never take this form of communication for granted ever again! Los Pipitos is a beautiful place! Its amazing in the same kind of way I found the Working Centre was like Oz! Each building is splashed with bright colors and photos of the children. Immediately I had a bunch of new friends once we met some of the kids and it didn´t matter if we couldn't speak to them because smiles and hugs are the same in every language and that's all they wanted.I think I am going to really like working here, how can anyone not with all of this positive energy floating through the rooms?

The obstacles this week have all taught me something. As Joanne says FRUSTRATION leads to LEARNING and once again she´s right.. I just hope that not every week has so many obstacles in store!