Sunday, April 15, 2012

Finally one of the same

Finally one of the same

For for weeks, actually my entire time here, I have been debating on coming to a Spanish school out in a small community. The school is Hios del Maiz and the community name is Lagartillo. I am so please that i decided to come here!

It is already Wednesday night and I can't believe I only have two days of class left for this week. Going back to last Sunday ...

My trip started with two different bus trips from Leon to Lagartillo. My second bus, an old school bus, started fairly empty but ended up being packed. Literally we could not fit any more people. It wasn't till i got off the bus an hour later when i realized there were people riding on top of the bus as well. Crazy. Also crazy, was when i helped pass a baby from the front of the bus to the back. I am not sure how the baby and his mother got so separated but I do know I was not the only one to think it was odd. Other people were making comments as well. Haha fun Nica stories.

Once I got off the bus, I started walking down the road with people from the village. I was a little nervous because the road literally looks like it's leading you to the middle of no where. After 20 minutes of walking I was greeted by someone from the school who showed me to my host family's house.

As for the past three days, I have had Spanish class for four hours every day, broken up into two, two hour sessions. During the time I am not in class, I have been wondering around and studying. I have not visited the "really cool" places yet but I should be able to get to both tomorrow.

Totally different note...

Lagartillo is the kind of place one can dream about. It is located in the mountains, looking rather like Colorado but with different trees, with warmer days and cool nights. It is also amazing because I don't feel like I stick out. When i wrote before about just wanting to fit in and go about my day; this is the place I was hoping for.

Because the Spanish school has been here for so long many of the children graduating high school this year have grown up seeing Gringos all the time. Some times as many as 15 non Nicas in a week. This is totally normal here. It blows my mind that here in Nicaragua, this this small community of a hundred people, not seeing a Gringo every day would be an oddity. Plus, the people here are so nice and welcoming. It's hard not to love it.

Only being here three days, I would recommend the Spanish school, Hios del Maiz, and the comunidad de Lagartillo to anyone interested in a different sort of Spanish intensive program.

Saturday, April 7, 2012

Semana Santa pt 2

Without boring the rest of the world, I am going to quickly go through the events of the past couple of days.

Last Saturday we ended up in this small beach town because they were having a Hippica. It was great. The cowboys rode their horses down the street and made them dance. Everyone else, okay and maybe the cowboys, drank. We started after a morning at the beach and continued on til about midnight. It was a raging party for a small beach town. The best part was the title of our tab at the hostel, "La cuenta de los gringos." Awesome? I think yes.

The next morning we hitched our way back to Playa Popoyo for another day at the beach. The following day we hitched a ride almost to the beach town of Gigante. We did, however, have to walk the last 5 km. That was pretty hard with all of our stuff in the sun. BUT, we made it and spent the rest of the day surfing it up!

That night we ate dinner on top of this hill over looking the ocean. Def one of the best views of my life. The food and the people were also amazing! The best part was when the power went off a few minutes into eating our dinner. They were so concerned with getting us light so we could eat but we kept on eating. It did not phase us one bit. We were able to finish our dinners before they found another power source. I will saw that eating by the star light was one of the coolest experiences.

The following morning we had to set out for our return trip to Granada. Again, we were able to hitch a ride so we didn't have to walk the 5 km again. This trip was actually amazing because we were in the back of a work truck (the only way to hitch, don't worry I would never hitch on my own or get into a car-that would be just stupid, haha). They actually drove us all the way to the town we needed to catch our Granada bus from. It must have saved us over an hour of travel time. Thank you random people.

After arriving in Granada, I was able to wash my clothes at a friends house. This was the first time in over a month that I was able to really wash my clothes-not in sink. (FYI, there are plenty of places to wash clothes but I don't want to pay). The next day I made my way back to Leon. Back to the heat. My first night here there was the most amazing rain storm. It lasted almost all night. That might have been a hint of what we have to look forward to in May. Who knows?

This next week I am head out to the campo (farm) for Spanish school. I will be staying with a host family and I should have plenty of interesting stories when I get back next weekend.


Semana Santa pt.1

During Semana Santa the country of Nicaragua shuts down. I originally thought it was because of religious reasons but I know understand it is because every Nica heads to the beach to be with family and friends, and to of course party.

The first part of Semana Santa I spent with some friends I had met in Matagalpa a few weeks prior. They invited me to go to none other than, the beach! I was game because I love open water because I never get to spend time at a beach. We set out of a local beach called Playa Popoyo on the Pacific side of Niacaragua. That was definetly a trek to get to but it was well worth it.

First, we had to take bus from Granada to Rivas, which takes about 2 hours. That is if, there are not road blocks  that make you wait for half an hour. Of course this happened. That just ment more time together on an old school bus, all sweating. YAY! It really wasn't that bad, or maybe I just blocked it out, haha. In Rivas, we had a bit of a wait for the next bus so we got something to eat at a local place. Then we piled on to the next bus that would take us to a road that we needed to walk down in order to get to our hostel. (Even though this drive was only 20 km it still took over 2 hours. This is why it is better to ask, how long?, rather than, how far?) When we got dropped off, some of the people on the bus laughed at us because they knew it was high tide and we had few couple of challenges ahead of us.

We walked about 1km down the road before we can to out first "bridge crossing," this was just a couple of sticks across the river. We all made it over fine, but we went one by one because we could see the logs give a little under our weight. This was also the reason we made the heaviest person go first. Thanks Alex. From here we had another river crossing but there was no bridge of any kind. It took us some time because we couldn't see the bottom of the river but we finally noticed the rocks have been strategically placed in order to cross. Two down, one to go. We got our final water crossing and it looked a bit different because there were waves coming through. We sent Alex across first, and it looked at though the water was only waist deep. Not bad. So then the girls decided to go. (At this point I was feeling a bit too cocky I guess), and I stepped into the river a bit down stream than the other two girls. This of course was my first mistake. We had also heard a local guy say to us in Spanish that a wave was coming. We took that as "go" and we should have taken it differently. Lost in translation. I started to get pushed down streem further and further. Not a good thing. I thought I could just wait it out but the wave was getting stronger and stronger. I didn't care about my pack, all the cared about was my camera in my purse. And with that I started to go down. I tried my best and some Nica guys were able to help me up a bit. Finally, we all made it across. Still laughing as we walked to the front door of our hostel, I realized my leg was bleeding.

We got checked in and headed to the beach for some R&R after our travels and my failed river crossing ability. For dinner that night we decided on a spot close to our hostel. It took a while to get our food but we were sustained by beer and lots of laughs, oh and the geckos. There were two geckos, doing who knows what, above our table, when they suddenly fell and just missed one of the beers on the table. Two of the girls started screaming and everyone in the place stared at us. After explaining what had just happened, they looked at us like we were crazy. Probably rightfully so.

Tuesday, March 27, 2012


After a week in San Isidro with amazing EOS International staff, it was time for me to move on. I ended up going to Leon with a Peace Corps volunteer that I met during my stay in San Isidro. She was going to Leon to celebrate her birthday with some other PCV and had invited me to come along.

It was one of my better travel decisions for sure. Everyone that I met from PC was amazing. All super nice and welcoming to a non-volunteer. It was in the 24 hours I spent with them, that I decided I could never do PC. They were all doing such amazing things with their time and energy. I was definitely impressed but also reassured that PC is not for everyone, especially me.

We spent last Saturday afternoon on the beach west of Leon. It was great to be near the water. Being land locked my whole life, I always get super excited when I get to hang out near large bodies of water. This beach experience was different than any other I have had in the past, why? Because it was hot. It is hot. Leon is hot. The usual breezy at the beach felt like a hot wind from hell. The water was at least 80°. So when you went in, it was only marginally cooler than the air outside.  With all of my statements of, "it's so hot," it was sill an enjoyable experience. It was also good to get my tan on. I need all the help I can get.

After our afternoon at the beach we made the seemingly longer journey back to our hostel. It was there that I met another 7 or so PCVs. We quickly got ready with the prospect of food in our thoughts. A few of the volunteers had been to Leon before and they lead us to a cheap and delicious shawarma place. Thank Nicaragua for dinners that cost 2 dollars.

Once we were all feed and back in good spirits we headed to the nearest bar. My apologies to everyone we encounter that night. Our American reputation held true.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

San Isidro, Nicaragua

After spending the weekend in Matagalpa with some awesome new friends, I left Monday day morning for San Isidro (aka the location of the EOS International office).

The buses are always an amazing experience. Full of interesting looks, food, people, and of course, me, a gringa. I can all most hear people's thoughts when they see me, 'what the...?' I totally get it but my presence does seem to throw people for a loop. But, I guess I like knowing that I keep people on their toes. I also know, that now this backfire because I said something. Murphy's law.

Anyway, San Isidro is a pretty small town on the road from Matagalpa to Esteli. There is not much here in terms of things to do but I like that it is somewhat quieter than the other cities I have visited. I learned last night that there is not even an ATM here...good to know. Even though it is a small town there still seems to be some money coming through. The houses in the main part of town are very cute and brightly colored. The people are nice and they like to watch as I walk past. If they seem real surprised, like these two grandma's yesterday, I like to say, 'hola.' Their faces are priceless. They have no idea how much Spanish I know, which isn't much, but they kind of wave back in confusion.Ahh, good times.

In the two days that I have been in San Isidro, I have been trying to study and practice my Spanish skills. I really appreciate the EOS Nica team for trying to talk to me when they have a few minutes and asking me about my day. They are all so amazing and they work so hard. I am not sure if yesterday an atypical day but some of the team was here at the office for more than 12 hours. They are so dedicated and truely care so much about their local community and their country. I also like to walk around the town which is a concept they don't really understand.

For example, yesterday I was walking through the central park here and two policemen stopped me. Turns out they were just really curious and wanted to know why I was in such a small town and what I was doing. For me the answers to these types of questions are apart of my script and I almost sound like I can speak Spanish, haha.

I feel bad  because there is not much more to say. I know my time here in San Isidro is not the most exciting part for others to read but I want to encourage anyone who is interested to c heck out the EOS website for more information on what we do. It is really exciting when you are here and see the technologies people are going to be getting. For example, yesterday, on of our techs was packing up the EOS truck for three installations. I village that takes almost almost three days to get to, is getting a water chlorinator, a biodigester, and solar panels. How cool is all of that? They are going to have clean drinking water and electricity for the first time. That is amazing!!! That is why it is so cool to be here and see what they do because in the US, we just send money and we don't really get to see the final product. We see pictures, but we don't really know how that new technology is going to change that person's life. But here, I walk around and I can see some of our technologies and I see them using them. That makes my heart soft and fuzzy, haha.

And from that soft moment, I will say good morning morning to a new day of the unknown and potential to change lives.

My New Fav!!!

Granted I have yet to visit other places in northern Nicaragua but I think Matagalpa is my favorite.

I am loving the weather and the people, oh and the food! The chicken from the street vendors is the best chicken I have ever had. The great thing about street vendors is that the food tastes like it's from a down home BBQ. Def some of the better food I have had in a foreign country. It's all about the spices. That being said, I try to eat street food at least once a day. Plus it is also the cheapest. Bonus!!!

This past week I took 15 hours of Spanishes classes. Most days it was for 4 hours a day. It was intense but totally worth it. It was nice to have a memory jog on the grammer and some vocab. Ttyhe only problem is that I stayed at a ostel and spoke English with other Americans every day. Which is why I am excited for next week when I will be staying at the EOS office in San Isidro.

Wednesday, March 14, 2012


I made it to Matagalpa and got signed up for Spanish class. I think my profs from college would be impressed. Not just because of what I remember but by the fact that I was never very good at Spanish in the first place.

Being here is very much a wow, holy Spanish experience. Especially in the northern part of the country where thee are fewer tourist and fewer people who speak Spanish.

Other than Spanish and studying Spanish, I have met some very inspiring people. An American woman who is between med school and her residency. She is WOOFFing on a new farmer near a village called San Antonio. She lives in a shed with another American. They have a dirt floor and they cook most of their meals over a fire. She is roughing it for sure. This is her huge adventure, at least for the next three years while she is doing her residency. Then, we met another man in Spanish school and he is a civil engineer from the UK. He had some time off from so he partnered with an NGO and he is working on a foot bridge on the south end of Matagalpa. Right now the workers from the not so great areas was to walk across stepping stones when the river is dry and when it is wet they have to walk 2k out of their way so they can make it to work at the coffee plantations. The foot bridge he is working on will save them time and hopefully they can make it work more during the wet season. He is here for a month on his own dime and had never studied Spanish before he got here. I just think that is so generous.
It's people like those mentioned above who inspire me. They are willing to give up their own time and money to do something for someone else. Of course they have an amazing experience themselves but I still think it is pretty incredible.

 On a totally different note. Yesterday I was able to visit the EOS International office. It was amazing to meet Alvaro and his wife. They are SO nice. Because my Spanish is not good and his Spanish is hard to understand we had a hard time talking but we were able to accomplish a few things. Hopefully after this week at Spanish class I will be able to understand and communicate a bit more. It was just so cool to see all of our technologies in one room. It felt like I was finally living my dream. Next week I think there will be an installation of a water chlorinator on the campo (farm). I talked to him about observing the install. All is said what get ready for an adventure and not to worry. And with that I was sold. I am hoping that next week I will go to San Isidro for the week. There are definitely no tourists there so it will be very different. I will have to really use what Spanish I have. It will be just like Georgia again. I guess that is the only way to really learn.

No matter the challenges I think I am ready for a few days of adventure.