At a park in Masaya with Ilana and Brandon (my friend from an NGO called Bridges to Prosperity)
Our photographers (taken by Ilana)
First of all, many apologies for not posting in October or November (though infrequent posts are clearly my M.O. at this point). The past several months have been absolutely stupendous. I’m on the road a lot as usual, doing many site visits, planning for the Youth Leadership Camp in February, and visiting new and exciting destinations in this beautiful country. Side-note: I recently discovered hashtags and the concept confuses me.
On a site visit in Las Palomas, Matagalpa
Immediately following my parents’ visit back in early September I got to attend TEDX in Managua and hear from all kinds of fascinating, Nicaraguan speakers. Also, my friend Nishant spoke briefly about ChatSalud, an SMS-based sexual and reproductive health hotline project started by a group of PCVs. Great Initiative! http://www.nicaraguadispatch.com/news/2013/03/chatsalud-coming-soon-to-a-cellphone-near-you/7091
PCV Nishant Kishore speaking at TEDX
When time allows one of my favorite pastimes is relaxing and chatting with my landlady, Marlene Blandón. Marlene always goes out of her way to do nice things for me. One afternoon we were sitting on her balcony and she called out to the Eskimo ice cream cart as it passed by. She lowered a wicker basket to the vendor with money and pulled up chocolate ice cream bars for us. It reminded me of the opening scene in Dr. Seuss’s The Lorax where the boy puts some coins in a hamper to hear the story of the Truffula Trees.
3) Made recycled paper with kids at Asociación la Amistad
4) Site visits with Alice, Joe and Marisol
We recently got five new environment volunteers who are all a lot of fun. Three of them are located relatively close to me in a municipality called San Ramón so I’ve been able to see them on a fairly regular basis.
Joe in front of his school in site
5 & 6) Yoga classes at a nearby bar & finished grad school applications
My yoga/work space (photo from web)
Much of the past few months was spent at a bar/café a few blocks from my house called Artesanos. My friend Angie–a former Peace Corps volunteer and English teacher in Matagalpa–has organized an hour-long yoga class there on Wednesdays and Thursdays that starts at 6 a.m. We typically spend the first half hour or so doing some semblance of yoga before meditating a bit and then talking about our goals and intentions for the day. It’s been a really cool way to make more friends in town and get my day off on the right foot. After yoga I go home, take a cold bucket bath (my house has running water about 20% of the time) and head back to Artesanos to work on grad school applications, camp planning, and other Peace Corps work. I’m applying to public health master’s programs at UCLA, Arizona, Michigan and North Carolina.
7) Somoto Canyon
(picture from web)
After two years of putting it off, I finally traveled to Somoto Canyon with my friend Paola. We hiked/floated/jumped down the canyon for about five hours of bliss. One of the coolest things about this third year is getting to visit so many rivers.
(picture from web)
8) Thanksgiving with Ambassador
For the second year in a row I, along with many other PCVs, was lucky enough to have Thanksgiving with the U.S. Ambassador Phyllis Powers. We ate a delicious meal, and then Ilana and I got to spend the night in her home.
9) Global Dialogues
I’m helping RPCV Robyn Singleton with a project she’s doing with an organization called Global Dialogues (GD). This year GD has chosen to start working in Nicaragua and is holding a competition where youth under the age of 25 (no minimum age) submit short stories (between 1-10 pages), poems, or songs about topics that are normally taboo or difficult to discuss (e.g., sex, drugs, violence, discrimination, etc.) The best stories will be turned into short films by some of the world’s greatest directors and young cinema talents. I’m promoting this project with my friend Paola and a woman named Paz, who is the president of a feminist organization in Matagalpa called “Grupo Venancia.” We are hoping to get 400 submissions from youth all over the country by the end of March.
Paola, Paz and me at Grupo Venancia.
10) I bought a new hammock for my back patio–love sitting out there and watching the sunset.
11) Alternative Winter Break with UO
Once again I got to accompany the University of Oregon on one of their Alternative Break trips. This time we were based out of a beautiful fishing town called Gigante. The students–with the support of local leaders–were conducting surveys about access to clean water and consequential health outcomes with families who had requested water filters from the organization “Comunidad Connect” http://www.comunidadconnect.org/. As before, it was great spending time with UO students, especially because they allowed me to indulge in constant reflection about my Nicaragua experience in the past three years.
12) Holidays in Eugene
I’ll be at home until January 1st and then I start my last four months of Peace Corps service. In the coming months I’ll be hearing back from graduate schools, visiting the University of Arizona, having my youth leadership camp, visiting more volunteers, promoting Global Dialogues, translating for a few different medical teams, and (hopefully) continuing to update my blog more than once. Let me know if you’re in Eugene!
The above video is the view out my window in Matagalpa celebrating the Purísima (the conception of Mary).