Saturday, June 21, 2008

Riding the Express

I would love to develop this more, but there isnt a lot time right now, but here goes.

Yesterday, I went to Managua for a meeting. I got on the regular $1.50 bus in the morning and settled in next to 2 women. The busses here are old school busses from the states, so keep that in mind. Every seat was packed and people were crammed into the isle. You had to push to get out. The man behind me was carrying his machete to cut some firewood or harvest some plantains. The woman in from of me had 2 live chickens in a bag that she was probably going to sell at the market. People carried their belongings in plastic bags and mostly wore tearing sandles. It was a long, stuffy 2 hour ride. It started to rain, so all of the windows were closed. We got to Managua and crammed 7 of us into a taxi for a 45 minute ride accross the city that involved waiting for the horse cart to pass and a child throwing up out the window.

After the meeting, we hurried to a nice taxi that had all of the knobs inside and were charged a fair rate, and it was just 2 of us. We got there in time to get the express bus back costs $3. Live chickens, fruit baskets, and machetes were replaced by iPods and mp3 playing cell phones. The bus was quiet and nobody tried to sell me fruit so that they could eat dinner that night.

For those who dont know, that is Nicaragua. $1.50 is all the difference in the world. $1.50 defines those who can barely afford to get to where they HAVE to go and those who commute 2 hours so they dont have to see poverty. $1.50.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Chagüitillo, Nicaragua

I'm here...finally! I'm in a little internet cafe surrounded by the northern Nicaraguan mountains. There's an Eskimo ice cream store accross the street and my 89 year old grandma's house is just down the road. The street (yes...there is only one actual road here) is dirt and rocks. And everyone knows eachother. It's awesome. Pretty much everyone here is family. Everyone's family lives with everyone else. The best way to describe Chagüitillo is as a tiny revolutionary commune. All the teenagers walk around in Che Guevarra shirts and hats with a single star on them. And there's fresh fruit juice every day. There's also fresh coffee. When I say fresh, I mean that my grandma roasts the beans in her yard. It's that good. I'll run through what I've been doing REAL fast and what's been going on and what the near future holds.

I was in Managua for only 2 days and we visited all of the sites that everyone goes to see (and the ones I visited on made me miss you guys a lot). We had few conferences and charlas (short talks) on history and economy of Nicaragua. Then we went to the coast.
We were in Pochomil for 4 days (I think). It is soooo hot on the coast. We were sweating all day and all night. We had some relax time and some conferences and stuff. Oh! We went to Masaya (an older town about an hour outside of Managua) before we went to Pochomil and did an activity on what it might be like to live on $2 a day. We were given $2 and sent to the market with a ficticious family situation. We had to get food, medicine, and school supplies with $2. Needless to say, someone's needs were missed. It was powerful, and I'd like to write about it, but that's for later.
After Pochomil we were eager to get to our homestays, but the 3 of us in the northern region of Nicaragua had to wait. I stayed the night at our program director's house and talked with her children and had good times there. The next day we packed 7 of us into the Kia Sportage (it's totally normal for us to put 7-8 people in a cab here) and went to a restaurant for a meeting, and then the 3 of us and 2 supervisors set out for the north. After 3 hours, we got to one site in Estelí. Then we set out for Chagüitillo. We got here at sundown. There is another intern here in this town with me. We'll be working on separate projects, but it's good to speak English now and then. We went to our family's houses, and finally...I was at a house. My family here is super nice. We "have" electricity and water. The water goes out pretty often and the electricity is sporadic. I've taken one regular shower since Friday and the rest have been bucket showers. I've played 4 pick-up games of soccer, watched a lot of the Euro Cup (Go Spain!) and eaten mountains of rice. I've ignored roosters and had to move to the side of the road so the cows could pass. I start actual work next week. This week is getting to know the community and the organization. I'll be doing a lot of work at a farm that the organization owns. Tomorrow I get to go see the petroglyphs (cave art wall drawing things) that this community is known for. There is a lot of poverty here, and I'm still internalizing it while I'm getting over culture shock and getting accustomed to speaking and hearing spanish all the time again.

I love you all...and I think about LASP so much while I'm here. I love you mom and dad!! =)


Saturday, June 7, 2008

Hello, Managua

Hello Managua.

Hello Joel. Welcome back.

So many memories, and so many things are already difficult to see and deal with. Yet this will be incredible. For those LASPers reading, what Im doing this summer is a lot like the LASC concentration´s project placement...but in Nicaragua.

More later! And thats a promise.