Monday, June 25, 2012

It's May...

**I just found this post in my drafts from two years ago. I thought I'd publish it for fun :)

With my final language interview and COS conference just days away, I can't help but perpetuate a cliche: time flies. As a Peace Corps volunteer, years pass quickly as you count down the months from 27, the days from 803. Each second can feel like a lifetime (especially without electricity or running water), but it really does seem like just a month ago I picked up my entire life and moved it from Chicago to Ocotal.

And now here I am, the group that entered before mine is gone leaving Nica 47 as the next group to finish our service. I do feel like I've been here for 2 years in terms of personal growth, language abilities, relationships with counterparts etc., but I can't believe my time is almost done.

I'm very happy and fulfilled work-wise right now, and I'll hate to see that disintegrate as I re-enter the States looking for a job. Although my duties haven't changed much in the past couple of years, I'm feeling more settled and much more effective. I'm teaching high school students invaluable skills, working on a world map in the Casa Materna, planting a vegetable garden, and also teaching pricing strategy for products produced by my solar women. I love my life down here. The cold showers still get to me sometimes, the mosquito bites still itch, but it's been a great couple of years that I'll never take for granted.

I want to take this opportunity to thank my fellow Nica 47 volunteers, my amazing bosses and all of my friends and family that have supported me on this epic journey. I can't wait for the next.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Bienvenidos 2010!

Hey all!

Life is good. I have just under 6 months left as a Peace Corps Volunteer, and I think I'll be ready to move on come July 16th. I'm really enjoying my time here, and can't wait for the school year to start again, but 2 years is a very long time to be away from my family, friends, and a year is WAY too long to be away from Jason. It'll be a rough transition for here is just so much different. It's just crazy that I'm almost in the home stretch of my service.

School starts on February 2nd, and I've already had a small (HUGE) hiccup with one of my schools. They decided to form the schedule without even telling me, and they have all of my classes broken up YET AGAIN. It's the same principal and it's not like they don't understand the process. They're just being jerks. So, I'm going to go to the school tomorrow to yell. :)

It smells like rain here, but it's January. It never rains in January. It won't happen, but I'd like some precipitation right now.

Miss you all!

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Thank You, Google.

I'm in the Miami airport right now, and Google gave us all free internet for the holidays. How nice! Merry Christmas!

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Por Fin - A New Post!

It’s been quite a while since I’ve written. There’s no real reason…unless work counts. What I mean to say, is there’s no excuse. I apologize to my many, many dedicated readers.

So, it’s December. Just less than 8 months left in this adventure. I’ve definitely enjoyed it so far. In Peace Corps, there’s this interesting phenomenon of days taking FOREVER to pass, where the months fly by. I have no hypothesis as to why this happens; I just thought I’d share another little piece of my life with you.

I realize I haven’t really clued you in to what it’s actually like to live here: there is constant noise in this country. I’d say for the most part, Nicaragua sounds like a mix between unnecessary car horns, cat-calls, the non-clink of beer bottles being set on plastic tables, food frying in far too much oil (ckckckckckckckckc), motorcycle engines, Daddy Yankee being played through static-ky cell phone speakers, the deafening thud of mangoes falling on tin roofs, the background music from telenovelas, the scuttle of cockroaches at night, dogs barking in the streets, the pitter-patter of tortillas being made at 4:30 each morning. Oh, and excuses.

My description may seem less than comforting, but it’s actually quite endearing. Not the cat-calls, but I’ve begun to get a little sassy and talk back.

General Update:
School is now out for the year, and we’ll be starting back up again in the first week of February. Overall, the year went well. There have been some changes purposed to our curriculum by the Ministry of Education that will be tough to handle next year, but overall, is a step in the right direction. We’ve been teaching the business class to 4th year students, and one of the changes is to switch the course to 5th year. It makes more sense to have the class in the last year of high school because of the level of math required to understand the concepts, but the transition won’t be quite as flawless as we’d hoped – I’ll be teaching the same students the same class next year. Although this isn’t ideal, the class will also be required by every single high school in the country (with or without a volunteer). This shows that the Ministry of Education supports our work here, and recognizes the validity and importance of our entrepreneurship course.

I’m heading back for Christmas 2 weeks from today. I’m very very VERY excited for the break, for snow, for good food, my family, for friends, for Jason. Once I get back to Nicaragua, I’ll have just over 6 months left in my service. Plans for after Peace Corps: I don’t know.

Miss you all!

Friday, May 8, 2009

I can’t believe I’ve been living in Nicaragua for a year. When thinking in quantities of cold bucket baths, gallo pinto and struggling with learning a new language, it definitely feels like I’ve been here a while, but I’m still in shock at how quickly time moves no matter your location.

Peace Corps Volunteers live in this strange time continuum, where each day feels like it lasts about 72 hours, but the months seem to move at a regular pace. Maybe it’s the language barriers or the lack of Jimmy John’s subs, but when my work day lasts a full 10 hours here, I feel so run down, tired and cranky. In Chicago it was normal…Monday through Friday.

Well, it’s May again, which means rainy season has already begun AND is in full swing. It’s like clockwork – on May 1st there was a storm, and it has rained each day since then. I’m not looking forward to my 25 minute walks to school when it’s pouring (horizontally), but I am going to buy a pair of rubber boots and spray paint them yellow, which is definitely something to celebrate.

Not much is new here. I’ve been working on the website for the class that all of us business volunteers teach. When it’s a bit more presentable, I’ll post the link.

I’m heading back to the States for the first time in July. I can’t wait to eat good food, shop with my mom, see all of my family, and be in one of my friend’s weddings. I know it won’t be a relaxing vacation, and I’m sure I will be extremely overwhelmed with everything…American, but I’m definitely looking forward to it.

Miss you all!

Friday, April 17, 2009

Spring Break Nica Style

Last week was Semana Santa – it’s the equivalent of spring break in the States, with more of a religious intonation. That’s not to say the activities taking place are any more pure than a typical high school or college Cancun trip, it just means that Jesus will forgive the sinners BECAUSE they’re taking time off from school/work to celebrate Good Friday and Easter (by getting really drunk) instead of taking a hiatus because “it’s that time of year.”

For the first part of Semana Santa, Jason and I went to the Island of Ometepe to hang out with some of his friends. The island is in the middle of Lake Nicaragua – the only fresh-water lake in the world that has fresh-water sharks. Cool, eh? I didn’t see any though. I guess the Japanese came in a while back and had permission to kill 25,000 per year, and now the sharks only exist in the dark depths in the center of the lake. Anyway, Ometepe was formed by two volcanoes (one of which is still very active), and now has a relatively sizeable population…well, for Nicaragua. To get to the island, we took an hour-long boat ride from the port of San Jorge in Rivas. We stayed at this really cute hotel with fantastic breakfasts, and even though they don’t have AC, I’d stay there again just for the hash browns. During the days we kayaked in the lake, we went to a pool that was fed by a fresh spring, and by night we watched with NCAA tournament and drank Toña. We missed the championship game though, because we decided to head over to Rio San Juan by boat (12 hours), across the other side of the lake. I felt really nauseous for the first few hours of the boat ride. Jason and I had a bet on whether or not I would actually get sick. I won (of course). I was also awake all night, while Jason was fast asleep in his hammock. I can’t complain though; the sunrise was beautiful. We arrived in San Carlos very early the next morning, and immediately jumped on another boat heading to El Castillo. There’s nothing much to do in San Carlos. It looks cute from the water, and then you get off the boat…

El Castillo (the castle) is a beautiful little town about an hour east of San Carlos on the river. There actually is a castle (more like a fort), that was used by the Spanish to prevent the advance of the English up the river/further into Nicaragua. This little town is void of cars, taxis, cat-calls, white people and unfortunately, TV in English. We stayed at a really cute little hotel at the end of the road that had accidental entertainment of turtles and crocodiles directly off of the balcony of the restaurant. The crocodiles were more annoyed by the turtles than interested – there was no level of desire to consume the hard-shelled creatures. The turtles, on the other hand, like the free ride on the back of a crocodile, until we’d throw a banana peel in the water…then the fight for dinner ensued. It shouldn’t be too surprising, but I never would have guessed that turtles would get really excited about eating banana peels.

It rained just about every night, but during the day we were pretty lucky. We went horseback riding through the jungle and saw monkeys, we took a boat to a national reserve for a hike and saw those poisonous red…dart…tree frogs..? I can’t remember what they’re called… We woke up at about 5am one morning to see the 200-pound tarpon fish jump. Overall, it was one of the best vacations I’ve ever had. Until the bus ride back - 6 hours on a highway made of rock and sand the day after horseback riding.

That's all for now. I miss you guys... Can't WAIT to be back in the States for Katie's wedding in July!

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

I know I haven’t written for quite some time, but to try and recount the past 4 months in a blog would be nearly impossible. Here are the highlights:
1) At the end of October, I had 2 parasites, 2 amoebas and giardia at the same time. These 5 friendly attackers equal a not-so-friendly Nikki. I was sick for about 9 days…and not the sneezing sick, if you know what I mean.
2) I was stabbed with a screwdriver and mugged in Managua. It happened in that order, as well. I would expect that he would’ve tried to steal my purse first, but no, the stabbing component was somehow pivotal to his plan. Luckily the screwdriver was only able to penetrate my jeans once, so I have a single scar that resembles cellulite instead of a cluster resembling cellulite.
3) December in Nicaragua is interesting…and by interesting, I mean uneventful. Everyone uses Christmas as an excuse to do nothing the entire month. I can’t complain too much – it was a nice break to get to know my city a little bit better and to do a little bit of traveling on the weekends.
4) My friends and I celebrated New Years in San Juan del Sur. We had a lot of fun - I love the beach.

5) My school year began here at the beginning of February, and although we’ve started out rather slowly, things are starting to pick up. I’m excited to get rolling with my students. I’ve added another school to my workload – it’s a vocational school about 25 minutes from my house. I’m looking forward to working with these students (average age: 15-25, average education: some high school) because they are applying themselves and actually want to be a part of the program. I’m also trying to work with the office of tourism in Ocotal, but I’m not quite sure how my skills will be utilized. Because of the high demand, I’m also starting an English-speaking conversation circle with the English teachers in and around Ocotal.
6) It’s March! I’ve been here for 10 months – only 16 to go!
7) My sitemate will be done with his service on March 27th. Although I’m very VERY very sad to see him go, I’m excited for him to have hot showers every day and good food. Not to say gallo pinto isn’t great, but, uh… Anyway, I’ll have a new sitemate in April, and 2 other new volunteers that are within about 15 minutes of my site. I’m excited to meet them and see what kind of dynamic we create together for the next 16 months.

I think I’ve recapped the major events in the past few months. I promise I’ll get better about writing here. My goal is once every couple of weeks. I think this is doable unless my computer dies.

Miss you all!