I’ve been in site for about a month and I have sooooooo much to update everyone on! …No, wait – I haven’t really done anything at all. Shooooot. It’s been hard to update you all on my life because really I spend the majority of my waking hours just hanging out with my host family and/or with other members of the community. But in an effort to give you all a better understanding of my life, here are some thoughts/observations/surprises I’ve experienced in the past month:
- I still don’t know how to wash my clothes using a pila. I’ve really been trying to master the soap to water to scrubbing ratio but every time my host mom or one of my host sisters (and yes, even my 8 year-old host brother) ends up taking whatever article of clothing I’m attempting to wash from me and does it for me.
- I went running for the first time here – and it was HARD! Honestly I don’t know how anyone can run at altitude… I go for 20 minutes and want to keel over and die. Props to those of you who are able to do this no problem!
- My bathroom situation. I am proud to say that I am becoming accustomed to using the latrine that we have in the back of my house… I no longer fear it like I had and can breathe out of my mouth while inside (most of the time).
- SO. MUCH. DUST. The wind here is really strong all of the time, and every morning there’s a layer of dust that pretty much covers everything. I’m constantly washing my face/hands/self-in-general trying to get some of this off of me. Which brings me to my next point:
- It is cold! I never thought that I would be cold in Nicaragua, but here I am up in the mountains (wasn’t expecting that either), and I am dressing in layers! OK, so most of you are in Wisconsin right now and it’s December, which means you win – but when you have to take showers using a rain barrel and a bowl it seems SUPER cold. I usually wait to shower until 1 or 2pm, not because the water is any warmer but because I’ve been able to mentally prepare myself by this time.
- Field to plate. It’s pretty amazing how close we are here to the food that we’re eating. My family plants, farms, and cultivates their own beans and vegetables, they buy their rice from an aunt that has a large plot of land about a mile away, and we only eat meat when someone in the community kills and sells an animal they’ve been growing in house.
- I feel like I’m being watched all of the time – because I am. Whether it’s walking down the street or sitting in my room, I’m definitely the new (gringa) kid in town… In fact, one of my little friends is looking over my shoulder as I type this to see if she can read any of the English words on the screen. I’ve gotten surprisingly used to going about my business (i.e. brushing my teeth, writing a lesson plan, peeling an orange) with people just staring at me.
- We bake here! Honestly, I’ve baked more here using a wood stove than I ever did in the US. It’s a good way to bond with my host sisters and I am happy to report that we have made (almost successfully) cookies and a cake, complete with frosting! Soooo yes, we may have burned the cake and then broke it into tons of pieces when we were attempting to transfer it to the plate, and yes, we tried to make a pineapple tort that turned out to be a little chewy (they all joked that we could start selling gum out of the house) – but don’t you worry, by the end of these two years I’ll be a professional! Who knows, I may even start my own cake-making-using-a-wood-stove business… I could call it “Cake Boss: Campo Style.” Let me know if you want to be a part of this.
- I’ve been working… sort of. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not just sitting in Matagalpa doing nothing, I’m just not doing that much. I’ve been giving English classes on Monday and Wednesday afternoons to about 25 kids as well as hosting a literature hour twice a week. I’ve also started my first abonera (not sure how this is going to work out), and my vivero. My plan for this week is to get my fence done for my vegetable garden (this is the most important part seeing as we have tons of animals roaming around, some of which are pretty big and hungry!). I’m starting a women’s group in January and have been participating in community meetings… I’m hoping that in the next few weeks I’ll be able to talk to the school director about starting a small garbage program (they bury their trash in a giant hole right now), and that together we will be able to start something up when the school year begins again in February.
Other than that I’m still here living my life, and while some days are defintely better than others, I’m trying to make the best of it! I miss you all terribly (the holidays are definitely not helping) and hope that you’re doing well! I’ve been trying to send out mail to people, I hope it all gets through! Thanks to everyone who has taken the time to send things to me as well – I really appreciate it! Love you all!