Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Whoa Boa

I was on my way to the health center one day when my friend Evelin called me over, and told me she had something in her backyard she had to show me.  I thought it would be her new guinea pig, or her neighbor's pet monkey.  I was wrong.

She had it hung up so that all the goo inside of it would fall into that pail she's holding, saying that it is an oil that cures a lot of illnesses.  So the goo is actual snake oil that Evelin will go on to sell.  This was a totally normal day.

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Adventures in Upholstering

During the last hurrah with the fellow volunteers from my group, someone decided that we all needed nicknames.  Then, someone decided that mine would be sexy grandma.  The grandma was in reference to my love of crafting, and the sexy was probably to make me feel better about being called a grandma at age twenty-six...also, as numerous Nicaraguans have pointed out, I am nalgona.

Anyway, the love of crafting and diy is definitely true, and as I face a more domesticated life here in the states, I have been fixated on getting an ottoman.  Not sure why, I just really wanted one.  So when I found my old little seat stuffed in the back of a hall closet, I knew what I had to do.

I remember being a little girl, sitting on this vanity chair and making silly faces at myself in the mirror.  I thought the pink checkers were great back then, but I now wanted to give it an update.  Luckily, I was able to travel to Portland in May for a friend's wedding, and while I was there, my ever crafty friend took me to Bolt, where I found this fun fabric.

With my brother's staple gun in hand, and pinterest instructions on how to upholster (favorite tip: don't try to upholster something unless it is puffy and has ledges that scream, "staple gun me here!"), I began.
First, I had to remove all of the previous staples...this was not as easy as I had thought.

There were layer upon layer of staples, and all at difficult angles, so that I couldn't really get at them with the staple remover.  I had to use my tapestry needle to get up under them and pry them up.  It took me the length of an entire movie just to get the piping off.

And under that were more staples.  They were so close to the bottom that I couldn't fit anything under them to pry up, so at that point I just decided to leave the old fabric in place, figuring it would hold the stuffing in place anyway.

You won this round, pink fabric.
Finally, I was ready to staple the new fabric in place.

The corners were tricky, but I took the corner of the fabric and stapled that down first, then folded and stapled in the leftover edges.

It looks just passable.  I'm glad people won't be inspecting the bottom of this thing.

Now to trim off the excess fabric.

Except, just when I had the seat at an angle where I could cut, my parent's cat decided she wanted to be sitting on it.  Thanks, Charm.

Finally free of excess staples, fabric, and cat, here is the more modern little ottoman/vanity seat.
Sexy grandma indeed.

Sunday, July 20, 2014

Repeat Please

This is my favorite photo of my friend, Edgar and me.  It was when we were judges for the Columbus Day celebration, or as many countries have renamed it, Dia de la raza.  One of the contestants for the "pretty indian" competition answered a straightforward question with a five minute long circumnavigation that involved peace, love, and solidarity.  These are our wtf faces.

Saturday, July 19, 2014

Juguetes para el Desarrollo

In the spirit of this post I'm sharing another arts and crafts activity to do with your community.  This time, it's child development toys.  Again, it is in Spanish, but the photos make it fairly straightforward.  Stay tuned for more diy projects, this time in the states.  I originally saw these toys when a fellow volunteer, Sarah O, showed me how to make them.

I. Motivación
Los niños necesitan estimulación temprana para desarrollarse correctamente.   

Tela                                                                                                                                                            Cinta
Aguja de coser


Pedazo de cartón, cortado en un círculo de 4”

II. Información
 Se dibuja en la tela alrededor del pedazo de cartón, haciendo un círculo. 

Se corta ese círculo.  Se repite pasos #1 y #2 hasta que tenga dos círculos idénticos.

Se dibuja una cara alegre en uno de los círculos.
Se cortan la cinta en pedazos de 1 ½ o 2 pulgadas, hasta que tengan 10-20 pedazos de cinta.

Se cosen los dos círculos juntos, pegando los pedazos de cinta, uno por uno, entre los círculos.

Se sigue así, cosiendo los dos círculos, y pegando los pedazos de cinta cada 2 centímetros, hasta que haya sólo 2 pulgadas del círculo que estén abiertas.  Se llena este espacio con el chingaste de la tela y 2 o 3 chichíles.  No se llena mucho, para dejar espacio para que suenan los chichíles.

Se sigue cosiendo, hasta que esté completamente cerrado el juguete.  Se hace un nudo al posterior del juguete.

III. Practica
  • Esta manualidad debe de ir acompañada con una charla sobre el cuidado de los chiquitos.  Así que, es perfecta para presentar en la casa materna, o en un grupo de mujeres embarazadas.
  • Siempre hay que refortalecer la importancia de ayudar a los niños desarrollarse las habilidades motores desde sus primeros días

IV. Aplicación
Que los padres de niños lo ocupen para ayudar en el desarrollo de sus hijos.
  • A un mes que lo usen para que el bebé lo siga con sus ojos.
  • A los dos meses que el bebé lo siga con la cabeza.
  • A los tres meses que el bebé gatea al juguete.
  • A los cuatro meses que el bebé intente a agarrarlo.
  • A los seis meses que los padres lo use para animarlo que gire de boca abajo a boca arriba

Friday, July 18, 2014

El Rey

Chepe (in the pink shirt) and I were the only sober ones at the party.  It was spectacular.

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Despedida..or Not

I dreamt of Nicaragua last night.  I could see sunlight falling down through the pink and blue mosquito nets of my host family's house as I lay on a giant bed with all my Peace Corps friends (we all magically fit, as you can in dreams).  I could feel the dirt outside being warmed by the sun, feel my hands wringing out the pila water from my hair, and hear abuela pounding out tortillas.

Then I woke up, and I felt like crying.

The same thing happened when I arrived in Nicaragua.  I would dream of my parent's house and wake up trying not to cry.  I never thought it be the other way around.

People ask me why I chose to stay in Nicaragua an extra year, and the truth of it is that a big reason was that for the longest time I wasn't happy there.  My first year, especially my first six months, were the loneliest I have ever felt.  One of my Peace Corps friends described the kind of loneliness that we feel as something deeper than we've ever felt before.  For me, it felt bone deep, like the loneliness sat with me every waking hour, poisoning my body and mind.  I tried explaining this to some friends back home, and they said that yeah, sometimes they felt so lonely they had to turn on music in their house, but that then they felt better.

It was like telling a chronically depressed person that yeah, I totally get what you're going through, sometimes I get sad when I look at a picture of a sad puppy.

It's not the same thing.
Then something magical happened.  I found people in my town who actually wanted to be my friend.  Not the gringa's friend.  Not that white chick's friend.  Not the new Peace Corp volunteer's friend.  My friend. People who didn't constantly criticize what I did, because it's not what the previous volunteer did.  People who didn't make sexual advances out of the blue.  People who didn't give the stank eye when I told them I didn't know when I was next going to the states, so I couldn't really buy them that camera, MLB hat, etc. they wanted.  People who made me laugh, and who laughed at my odd jokes.  People who worried about me, and who I cried for when tragedy struck.  People who made me glad to be there.

And I felt cheated to have just one year of that.  So I stayed.  And I feel like a part of me still stayed behind when I left back in April (yes, it's taken me this long to write about it).  It's surprising how easy it is to slip back into my old routines, how real the danger of forgetting is.  Sometimes it feels like my time in Nicaragua really was just a dream.  But I never want to forget, especially not the bad times, because that's what made the good times so special; what made me stronger today than I knew I could be.  Also, what has given me a zero tolerance for bullshit (seriously ya'll, stop complaining about doing laundry in machines; imagine washing it by hand before you throw your pity party).

More than anything, I want to remember the people who made me so happy, and who I hope I touched as well.

This is Ili with her granddaughter, Leonela (and me).  She ran a comedor, always gave me an absurd amount of food, and made me laugh more than anyone in town.  One day, when her comedor was especially busy, and she was shorthanded, she "hired" me to be a waitress.  I did alright, until I put a glass of juice on the uneven part of the table, spilling it all over the customer.  After I apologized, mortified by what I'd done, we all laughed (even the guy), and she promptly fired me.

I've been remiss in updating this blog, mostly because it was hard to admit that I'm no longer in Nicaragua, but looking back  my photos, I see that I have so many more stories to tell.  So I'll be updating more often, with some photos and stories I haven't told yet.  Hopefully, when I'm feeling especially ambitious, I'll post some of my post-Peace Corps adventures to Panama, Ecuador, and back in the good ol' U.S. of A.  

There are still adventures, still travels, still stories left to tell.

Friday, April 11, 2014

Men Taking Up Too Much Space On The (Taxi)

Excuse me sir, does your leg HAVE to touch mine?  Yes?  Ok, keep yelling into your cellphone and staring at me.  It's cool.