Wednesday, April 2, 2014

An Open Letter to my Neighborhood Cats

Inspired by this post and this charmer:

Dear Cats,

I understand your appreciation of the fact that I have both a front and back balcony that are level with the tin roofs you frequent.  That, however, does not mean you can use my house as a shortcut to get from one balcony to the other, as you give me your haughtiest look.  I f*cking live here.  Get out.

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

La Boda

My host sister, Kimberlin, got married a little over a week ago.  She has been talking about it for a while now, but suddenly sprung the date on me a little more than a week before the fact, so I had to rush from a meeting in Managua to be sure I was there for it.  There was no way I could miss it, and I'm so glad I didn't.

As soon as I stepped off the bus, I ran into my sister-in-law, Olga, and niece, Dayana, as they were picking up Dayana's little bride's dress from the seamstress.  Instead of flower girls and ring bearers, the tradition is to have "little brides and grooms" who will dress up like mini versions of the actual bride and groom, and lead the procession into the church.  We all went to Olga's house where I changed into my dress, and Dayana into hers.

Notice all the bags of corn they have piled in the living room.  It is my host brother's new business endeavor - buying corn from the farmers, then transporting and selling it in Managua.
All dressed up.
I walked Dayana to my host family's house where everyone was still getting ready, even though the wedding party was supposed to be at the church in half an hour.  It was chaos, with most of my family still in their towels, running around, fighting over who would take a bucket bath next, and cooking all at the same time.

The neighbors and my cousin, cooking up vats of beef stew.

Jerson, all bathed, and ready to dress up as the little groom.
 About an hour after the supposed starting time, Kim was ready to head to the church, though everyone was teasing her at this point, saying that her groom had gotten tired of waiting, and left.
The procession
The wedding usually starts with a procession from the bride's house to the church.  It is usually walked, but my family was being their best, and took their car instead.  I should mention that this is the only occasion I have seen them drive this car.  Ever.

Can everyone just stop and recognize how badass Jerson is?
Coolest five year-old I know.
The ceremony involved a full mass, and instead of exchanging only vows and rings, it is tradition for the couple to be looped together with a garland, and for the groom to give the bride coins as a representation of his promise to provide for her...I'll leave my thoughts on the overt machismo of that practice aside for now.

My host mom, Doña Esperanza, with the little brides and groom.

All the girls I love: Danelia, my host sister; Yami, host cousin, Olga and Vanessa, both host sister-in-laws.
 After mass, (presided by the ever awesome Padre Cornelius) we walked back to my host family's house for the reception.  But not before Kim switched shoes with her mom, since she couldn't stand to be in her high heels for one more second.
The walk back home for the reception.
The rest of the night, I put my camera away, and danced like fool with the women of my family in our coconut tree-filled patio until about 1 in the morning when the sound system guys packed it up for the night. 
By that time, Dayana and Jerson were passed out next to each other on the couch, and out of town relatives had put their mats and blankets down on the ground to sleep, since we were out of sleeping space in beds. We hung around eating, drinking, and talking until around 2am, and then I assumed everyone was done partying for a while.  I should have known better.  When I went back to the house in the morning, my host brothers and their friends were still going at it.  Some more so than others.

This guy.  He started snoring not long after I took this.

Monday, March 31, 2014

Chagas and Texts

While researching Nicaragua before arriving here, nothing terrified me quite as much as learning about chagas.  It is a disease most often transmitted by bugs we call chinches in Nicaragua.  The bug will bite its victims while they sleep, usually on the face, and then leave their feces in the bug bite, because why just be satisfied with sucking the blood of your victims when you can defecate on them as well?

All this is rather unpleasant, and the bite will cause some mild flu-like symptoms, but that is not the terrifying part.  Oh no.  That comes ten or so years later, when the parasite has wrecked havoc on the body's nervous and digestive systems, as well as the heart, which will sometimes just go into arrest.  Imagine it, getting bitten by that bug, not realizing what has happened, and then dying of a heart attack years later.  Now imagine going to live in a place where those bugs live too.

Luckily, my department has a very low rate of chagas, and not many chinches, so I've never worried for my safety...but I still don't like the idea of them being around, which is why I got worried when my friend and fellow volunteer sent me the following text:  I think we had a chagas bug in the house :(

The rest of our conversation went something along the lines of:

Me: Did they take it to the centro to see if it was infected [with chagas]?
Her: No.  Should we do that?
Me: Yes, take it to the health center, you didn't squash it did you?
Her: Yeah, someone took a shoe to it after we chased it outside.
Me: Just don't squish it more, you need it kinda intact for the test.
(five minutes pass...)
Her: It got ran over by a car after they squished it.

At that point, I just started laughing, because of course, that happened.  My friend did eventually take it to the health center for the test to see if it had the chagas parasite in its gut, this is what she said:

On closer inspection, its head is much more rounded.  I showed nurse at the centro the remains and asked if this type of bug carries chagas.  She said no.

And all was right again in the land where death-bearing bugs are run over by cars on a daily basis.

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Moroso Desgraciado

The hardest working man in all of my town, and possibly Nicaragua, is the arroz con leche man.  He walks all over town selling newspapers and rice pudding that he carries in a giant tupperwear container on his head, from sun up to sun down.  His shirt is almost perpetually soaked with sweat all the way to his waist, and if you sit anywhere for more than twenty minutes, you will see him pass at least twice, announced by his nasal cry of, "La Preeensaa.  Arroz con leeeeecheeeee."  A few months ago, I saw him walk by with a piece of paper taped onto his plastic container saying, "ya pronto, LISTA DE MOROSOS."  I suppose I should not have been surprised, seeing how hard he works, but I was indeed surprised to see that people had accumulated enough debt with him that he felt he needed to make a list of their names to shame them into paying up.

Are you unsure about your excessive use of exclamation points?  Just make them look like question marks, and add some uncertainty to your enthusiasm.

For that is what a lista de morosos is; a list of names of people who are in debt to a business.  Buying things on credit is pretty common here, whether someone has the credit or not to do so, which naturally leads to a lot of debts.  Businesses will often talk to the debtors, trying to settle things, but if that doesn't resolve anything, they know that shame will always work wonders.  That's where the lista de morosos comes in.  They will post it in the largest lettering possible, in plain view of everyone, so the whole town will know who is a moroso desgraciado.  Some will even include details of particular morosos, like where they work, or how much they owe.  I can't even imagine how mortifiying it must be for someone to find their name up on that list, and I know I would pay up immediately to have my name erased as soon as possible, if it ever happened to me.

It seems that all the arroz con leche morosos felt the same way, and payed up when they saw their names would be on a lista de morosos for pudding, none the less.  I suppose that is why I never did see the arroz con leche man post his list - everyone settled their debts, not wanting to call his bluff.  He knows what he's doing that arroz con leche man.  Well done sir.

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Chanchito de Plastico

The past week or so, I've been frantically typing on my computer, trying to finish work of the health sector.  It all relates to our goals and objectives that would probably not be interesting for anyone not involved in it, but part of it is compiling arts and crafts activities that volunteers can use that will related to some of those goals.  So I thought I would share one activity, and how it relates to our Spanish.  Hey, don't complain, we have google translate, and I am doing all this work in Spanish to begin with, and damned if I'm spending more time translating it back again.

Here is how to make a piggy bank out of a plastic bottle, and how it can be used to get kids thinking about making future goals.  *This craft has been around for a while, I didn't think it up, just put pictures to it*

I. Motivación

Con un lugar para guardar su dinero, se plantea la idea de planear para la vida.
Una actividad de reciclaje también refortalece la importancia de cuidar de nuestra planeta.


Botella plástica con tapa
4 tapas de botella
Pega silicona

Pintura (opcional)

II. Información

  • Se corta la mitad de la botella.

  • Con el cuchillo, se corta un hueco en el parte anterior de la botella.

  • Se pega los dos extremos de la botella.
  • Del plástico de la mitad, se cortan dos triángulos para hacer las orejas.

  • Se pegan a la botella.

  • Se corta un pedazo para la cola, y se enrolla para que se vea rizada.

  • Se pega al trasero del chancho.
  • Se pegan las tapas para hacer las patas del chancho.

  • Se dibujan la nariz y los ojos.

  • Si quieren, se puede pintar el chancho.

III. Practica
·         Esta manualidad debe de ir acompañada por una charla sobre la importancia de pensar en el futuro/tener metas.
·      También se puede hablar de la importancia de pensar en el futuro del planeta, y cuidar el medio ambiente.
     IV. Aplicación
     Que los participantes ocupen sus chanchitos para guardar dinero para cumplir sus metas futuras.

Monday, March 10, 2014

Birthday Video

I really wanted to post a video I have of everyone singing Las Mañanitas on my birthday last year, but it appears to be too big.  I wanted to see if I could post some videos on here though, so here is a very blurry video of Lindsey breaking open the piñata she, Sarah, and Sophia (the other PCVs in my training town) got for me during my first Nica birthday.

Edit: Has anyone actually gotten this video to play?  I've been waiting for a while now, and there is nothing more than the spinning wheel of death.  Does blogger even really do videos?  I no long believe they work on here.


This was the beautiful aftermath: