Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Happy 20th Birthday to Me

Yesterday was my 20th birthday woah!! It was the first birthday in many that I actually felt a little older. Maybe it is just because, I can no longer be a kid, preteen, teen, or adolescent. I am just 20, but hey thats still young.

My birthday was really relaxed. I treated it as a dia ferial and may have ditched out on class, but its my birthday. In the afternoon, Manfred and I went to Laguna Tiscapa. The actual laguna is being cleaned and can not be swam in, but if you climb up a small hill, there is a beautiful view of the city and a little park.

The views of the Laguna were great, btu when I turned around I got even better views of Lake Managua and the rest of the city. It was truly gorgeous.

At the top of the hill is also the large Sandino statue that looks over the city. I had seen it off in the distance many times, so I was excited to be right next to it! Look at how little he was haha. 

 Later that night, some of the other host moms and friends came over for some cake and to sing the traditional Nicaraguan birthday song. It was a blast!

 Here´s to the start of a new year!

Monday, September 24, 2012

Weekend Recap!

This weekend was the best! I am not even sure why because the circumstances were not supreme. However, it was the greatest couple of days I have had.

I got invited to go on a one day camp out with some of the young single adults from another ward in Managua. It sounded like a blast, and since I love camping, I was very excited. We took off Friday afternoon driving to Jinotepe.

The drive (a little over an hour) was gorgeous! There were so many amazing views of uninhabitated rain forest. Unfortunately it started raining, which was also beautiful, but I could not capture good photos. So I will definitely have to head back out there soon to see the great views again.
 I was told that we were going to a house on a little farm and that we would set up tents on the property to sleep in. For some reason, I pictured a grand cabin hidden in the middle of the rain forest. Let`s say.... I was a little off.

 The house we pulled up to, as you can see, was plywood and scrap metal held together with nails. Dirt floors and no water. The family made rain gutters to collect water, and when there is no rain they make a fifteen minute walk down to a shallow river. Oh and the bathroom....

Not ideal to say the least. I had seen poverty like this all over Managua. In fact just up the street where I live is a "barrio" or groups of homes like this. However, it is one thing to see poverty, and something completely different to live in it, even for just one day. 

This family lives mainly off the food from the Bishop`s Storehouse (and the many chickens on the property), but the woman also makes homemade tortillas to sell at 2 cordobas a piece. The tortillas were so delicious and in the morning many of the local people rode bikes to the house to buy tortillas.  

When night came, we realized that someone had forgotten to bring the poles and stakes to set up the two tents, so we improv new sleeping arrangements. 
The boys slept here:

And the girls got to sleep inside the house.

That night we spent around a firse, cooking marshmallows and hot dogs while playing lots of fun games. It was great!

 The following morning, the girls got up to make breakfast, and then we all headed off to the BEACH!
 At first the bishop was debating whether we should go, but once he heard that I had not seen a Nicaraguan beach, everything was settled. We landed twenty minutes later at the beautiful Casares Beach.

 It was truly gorgeous with the numerous large rocks in the water and the black sand.

After the beach we ended up going to the shallow river I mentioned earlier to play around. This was ¡¡bien calidad!!  Nobody had clothes to get wet in, but we all just went with what we were wearing. There was one area where the river was about two feet deep, so those that did not want to comply, got "baptised" haha. It was great!

I have no idea why, but I returned to Managua with the biggest smile. I got to meet  more happy, fun people. Although the material conforts were completely removed, it was an amazing experience. I learned about a different lifestyle, one that is so new to me. I got to see so much beauty in everything! It was an amzing time!

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Farmacia to the Rescue

For the last couple of days, I have been a little sick. Nothing to worry about, just the common cold: sore throat, plugged up nose, coughing, that sort of thing. I figured that it would go away within a day or two. However, after four days I was getting tired of not feeling my best, so I made my first trip to a farmacia or pharmacy (if you could not figure that out).

I was surpised at the wide range of goods the farmacia offered. For cough syrups and adult diapers to barbie dolls and make-up. I guess it was really like a Walgreens packed into a really tiny room.

Well, I knew what I wanted, amoxicillin, and I was glad I did not have to go to the doctor to get a prescription. In my house in the states, amoxicillin is a quick fix to most illnesses (ear infections, sore throats, etc.) so whenever someone has a prescription for it, we take as little as possible until we feel better. Then we save the rest for the next time someone gets sick. Thus we avoid having to pay the doctor when we already know what we need. 

But here in Nicaragua, guarding Amoxicillin is unheard of.  At the farmacia, I simply asked for the pills and ten seconds and 20 cordobas (less than a dollar) later I had 10 pills of amoxicillin. Today after a couple doses I am feeling great! Thanks Farmacias!!

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Weekend Review

So this past weekend was pretty dull. The majority of the city bolted to San Juan Del Sur to enjoy Independence Day. However, to play it safe and avoid the drunk crowds, I stayed in Managua.

Although not much went on in the city, I did get to enjoy a LDS Spanish Primary Program. The children from one of the four stakes in Managua put on a little show to commerate Dia de Independencia. I witnessed some tradition dances, patriot songs, and even a renactment of a battle. The kids, although visibly nervous did a great job!

On Saturday, I went to the movies to see Paranorman. Going to the movies here is like the best thing ever. They are so cheap. The movie ticket was $3.00, popcorn $2.00 and skittles (my favorite) $1.00. The movie theater is just a short taxi ride away, so it makes for a great activity. I probably go to the movies at least every two weeks. I am definitely going to miss this when I go back to the states!

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Beauty all around

Yesterday I had an experience that opened my eyes a bit more. I returned back to UNAN and climbed up this small hill. From the top, I had a great view of the city of Managua, and it was gorgeous. Actually, the majority of the city appeared to be nothing but jungle with only a handful of buildings peeking above the massive canopy of trees. Everything was green and fresh. There was a gentle wind that made the weather perfect.  It was a view I will never forget.

I realized that I may be focusing to much on the little things that, you could say make, make the city ugly. Because of that, I missed the big picture and the beauty that really exists. I was too preoccupied with the dirt, heat, garbage, and cracked sidewalks to  comprehend the trees, flowers, and the sweet aroma of a clean wind. I am thankful for this experience and am going to try to recognize all the beauty that is around me.

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Traveling Through Managua

For anyone interested in my current transportation:

Getting from place to place in Managua has been fairly easy thanks to the BUSES. El Mercado Oriental, Mercado Huembus, my school, the gym, and  the church are where I commonly am, and I can reach them all by bus. Two bus routes actually have stops right in front of my house, so that makes the situation even better. To get to school I walk about five minutes to the stop and then spend about 15 minutes on the bus followed by another 5 minute walk. Its quick, easy and most importantly super cheap. Every bus ride costs 2.5 cordobas or about 10 US cents. So the average school week I spend less than $2.50 on transportation.

The only downside to the buses is the amount of people. Although each bus has a clearly stated maximum capacity it is ALWAYS overlooked during rush hour. Many times my crammed bus has pulled up to a stop crowded with people and I think ''they can not possibly fit more people on this bus. These people will have to wait''. It never fails, however, that two people step off the bus and 15 more get on. Sweaty, smelly, and tired bodies pile in. Occassionally, especially around 7 am and 5 pm, people cling to the open doors of the buses sometimes with half their bodies hanging in the street. With all the crazy traffic and drivers in Managua, it is absurd and dangerous! Luckly, normally the men are generous enough to allow the women into the bus while they cling.

Besides the buses, there are, of cours,e taxis. I am constantly told to be cautious with the taxis, but so far I have not run into any problems. There are always those terrible stories, but for the most part the drivers are just looking for an honest way to make a living. Taxis, of course, cost more than the bus fare and the price is even more at night (the buses stop at 8:30 pm, so sometimes you must take a taxi), but normally it does not exceed 50 cordobas or $2.10. Plus a taxi is much faster and less crowded haha. I commonly use the taxi to go to the local mall and it normally only costs about 40 cordobas.

In Managua, buses and taxis are the only forms of public transportation, but they are very accessible.

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Weekend Review

So due to erupting volcanoes and earthquakes, I did not get to go to Leon on Sunday. One of the volcanoes is erupting 50% more than usual and some people are having to evacuate. This is considered a green alert, which is not terrible but worse than no alert. Needless to say, the trip had to be postponed. Another day perhaps.

I did, however, get to go to Super Sabado at the church. It was a blast! First, we divided into groups and  I got to test my scripture mastery knowledge. For those who do not know, LDS high school students are challenged to memorize 100 different scripture passages. For the game, we were given a few key words from each scripture and then had to come up with the reference. I was surprised at not only how much I rememebered from my high school days but also how well I did translating the scriptures from Spanish to English and back. In the end my team even won! I like to think I had something to do with that:)

Super Sabado ended with another LDS Party which was simular to the experience I had the weekend prior. However, I did get to learn a few more basic steps to a couple types of dances from my friend. I am definitely going to rope him into teaching me more!

Another highlight of this weekend was my trip to UNAN, the public university that is right next to my neighborhood. The muchacho, who is going to teach me to dance, studies there, so he showed my the highlights.

This is the view of the street from a bridge. All of the roofs to the left are little "restaurants" to eat at.

These are cyber cafes and convience stores. The neighborhood is full of them because many of the students live close. Very helpful to me because I do not have a computer!

In most of the hallways of UNAN large murals like this one are present. Gotta love Che.

Here are the university approved safety procedures for small earthquakes or "sismos" and fires or "ïncendios". Notice that it tells you not to use the fire extinguisher and the first rule is always to remain calm.

The far corner of the campus is occupied by the zoologico de UNAN. The university has undertaken to repopulate the iguana and turtle species of Nicaragua. I had never seen so many iguanas before!

This is the home for the young iguanas, I thought this was interesting until I saw the adults.
The adults' home is centered around a giant tree. The iguanas that sit in the higher parts of the trees are apparently more respected and powerful. 

There were several iguanas running around on the ground, so my friend threw a mango to them. Instantly four or five iguanas began attacking it, but then more and more kept coming.  We had no idea what was going on unto we saw this.....

 He is huge and strangley an orange color. I do not know if his color made him king or if being king makes him somehow orange. Definitely strange or in Spanish, Que Salvaje!

Soon all the iguanas had fled the tree following their leader. Apparently in the last minutes of bright sunshine, they descend to take in the light. We joked that they were praying because they were all in the same position and looking upward.

 My experiences this weekend were definitely something to remember. I had a great time!

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Mercado Mishap

Well, against my liking I will be returning to Mercado Oriental this afternoon! I anticipate that my new Nica guide will be a little more considerate and not constantly running away. I am a little nervous, but am hopeful that I will find the perfectly cheap and small camera for my stay here. Then foto mania can begin! Wish me luck!

I have a great weekend ahead. Saturday is Super Saturday with the LDS Institute and Sunday I am going to Leon for sand boarding! Stay tuned.

Also if anyone has an idea for a post or wants to know about something specifically, just leave a comment. Maybe a description of foods, drinks, past times? Whatever, just let me know.

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Check It Out such a cute song and always puts me in a good mood. I hope you enjoy it!

By the way, I am going on Thursday with a friend to buy a camera, so be prepared for lots of photos.

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Good Days Vs Bad Days

In transtiting to living Nica style, I notice that I have some bad days and some good days. Some days the children I live with are more bearable than other days; sometimes then food taste worse, sometimes better. Ocassionally, I am in a better mood and more optimistic, other times not.

Luckily for me the last couple of days have been good days. I made some friends and even got to watch a movie with one of them. I have been able to find peace in my chaotic home, and I have ended the busy days feeling satified and proud.

Maybe I am finally finishing this terrible adjustment process. I am loving the food, accepting the people, and pushing out of my mind the things that drive me crazy (like the cat calls). I will not lie, most days I am still reminded of how much easier things would be if I was home, but I am counting the blessings and opportunities that I am having here.

I am still not sure I am in love with everything Nicaragua, but I am accepting it! Things are looking up.

Monday, September 3, 2012

LDS Nica Party

This past Friday I was excited to attend the Young Single Adults´ party hosted by my LDS stake. I ended up arriving an hour early (they told us the wrong time so that the Nicas would show up when they actually wanted to start haha), but it worked out because I got to practice the piano for a bit.

At seven oclock, the real party got started. At first everyone was sitting along the wall and chatting, while the DJ was trying to convince people to dance. Finally, a few girlfriends and I headed out the dance floor, and after a few moments of embarrassment, others followed. I felt awkward because, of course, the music was more Latin based and the casual dance step was salsa inspired. Luckily, thanks to those loca Zumba classes, I was not left completely clueless.However, I still struggled trying to tame my clearly American moves.

About twenty minutes into the night I was asked to dance! However, unlike the stake dances in Arizona where I would dance one song with someone, then say thank you and move onto the next person, I was excepted to dance with that one person FOREVER. At the end of the night, I was asked by three guys, but was dancing for the entire four hours! I had a great time and definitely improved my dancing abilities but was glad to stop moving/embarrassing myself when the party ended.

Another surprise was the music selection. In Mesa, Arizona because of the high Mormon population there are specific DJs that only play clean, fun music at the weekly dances. Here, with a smaller LDS community, my girlfriend was constantly having to run up to the DJ and ask him to play something less vulgar. We ended up giving him suggestion like the Macarana and Mumbo Number 5. He seemed caught off guard when some of the popular songs were asked to be changed, but he definitely got a hang of the music we wanted.

This dance party was another sign of how different things are down here in Nicaragua. However, I still had a great time and was glad to meet some amazing friends that share my same standards. Luckily, different does not always mean worse!