Friday, November 23, 2012

One Week Left!

 I just finished my last final exam about ten minutes ago and I now only have one week left! Time has flown by so fast. I really do not feel like I have been here for almost four months. I have enjoyed so much about this trip and look forward to sharing my experiences with my family when I get home.

I miss so much about being at home. Thanksgiving was definitely not at all the same. No big lunch, no turkey, no saying what I am grateful for. I did, however, get to enjoy the last bit of the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade and the Purina Dog Show. It was nostalgic and really brought some holiday spirit. I introduced Manfred to these two family traditions and I think he enjoyed them. Although he seemed a little thrown off that people actually treat dogs as good as the ones in the shows. Hahah.

Unfortunately, no Christmas movies are out in Nicaragua yet, so the annual tradition of seeing a movie went down the tubes. Overall, it was not a terrible day, but nonethless, I will for sure be grateful to spend Thanksgiving in the states next year.

So here I stand with one week left and no school! Its time to whip out some last minute traveling and make up for that missed Thanksgiving dinner by stuffing myself for the last few times with all that delicious Nica food!

Thursday, November 15, 2012


Sometimes I am suprised to find that what I thought I knew was wrong. This past week I learned that everything I thought I knew about coconuts was incorrect.

First of all, I did not know they grew like big yellow footballs. I always thought they were small round, brown balls. However, this tree grows right outside my room, and sure enough, those are coconuts.

Second, I had no idea that you had to machete-y the yellow football to death to encounter the small brown ball, or the coconut. Plus the machete process takes skill. Manfred is a master and can tear through the cocnut in about five minutes. I attempted and succeed too, but it took me about half an hour and a lot of sweat.

 Finally, I also did not know that the meat inside the coconut shell starts out soft and only hardens with age. Also with a fresh cocnut you can jab a straw through one of the three small holes in the top of the cocnut shell and have a refreshing drink of coconut water RIGHT OUT OF THE SHELL!

 I was really suprised with all this new information about something simple like coconuts. Hopefully, there are other people like me out there and this is not just new information to me. Haha!

Monday, November 12, 2012

Weekend Recap

 With just 18 days left in Nicaragua, I have to do a lot of travel cramming! The next few weeks are already booked with ideas of where to go and what to do. I just hope there is time for it all.

This weekend, I decided to go to Diriomo to visit the Laguna de Apoyo. I was just in the city for a short while before heading off to the jungle hike to the laguna. But of course I had to see the old church first!

 Afterwards, I hopped into a Caponera and took off. These caponeras or mototaxis are everywhere! They are cheaper than a normal taxi, but probably not as safe seeing as they lack doors. They tend to stay off main roads, but in little towns and neighborhoods they are great.

 At the top of the hike we got a beautiful view of the laguna. It was gorgeous!

 Here we are ready to begin the long descent down. It probably took about forty minutes to walk and it was always very steep downhill the entire time. I was glad when we arrived at the bottom because my muscles could finally relax. I did not know walking downhill could be so terrible.

 The path was amazing. There were numerous butterflies of everydifferent color constantly flying around. Sadly, none of them stood still long enough for a picture, but they were great. There was also several birds chirping and occassionally Manfred could tell me which sound was from which bird. How awesome is that?!

Then we got to the best part of the hike. MONKEYS!! We saw six really cute monkys lounging around in the trees overhead. It was wild seeing monkeys in their natural habitat. 

The monkeys were too far away to get a good pic. sorry.

We finally arrived at the laguna, got to rest, swim, and eat, and of course have a blast!

 So maybe you remember me complaining about the walk down to the laguna. Well, you can only imagine the walk back out. Within the first ten minutes, I had stopped three time to catch my breath and drink water. Now I am not the most in-shape person, but  I am not that out of shape either, so believe me it was difficult. LUCKILY, luckily, luckily and I mean luckily, there was a truck with a couple of people that had left just before us. About fifteen minutes into the hike out, I could hear the truck struggling to get up a steep incline. As we came into view, sure enough the truck was still there, its tires smoking trying to move on and then rolling back exhausted. I decided we should stop and try to help these people, and after trying to put rocks and such in the way to create traction, the driver said "what we really need is more weight". In the end, Manfred and I got in the bed of the truck and were just enough weight that the truck took off up the incline and the rest of the path. Who knows how long we could have been hiking? I was really grateful for that blessing and everyone got home safely.

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Quick Trip

In a moment of spontaneity, Manfred and I decided to head to Mayasa, a small town about thirty minutes from Managua. We only had a little bit of time to be there, but we had fun! Here is what we saw:

 I loved the use of color in all of the houses. This blue building is actually the Mayor`s office. You do not see many official US buildings painted like this.

This is pretty common here too. The wall is all the same and there is not anything to distinguish between these two houses except the colors that are there. I wonder how they decided where to put the line?

 This old church was awesome, and with dusk falling the pictures turned out pretty cool too.

 I would definitely liked a little more time in Mayasa, but we had to hurry to catch the bus. I hear there are a couple of really great markets that sell loads of touristy stuff. One of them is even in a old, little castle! With the city so close. I will for sure be going back to see that.

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Elections, Elections, Elections!

My facebook wall has been filled with posts, both happy and angry, about the recent Obama reelection. Some claim we are headed to no where good while others are posting memes supporting Obama celebrating his victory. Well, my personal opinion is that the United States is hogging all the quality TV time. November 2nd was the Nicaragua Mayor Elections, and, I bet, the majority of the people reading this do not know that!! Where are the camera crews when there is political action here? Haha, maybe the election was not as important, but it is still worth mentioning.

Apparently, the Sandinistas won by a landslide with more than three fourths of the votes in all of Nicaragua. This huge victory was celebrated all night by people lauching loud fireworks in every neighborhood (not the type of cool, pretty fireworks either; the ones that just pop really loudly without any color or shape). Many people seemed to be incredibly excited by the results.

Upon asking someone when we would know the results of the elections, she replied, Oh since yesterday!  I was a little shocked and the party has been accused of fraud, but like I have said before: when in Nicaragua, just go with it!
The brown mark on Manfred's thumb, represents that he voted. Every voter is required to rub their right thumb in the ink after casting their vote. It prohibits you from voting again.

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

El Malecón

El malecón or the pier is basically downtown Managua. It is a nice, clean place with several historic buildings and sites.

The main attraction to el malecón I would say is definitely the old cathedral. It was in use until 1972 when an earthquake hit Managua and sent many buildings tumbling to dust. The cathedral still stands but has many cracks, is missing a roof, and is expected to crumble at any second.

From far away, you cannot really tell that anything is worng, but here are some up-close shots at the damage. 

 The structure right under the clocks is really cool on both of the towers because the four walls have completely seperated from each other, yet they are still up right.
 Look at the top of the two domes. The closer one has a cross, but the other one appears to have fallen. It has fallen backwards, but it is still just barely hanging on to the top of the dome with a little concrete. It looks so fragile, that everyone is just waiting for a little tremor to send it crashing down.

The grounds have been a little neglected as well!

Just across the street from the cathedral is a little fair. President, Daniel Ortega, ordered it for all the citizens in Nicaragua. It is completely free and will be here until Christmas.

There were thousands of people here and the lines were super long, but it had a really happy spirit and was fun to walk through. I had no intentions of riding any of the attractions as I believed there may be looser safety codes here (if any at all). However, some of the rides looked really fun and so Manfred and I sat and watched. It was great entertainment and we did not have to wait in line!

 Finally we went to the Malecón which looks out at Lake Managua. This lake was once a sewage dump and almost became a dead lake, but now the country is working on cleaning it up and reviving its beauty.

 At last, dusk came upon us and all of downtown lit up! It was so beautiful. The tree shown below in the largest tree in the city and is right in the middle of the fair. Other smaller trees are in all the round-abouts throughout Managua through thanks to the first lady.

Saturday, November 3, 2012

First Halloween!

So Halloween season crept up on me and although I have never been too much of a Halloween fan, the nostalgia was overpowering. In Nicaragua, Halloween passes every year bearly noticed. I was informed that only in "high class" neighborhoods do children trick or treat. Apparently my neighborhood was not going to met the mark. My Nica mom had also said besides that Halloween is normally only celebrated in the clubs where the women go as either a bunny or kitty cat. Hmmmm interesting..... Anyways as the day arrived the void in my heart got larger and larger until I was sure I would have to do something to celebrate.

After asking around a bit I was lucky enough to encounter someone who knew where I could find a pumpkin. My Halloween plans took off. Of course I had to involve Manfred, my boyfriend, because this would be his FIRST Halloween ever.

The idea of carving a pumpkin was foreign to Manfred. In fact he had never seen a pumpkin in real life since they do not grow in Nicaragua. So I had to explain the idea. He still did not really get it so I just told him to draw a face of shapes on the pumpkin. Now I thought that was a simple task; I even mentioned a couple of shapes and ideas. However, for someone who went to art school, it is OF COURSE much more complicated than doodling with a marker. He spent several minutes debating which pumpkin side was the cleanest, how big each shape should be, and what shapes would look the best.
Manfred comtemplating. Haha
 After much thinking we settled on some shapes for the face and began to draw.
 And let the carving begin!
After the heart shaped top was cut out, we began to pull out the seeds and pumpkin hair. I was overwhelmed with the familar scent of the pumpkin season and all the memories that were brought with it.
After slicing and idcing the pumpkin, it was finally finished. It looked great but even better once we put the candle inside.

 Manfred was highly impressed especially with the lighted pumpkin. It was super cute to see him all excited and proud of his work. It looks like five years in art school paid off! Although I am not sure pumpkin carving was ever taught. haha.

Although, there were no trick-or-treaters in my neighborhood, I refused to let the night pass without candy. As a result, we spent the last bit of the night going to some of the other exchange students´ houses to deliver a Halloween treat. Definitely not my typical, traditional Halloween, but it was great fun.