Central America, Spring ^10

June 11, 2010

Friday morning in Esteli

Filed under: Uncategorized — samanthabass @ 6:06 pm

Everything was different this week. Like, 360 shift. It only rained once, and it was sunny and perfect all the other days  – weird! Also, the first/second grade teacher came back to school on monday. She´s been out for three months because she had a baby. I walked into the room monday morning and had no idea what was going on, the kids were all sitting in their chairs and facing the board (I wasn´t even there!) while she was writing an activity on the board for the first graders. They were quiet and sitting and then I started checking their homework and they they were still quiet and listening. One of the kids got up for a second and started touching another boy and the teacher (from across the room while teaching first grade) yelled ´sientate bien bryan!!´(sit well bryan, like fully in the chair not slouching.) How wonderful are the angels in my class now! I had no idea! And surprisingly, they all like the teacher too and smile at her and she smiles back at them. And then yells and pinches their ears when they are insolentes. So…everything is different in the classroom and in terms of the weather.

No more time to update I´m late for lunch adios! MAybe will update again this weekend…so many things


June 5, 2010


Filed under: Uncategorized — samanthabass @ 5:47 pm

There is so much sun now where I am. It´s warm and sunny until about two or three. Then it downpours (like, empty sky of all water) for a bit. Sometimes it doesn´t even rain at all. Incredible to think this is the same country as last week!

I bought a bunch of copied DVDS with music videos to listen to and watch when I come home in two weeks and feel nostalgic. I also bought a hollister shirt (US. $2.00) so I blend in more in the campo.

I´ve been doing lots of interviews with the video camera. On wed my friend´s uncle gave me a walking video tour of the hacienda (place of doing things, community center) and the coffee beneficio (where they process the coffee). On thursday I followed my friend around all morning while he showed me all the coffee plants and what he does, with his machete! Friday I interviewed two workers in the UCA office in Miraflor.

Today is gonna be a big night, we´re going back to Miraflor and they´re gonna kill a chicken or two and we´re gonna drink a bottle of rum (drinking age in Nicaragua: 18) with all the cousins and friends. Before we´re painting nails.

What else…. the children are still ´insolentes´as usual and are angels after class is over. I´m gonna interview some of the kids too next week, I think they´ll love that. I play with the camera sometimes with the seven year old in my house and the little cousins they get such a kick out of it.

Have fun at the 8th grade dance Daniel!

May 29, 2010


Filed under: Uncategorized — samanthabass @ 9:05 pm

I only have a few minutes, but hello! I´m in Esteli right now, we´re leaving at four for Miraflor. Tomorrow is Dia de las Madres, which is apparently the biggest deal ever in Nicaragau, don´t know about other countries. But there´s gonna be some sort of festivities in Miraflor tomorrow don´t know what.

Classes are good, really fun. I´m starting to know what I´m doing. I´m a pro second grade teacher. They really like to draw so we´ve been doing some of that. They also talk about the soccer ball that the American students brought last week a lot. I really like English class because it´s like Spanish class for me. And my students LOVE it, it´s such a drastic change from the wild seven year olds.

My friends from Denmark left yesterday. They were here for three weeks and thought they´d stay three days. Really nice we got to teach together for a bunch.

I did four interviews so far, interviews are really really interesting. I understand most of what they say, maybe less than most, but the people are all really nice and won´t let me leave without telling me everything of their life and making me drink coffee and-or tea. I also interviewed two people in the Miraflor office yesterday.

It rains a lot. Apparently there´s some rain storm that´s extra rain over Miraflor right now, according the the radio. I think there´s just some huge rain cloud stuck on top of the mountain and I live in it so it pretty much rains everywhere, inside, outside, etc. It´s really pretty though. Sometimes it stops for an hour or so. The animals love it. The coffee too prob. I got an umbrella.

Well, I have to go catch a bus now. Will write in a week!

May 21, 2010


Filed under: Uncategorized — samanthabass @ 11:58 pm

I´m in Esteli now in an internet cafe. I really like what I´m doing here and it´s going to be a lot harder than I thought to leave, four more weeks! How fast time goes! The girls from Denmark liked it so much in Miraflor that they decided to stay for another week, which is really nice so we can keep teaching together. There was a group of seventeen students from the University of Boulder, Colorado in Miraflor this week for a service-eco-tourism alternative spring break trip. They helped build two showers by the well and added to the structure to prevent rainwater from mixing with the well water. There were three of them living in my house so I got to talk to them a bit. They´re only in Nicaragua for 10 days total.

I helped my hostcousin? roast and package the coffee for the students to buy. This morning I also went to a meeting at the UCA Miraflor where they were talking about their eco’tourism projects and organizational things.

The kids at the school are really crazy but I think they´re learning. At least there´s three of us in the room now so Mayra helps the kids who need extra help while the two of us teach. Teaching english is really fun, we play games that little kids would play but it´s okay because it´s to learn English. Touch your nose! Touch your ear! Etc…

I´m going to start interviews next week, I wrote up and translated a bunch of questions. Exciting.

May 15, 2010

Hello from Leon!

Filed under: Uncategorized — samanthabass @ 10:06 pm

I´m in Leon right now for the weekend. There´s two girls from Denmark that are staying in Miraflor and helping teach English for two weeks, so we all traveled to Leon for the weekend with the girl from London. Leon´s a really neat city, it´s about three hours away and has a lot of students, it´s where all the major Universites are. We´ve been eating ice cream and taking really luxurious showers and hanging out with other foreigners and Nicaraguans. I took pictures of all the grafitti and murals everywhere. We´re staying in a hostel here, going back Monday morning to Miraflor.

I´m living with Marlone and Mayra in Miraflor, my host-parents, Mayra is also the president of the cooperative that I´m doing my project on. And Marlone speaks English, not that I need to speak English anymore…que rico! They have a seven year old son and their 15 year old neice lives with them in the house. One of the girls from Denmark also lives in the house now, and the other girl is across the street at their grandparents house. All the electricity comes from the solar panel on the roof. I eat lots of really fresh food here, really fresh. The other day I attended the pig roast, watched the whole process. It was a huge event with the kids running around crazy (pig as punching bag) and like twenty people standing around and helping out. It tastes really good and is about as fresh as it gets, I have some gruesome pictures that I may or may not share.

I help cook dinner sometimes and am learning some cooking skills. Really good! Rainy season is here and it rains every night, which is really convenient because they don´t have to walk to the well anymore and can use the water from the concrete water storage place in the backyard. It´s sweatshirt weather in Miraflor, which is really hard to believe because it feels like 100 degrees in Leon. All the trees have fuzzy things hanging from them, it´s really beautiful and neon green. In the mornings there´s usually clouds and from the school I can see them partly covering all the mountains. Sort of lord-of-the-rings-esque/enchanted garden/rainforest paradise.

There´s a huge pig that had piglets last saturday and it hangs out around the house sometimes with twenty tiny pink things jumping on top of each other.

In the morning I teach the second graders reading and math with the other volunteers. Marlone is a teacher at the school, but first grade and second grade is in the same classroom and they only have one teacher. Before Catherine came, (girl from London) he would teach one lesson and then assign work and then teach the other lesson. Now we both teach at the same time so the kids have full attention and don´t stand on the desks throwing each other on top of one another. (ninos!) So now, I´m learning my times tables again in spanish. tres por tres es iqual a nueve…etc. The kids yell ´profe´every few seconds for us to check their work. They´re really cute, and the school looks over a mountain range, beautiful.

The school was built by an NGO from Spain, they pay for the materials and lunch for the kids. Usually the government builds schools and provides materials, but they won´t recognize the land because the land is reclaimed from the revolution and the community doesn´t have the land title. During recess they make us play games with them but we usually have no idea what´s going on because their Spanish is really hard to understand and they talk really fast like little kids. So they move us to different places and tell us what to do and run around us in circles. Funny stuff.

We also teach English classes in the afternoons, which are much more tame and sensible. There´s a beginner class and two advanced classes. The man that volunteered in the community last year brought a bunch of English textbooks that are specific for rural tourism, so we use them to make up activities in class.

Also, I walked into my room last thursday and there was a chicken under my bed because I left the door open for a little bit, woops! I´m taking lots of pictures. I´ll write again next weekend.

May 8, 2010


Filed under: Uncategorized — samanthabass @ 9:27 pm

Hi! I´m in an internet cafe in Esteli right now. I left Managua this morning and took a bus to Esteli with my three Italian girlfriends living in Bataola right now (where I was living). We only speak Spanish with each other for lack of common language.

Tomorrow I´m going to Miraflor with my host family to start my research project. All the plants are neon green right now because it rained a couple times. Last time I was here everything was brown and dusty. The rains officially come May 15th, how exciting! I can´t imagine anything being more green but we´ll see.

It was a fun last week, my classes ended on Tuesday. Thursday we had a group outing at Lago Apoyo, I went there during spring break. It´s a really beautiful place with warm volcano water.

We had some of the people we met in Managua over Wednesday night for a ´despedida,´farewell party. We also had ice cream.

Now I´m going to go take a nap didn´t sleep too much last night. Hi Daniel!

April 26, 2010

Pix, music

Filed under: Uncategorized — samanthabass @ 5:43 pm

I have new friends here! We (me, Alyssa, Chris, DJ) met with the university students from Grupo Puente on friday, talked about politics and revolutions, then they took us out all over Managua friday and saturday. Lots of fun.

This is the Top 40 radio station in Managua, all the music I’ve been listening to.

Saturday we had a group outing, which included driving to the top of Volcan Masaya. There’s a lot of smoke coming out of the top. Apparently when the Spanish came to Nicaragua they called the volcano ‘La Boca del Infierno,’ which means the mouth of hell. They thought the volcano was a hole in the earth. The National Guard thew political prisoners into the ‘Mouth of Hell’ during the Somoza dictatorship. Harsh punishment, lasting all of eternity.

Also, Congress is meeting again after the ‘tumultuous’ events of the past few days.

April 23, 2010

Other things

Filed under: Uncategorized — samanthabass @ 8:13 pm

Last saturday I went to a ‘Competencia de Ninos de Trajes de Bano’ (bathing suit competition for kids). My host-sister wanted to compete, she’s six. She was really excited and did her dance for me and practiced posing before we left. The kids competing were ages 2-10. It was cute, and some of the kids could really dance. Boys competed too, mostly break dancing. Beauty pageants are apparently really popular here. It was in the mall.

I also went to a Quinceneara two weekends ago. Chris’s host-sister turned fifteen and invited all of us. All the little girls were dancing and we danced for a little too.

Alyssa and I are doing our final project here on youth activism, we have a meeting this afternoon with Juventud Sandinista (the Sandinista youth) and Groupo Puente, a youth organization more critical of government.

It’s also really hot here now. Probably the hottest weather I’ve ever felt ever. It says 97 but it must be hotter. People are saying it’s because the rains are coming, but not for another month.

Zona Franca, Happy Earth Day! Happy birthday Daniel a little while ago!!

Filed under: Uncategorized — samanthabass @ 7:34 pm

Yesterday for class we went to visit the Zona Franca (Free Trade Zone) near the airport. The manager showed us the promotional video that they use to attract investors. Nicaragua started opening Free Trade Zones after the Contra-War ended and the Sandinistas were voted out of office.

We toured a maquilla (textile-producing factory). The space used to be rented by a Taiwanese company, but they moved to China last year to increase profits. Now the space is rented by WalMart. The manager gave us a tour of all the stages of production, we saw the men and women cutting the jeans pattern out of sheets of jean material (from China), sewing, applying elastic, washing, drying, placing the tag on. Each person has a specific job – so only sewing one part of the jeans, sewing on buttons, etc. They were making women’s capris size 4x that were bright yellow and the tags said $15, hecho en Nicaragua. These ones, but in yellow. I couldn’t take pictures inside for security reasons.

There’s a been a bit of a political quarrel here the past few days, too. Pro-Sandinistas are blockading the National Parliament to stop opposition politicians from overturning a decree that would extend the terms of 25 top magistrates and civil servants. If their terms are extended, it’s likely that Ortega will be able to run for reelection in 2011, which was previously unconstitutional. It’s a little impassioned, Nicaraguans have a history of popular uprising, participation, etc. But don’t worry it’s really far from where I am and contained. There won’t be another revolution anytime soon, probably. I can hear the noises every now and then.

I’m going to Masaya and Granada tomorrow for the day. I’ve also been drawing a lot of ‘gatitoflors’ with my four year old host-brother. That’s part kitten, part flower.

April 7, 2010

Long time no see!

Filed under: Uncategorized — samanthabass @ 3:35 am

There’s so much to do in Nicaragua! I’m really busy here with class and papers and speakers and hanging out with my host family and in the neighborhood. Hence, forgotten blog post. But I have lots of pictures!

I have class Monday to Friday here from 9-12am usually. Sometimes instead of class we have speakers or visit organizations, communities, etc. Tomorrow we’re going to the University of Central America for a class with an economics professor. My two classes are Cultural Conflict and Change in Latin America, which is Gender Studies, and Citizen Participation within a Globalized Economy – A Nicaraguan Case Study, for politics. I really like my teachers and the setup of our classes.

My host-family is the Nicaraguas, there’s ten people living in the house and the two little kids like to run around the house and point at things for me to look at. I’m living right next to the cultural center of Batahola. They have a website!

We had last week off for Semana Santa, all of Latin America has off that week. John came to visit me and we went out with my friends here in Managua one night then went to Lake Apoyo, Granada, Ometepe and San Juan Del Sur. It was really fun, we met a lot of people and traveled with some Canadians for a bit. Lots of Europeans as usual. Lake Apoyo is a really deep crater lake and Granada used to be the capitol of Nicaragua and has well preserved colonial architecture. Ometepe is an island in the middle of lake Nicaragua made up of just two volcanos. One of them is a little active and shoots out ash every now and then. We were fine though. Everybody in Nicaragua travels to San Juan Del Sur for the last weekend of Semana Santa, there were people everywhere, parades and monkeys and lots of festivities. Probably the biggest party in the hemisphere. I went surfing at Playa Madera, near San Juan del Sur, and got really beat up and stood up once. It was really fun.

Now, back to class. Managua has a lot of revolutionary graffiti all over, both for the FSLN (Sandinistas, party of Daniel Ortega, ex-revolutionaries/terrorists) and against him, calling him a dictator. The political situation is really interesting in Nicaragua now because Daniel Ortega is in power again, with some mixed feelings.

The food’s also really good. Nicaragua’s really hot but I don’t feel it anymore.

To be continued!

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