Saturday, December 27, 2008

Feliz Navidad!

The Night Before Navidad

Twas the night before Navidad,

all through the house
all the creatures were stirring,
whether cockroach or mouse.

The stockings were hung
on the whiteboard with care
with the dry-erase fire
warming them there.

The Midnight Misa,
which started at eight
didn’t start ‘til nine thirty
‘cause the Nicas were late.

The children were busy
with bombs in the street
while the neighbors were boiling
frijoles and meat.

The rain coming down,
pounding the zinc,
made the roof much too slipp’ry
for Santa, you’d think.

But here Santa uses
his red moto-sleigh.
(It’s got an 8-reindeer pow’r
turbo engine, they say.)

He filled up the stockings
with chocolates and fruit
and left ‘neath the 12 inch tree
the other loot:

A carving knife, fireworks,
cookies and pears,
a ponytail holder
she actually wears.

But the white paper sprinkles
that covered the floor
reminded of home,
friends and family, and more.

So we want you to know
that you’re all in out hearts.
Merry Christmas to all!

(…and avoid the Wal-Marts)

-Love, Kory and Heather

Monday, December 22, 2008

glad tidings of gallo pinto and banana trees

Well. we invited many people to share Christmas with us, but they had better things to do.. Mm. Sad. BUT, we have decided to eat anyway. Not just eat, but have a delicious meal. I was reading the original Charles Dickens Christmas Carol and it made me want to enjoy all the christmas food I can. So.. we will be making (and eat your hearts out all those volunteers who have cooler places to be.. like the states) Stuffing, cottage cheese loaf, eggnog, mashed potatoes and gravy, corn, homemade bread, and banana creme pie. Dang Gina! I think we will probably be trying to hop around to some peoples houses to see what their Christmas is like. So many people
have invited us to their house, only to be completley shriveled up with dismay when they remember that we dont eat meat. They absolutley cant get around it and feel embarrassed to have us over because they cant offer us food. Its a roughy.

Well, on another note, our mural in the Casa Materna is coming right along. And good thing too because we dont have much else going on right now due to holidays, vacations, coffee cutting season and end of year. So this is good. Its pretty fun especially since we are not trying to direct kids to paint it, and we can just do what we want. More pics to follow after we obtain some different paint colors and continue working.
The casa materna had its ¨Christmas¨Party the other night and it was such a fun example Nicaraguan last minute improvision. I arrived at 11am because they didnt know what time it would start. We started at 5pm. So that was a long day of waiting around. I got kind of dirty hauling rocks to entertain myself and then everyone went and dressed up. So that sucked. The midwives there do not get paid, but through some grants from NGO´s they usually get these ¨baskets¨full of stuff. They were HUGE! They had beans, rice, oil, sugar, salt, coffee, corn, tang etc. Basically all the things they eat every day. SUPER FUN HUH! But, I guess poverty will do that to a person. They are very needed things. We also had a secret friend gift exchange. I got some cute little glass angels. Here we are, all the people that work at the casa, except the little oldest midwife, Doña Berta, who was hiding in the doorway. Notice how tall I am. funny huh.

Well, Merry Freakin Christmas , or Hannuka, or Merry Allholidays, and a Happy New Year full of dishwashers and electricity and hot running water every day, curling irons, punctuality, cars, carpet, couches, cereal, ovens, blenders, insulation, snow, safety, english, movie theatres, pizza, santa claus, no moskito netted beds, no 3 inch cocroaches, family and all of it.

Love kory and heather,... the amazing.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Double Post!

Double post! Don´t forget to see the previous post. We haven´t been able to update for a while, however with the convenience of having a computer in the house we have updated at home. So we just loaded the last two entries. How exciting for you!

Has anyone heard of the “Purisima”? Well, it’s a tradition here of which we are quite fond. It reminds me of caroling. Someone (inconspicuously a catholic) makes a little shrine to the Virgin Mary outside their house, complete with lights and flowers and invites friends and family to come and celebrate. Now when all the people are gathered around after dark, these guys show up with some awesome guitars and play all these Mary songs while the people sing. In between they shout, “¿Quien causa tanta alegría?” “¡La concepción de Maria!” In english… “Who causes so much joy?” “The conception of Mary!” But that isn’t the most exciting part. Besides that I actually like the music and everyone is so jovial, at the end the host passes out all manner of goodies and treats including, but not limited to: little tiny baskets with candies in them, bags of candy, fruits like oranges or bananas, drinks in bags, toy whistles and so much more! It’s cool because we can’t imagine that people who are normally so poor, get so much money to give away. Anyway, here are a few pictures of our first Purisma, which was at our neighbor’s house. We got invited to a second one but didn’t bring our camera. Anyway, it’s pretty exciting. We are still unsure about our Christmas plans. I think we will be here in our site. We invited any other volunteers to come be with us, but we are probably not cool enough to have such luck. So it might be us and our Nicaraguan friends… which isn’t so bad.
¿Quién causa tanta alegría? It´s the statue of María that you can´t see in this photo that sits on a highly decorated table just below the cluster of lights on the window. This house is just down the street from us. Nice folks.It looks like a rock. It´s not. It is some kind of homemade candy. We have a similar stuff in the United States. We call it sheetrock and we build houses with it. We saved the baskets to use for Easter.

I was trying to upload a video clip of the purisima but we are still making our videos too big. Next time. It even showed a firework in the background, the smoldering remains of which land a mere 2 inches from Heather´s head.

In other news, we have a friend who just moved out of his house so he can rent it out. He told us last night, during our discussion group/movie night, that the guy who is renting it is from Matagalpa and is going to open a Ciber in it. This means we will have affordable internet access in our site and won´t have to wait until we go to Matagalpa to use it! Woo Hoo!


Well, some bad news for those of you (undoubtedly many) who thought that for sure we were going to visit home for the wedding and for Thanksgiving and return here to discover that life is just better back home and it isn’t worth the trouble of being away from friends and family to work unpaid in a third world country without root beer: we’re staying. At least for now.

Here are some of the projects we are currently working on:

Mural in the Casa Materna
This project is not actually a Peace Corps project, primarily because of the lack of involvement from host country nationals. That is, there aren’t any Nicaraguans helping us or learning anything from it. It is mostly to maintain our frail sanity here. Actually, the director of the Casa Materna has been a great help with this project as far as finding money to pay for paint and materials etc., which is good since it was her idea. We (Heather and I) are going to paint a huge wall in the Casa Materna that will illustrate the journey from working woman in the campo, to pregnant woman in the casa maternal (omitting the naughty bits of course). This is the sketch that I prepared for the proposal when we were asking for money. Everything is clear and we should be beginning the actual painting soon.
Here is the wall which we are painting with the grid painted on it.
Here is the drawing on the wall that I just painted on yesterday. Yes, it´s huge. And yes, they will have faces.
Art Club
We still have our art club that we formed many months ago, but we are kind of changing the format. The kids in the art school are feeling like they are lacking actual instruction from the teacher there. Not to mention the fact that half of the time he doesn’t show up because he is involved with his real job. Recognizing this tragic circumstance, and having discussed it with the group, we have decided to make the art club more of an art class. We are, however, keeping it a very informal club atmosphere. We will be working with them on various techniques and presentation. We will also be helping them to organize exhibitions and maybe procure a cooperative gallery space to display, promote, and maybe sell their works.

Voz de Salud La Dalia
We aren’t just here for art projects, just so you know. We are also doing a bunch of health stuff. Our radio group is working out great. Better than expected. For example, we work with them every Friday. One Friday we plan the program and the next Friday we have the show. It works out great. However, as you know, we were recently occupied for two Fridays in a row! Our little chavalos followed through with the program we had planned with them before we left. What’s more, we showed up last Friday expecting to find out that they had nothing planned for the show. They did have a show planned and were able to pull it off with hardly any help from us. What this means is that it is a hint toward sustainability. They work without us! We are so excited.

We are working on organizing a massive HIV workshop with over 500 men in a local army base. The workshop will be organized to include MINSA (the Ministry of Health), because it is easier to obtain free condoms to give away if the Ministry thinks it was their idea. Actually, it is because the plan is to train the Health personnel at the health center as well as the health staff of the army base to give these HIV trainings in the future as this is a very “at-risk” group, (even without “don’t ask, don’t tell). We hope to be able to do a training with the army health staff on a national level so that they have a system in place so that other volunteers that have an army base near will be able to plug into the system more easily and teach these men how to avoid this nasty virus.

Sex in School
Well, we are enjoying the break in between school years, but the new school year will be starting in January and we have some things we want to change about the way we taught in the schools this year. For one thing, we are thinking that rather than teach only one grade, and only a couple of classes, as we did this year, now that we have all of the materials prepared, we would like to try to teach our sexual health series to every class of every grade in the two high schools in the municipality. Can it be done? Yes. Can anybody survive that many high school students giggling and cracking jokes about testicles? Not without a trip to Costa Rica first. (Done).

Friday we are giving a training in the health center about pre- and post-counseling for the HIV test since the medical staff are super cold and don’t talk to people very well. Heather’s work is almost finished at the rehabilitation center and she is not sure whether she will be continuing her work there, as it is not sustainable without her, though I have been kicking around the idea of having an art class out there. (It’s very therapeutic, I just don’t want to finish two years of health service with nothing to speak of but murals and art clubs.) We are still plugging away at the national casa maternal project and have a variety of other small things going on to keep us pleasantly distracted in between visitors.

On the domestic end of things, we went to the local carpenter on Saturday to have him help us construct a little project according to my plans. He he he. I will be sharing more on this later, when it is finished, tested, and has a product to show. Cooking is still an everpresent part of our lives here and we love it. Also, small bamboo projects abound.

Christmas-related celebrations are commencing, but I think you will have to wait for the “The Amazing Adventures of Heather and Kory Christmas Special” for that!

Thursday, December 4, 2008

December is here.. and yes they are playing christmas music..

Well, here we are back in Nicaragua. I know I already said that, but we are back in action as it were and as expected we feel very refreshed and ready to work. We are not so annoyed by all the things that were driving us crazy which are too numerous to mention. Kory is enjoying having a harmonica and practicing every day as well as his whistle of course. We are FULLY enjoying having our computer and so I am able to type this at my leisure instead of in a super hot internet café racking up costs by the minute.

We are excited to celebrate Christmas here in Nicaragua and curious as to what that actually means. We have heard that the 24th is a huge party and there is lots of drinking and then everyone is passed out on the 25th. Hmmmm? I hope there is more than that. If not we will have to find something special to do. We are thinking of staying with our host families but we will have to see. We put up our decorations, which were left here by the former volunteers. It consists, as you can see of two miniature trees (one is the bedroom and lights up), two stockings, some tinsel and one string of lights, which are lovingly hung on the mosquito net above our bed. We hope they don’t catch on fire.

We had our meeting in Matagalpa today, but since I’m writing this yesterday, I cannot say how it went. It was for our project called “Charlitas Listas”, which translates to ready made discussions. This is the project we are trying to do for all of Nicaragua and consists of making readymade charlas for all the casas maternas in the country. Right now they either are not being done, or are using various materials which aren’t terrible but they are not complete or the peace corps volunteer is making them with large sheets of paper which become very ugly after a certain amount of time. We meet with a group of doctors and leaders in healthcare to design them and now that we have the computer we will be getting to work designing them. We are quite excited to make this happen. Anyway, that’s that.

I wanted to mention the “Molino” or mill in English. I have had some wheat berries that I found at the market in Matagalpa, in the fridge for quite some time. Today I took them to the Molino, which we haven’t used for some time because we had purchased our own grinder. However, it doesn’t grind very finely so I thought I would give this wheat a try. But another aversion we have had to the Molino is that the one near our house is very dirty. Let me explain; a Molino is a big grinder that people put in their house and neighbors bring their corn, or curdled milk or coco beans etc to be ground every day. So there are many molinos in ones neighborhood but ours was quite stomach churning. It was very dirty and it was also someone’s bedroom, complete with mice and all sorts of whathaveyou. So I found another Molino near and today I tried it out. I took the wheat and some peanuts and my neighbor boy Brian. They always think the things I bring the Molino are strange because they are not corn, but its fun anyway. They “clean” the machine out with a preliminary cup or so of water and then they pour your stuff in and you are their waiting at the end and scooping it into your bucket if its wet, or banging the thing if its dry. Anyway. I like this new Molino, they only had chickens in there and they were watching Shakira so it was super fun. Anyway I feel pretty “Mother Hen” for having ground my own wheat and maybe I will make some bread soon. Well. That is all for the week! Chow!

Friday, November 28, 2008


Home.. Do I mean Utah or Nicaragua? Im not really sure myself. All I know is that we were there and now we are here. Safely back in Nicaragua after visiting home for a gluttonous week of nothing but food and family. We are fat.. well, some of us are, and here that is a complement. Anyway! We wanted to say a special thank you to all of those who helped us out, lent us a car, came to visit us or stayed up late with us. We are VERY sorry that we didnt get to Gramercy... so sad, but we were pretty packed. Dont think we dont love you gramercy peops.. we do!

Sorry that this is the only photo. there were many many many mishaps with discs and computers. We are not acustomed to all this equiptment and technology, so we had a frustrating week that way, but are glad to have had access.

Well, we will hopefully be starting two murals this week, making progress on our national HIV/ training at the army bases, progress on our national casa materna charla project which heather has temporarily named "Charlitas Listas" (ready made discussions), and starting a community bank with a group of women in a rural community. A community bank is when the people get together and save money every month for a series of 6 or 12 months, and they borrow the money and pay it back with interest, and then they all divide the interest at the end of the period. They learn about saving, about the strength of community and gain access to funds that they would otherwise never have access too. We are just learning about it ourselves and have to teach it! Yikes! Well. Thats the lowdown. We would like to

Sunday, November 23, 2008

home sweet home, from heather

Hello all, I would first like to apologize for not having pictures, our card reader was ripped out of the computer and ruined. We were foiled by our own efforts not to forget the reader and leave it at an internet cafe. BUT, luckily we are here on american soil. Utah. Frost, brown, family. SUV's, cars, wide paved street. No potholes. Mormans. Weddings. Family again. Food. Thanksgiving. Good smells, good hot chocolate. Moms. Sisters. Pedicures. Nieces and nephews. English. Friends. And its like we never left. Like that little cement house somewhere in central america where kids are constantly peering in our window and giant cucarachas navigate the dark, is all a dream. We feel quite disconected from it all. Its as strange as we imaged it to be, but perhaps we will be renewed and ready to work "nuevamente". Holy cow i cant spell in spanish here. Wierd. Well. I will add more pictures later. love heather

Sunday, November 16, 2008

wembly out, family in

Well. A lot has happened in the last couple of weeks. Heathers friends and family have all chipped in to buy her a ticket to come home with kory for karols wedding and thanksgiving. You are all so incredible! Thanks for this gift. As for the darling wembly, he had to find a new home, and fast. In one day heather called all the volunteers near us and found it a home. Luckily because of the elections and violence in Managua (I say luckily tongue in cheek because there were two deaths) we couldnt travel for a while and therefore wemblito got to live with us for 3 weeks. He was absolutly adorable and we loved him to death. He lived on heathers shoulder when he was not trying to get warm behind the fridge. If he wanted up on our shoulders, he would cry and cry and cry like a baby and then mount us like a rock climbing wall. He cried so much that he had wrinkles under his eyes. UGGGGGGHHH how sad! Can you believe heather gave a kitten away!

Well. Having said that, we are daaaaaannnnngggg excited to have a break from nicaragua(ns), and have some comida rica, homestyle. Food, Kai, other neices and nephews, family and friends... here we come. (ps, kory wants me to identify myself.. heather as typing this blog)

Sunday, November 2, 2008

Los Gringos del Gato

That´s how it goes Matt. Notice it is singular. Gato.

Well, here he is. Of course it didn´t take long for Heather to meet, fall in love with, purchase, and at last pledge her undying love for, a cat. We found an orange one for her, which she has always wanted. I guess the orange fellas get lost and starving and wander to Heather´s doorstep in Woodruff often enough for her to have had one by now. Allow me, if you will, to introduce Wembly. Yes, like the fraggle. Doesn´t he look like a fraggle? When he is in trouble, which you can imagine is almost always, his name is Wemblton. When he is cute, which I´ll admit is also almost always, he is Wembles or Wemblito. He is the most codependent animal I have ever met. He is so needy and cuddly. It is quite cold here right now as we are in the middle of winter, and when we got the cat he was so malnurished that he has really thin hair and is tiny. He is about 4 months old! Tiny.
We will see how he holds up. Or how we hold up.
I will probably be doing most of the blogs from now on because with Heather´s church calling she usually has meetings after church and we still don´t really come into town on other days. I will try to be fair and express her honest thoughts along with mine.

Today is el Día de los Muertos, or the Day of the Dead. This is a heavily celebrated holiday in most of Central America. It is kind of the Central American Halloween counterpart, except there are no cute kitty cat costumes and princesses. In Mexico people dress up as skeletons and parade around, for example. For those of you who know what Halloween is to Heather and me (Which reminds me, we will have no more talk of Halloween candy on this blog. Thanks. Just kidding, we love to hear about all of the yummy things that are available there) you can probably guess that this holiday is one of those events in which we have always wanted to participate. However, much to our chagrin, Día de los Muertos here is a lot like Memorial Day. People visit the cemetary with flowers. That´s basically it. What a drag. Happy Day of the Dead

As I said last time, we have been having some adventures around the house, partly because of the rain, and partly because it is about this time in our service that it is normal for us to be completely disenchanted and utterly frustrated with our work and Nicaraguans in general. This makes for a lot of time in the house and what we call "secondary projects." Here are some of them:

Flat Stanely.
We recieved a letter from my nephew Braxton a few weeks ago. In the letter was a paper cutout of a person colored with crayons. His letter explained that in school he was learning about the world through Flat Stanely. He sent us Stanely to photograph in various Nicaraguan activities and send them back with the cartoon. Here are some of them:
Stanely and the neighborhood kids
Stanley and a neighborhood chancho (pig).
Stanley and a view from the calle.
Stanley and "deme una foto" Anger in the market.

The cabana.
Remember the Indian queen pagent that I got to judge? Well, we went to the school a couple of days after the event. They had also built little huts from which to sell traditional foods. We used the oportunity to carry several tens of pounds of bamboo back to our house. It nearly killed us. We used it first to build a lovely cabana off the back of the house on the patio. We have yet to acquire any palm leaves for the roof, but it is in the works. Here is a picture of "Flat Stanely" helping out.

The tools.
Bamboo is a very useful plant. We have also taken some of the smaller pieces and carved some candle holders (vital since we only have power for a few hours a day right now, and rarely at night), chop sticks, wooden mixing and cooking spoons, tortilla flippers, and marshmallow roasters (we are going to make smoors tomorrow on the wood stove with marshmallows and these lousy cookies that have some chocolate frosting on one side, yikes).
Heather has the memory card with all of the photos on it so I am hoping that she gets done with her meeting and gets here with it soon.

We may not be able to check the internet for a little while because next weekend we are being put on "stand fast." This is the pre-level one security stage which means we can´t leave our site in case they need to consolodate us. This is because the Mayorial elections here will be taking place on the 9th. The Sandinistas have a tendency to get a little rowdy if they don´t win, or in the process of making sure they win, or when they win,...whenever. This shouldn´t be a problem for us because La Dalia is predominantly Sandinista. Which means for the few Liberals there it is sort of like being a Democrat in Utah. Not gonna happen. (In case anybody has not heard anything about Nicaragua since the 80´s, the Sandinistas are just a political party which happens to be in power. They are no longer a rebel force fighting the army and killing gringos.)

Our site-mate Sarah, the environment volunteer, is going home this week as she has completed her service. Here is a picture of Sarah, Wembly, Heather and me celebrating Halloween with some carmel popcorn and glow in the dark vampire teeth! Bye Sarah.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Hi everybody. Kory again.



We have been in this country for over 9 months now. Almost 10. Sometimes during our time here, we want for Nicaragua to be something else. Someplace else. That is, we want it to be colorful, like Guatemala. But what makes Guatemala colorful are the Maya. The Native people here, Mesquito, live primarily in the two autonomous regions on the atlantic coast, which make up for about half of the land mass of Nicaragua and are restricted areas for Peace Corps volunteers for dangerous drug trafficking and violence. The colors here are hidden, secret colors that are hard to find through the green. Sometimes we want it to be spicier, like Mexico. But it isn´t. The Nicaraguan tongue is more sensitive and their flavors simple to our North American salt, sugar, and MSG overloaded tongues, but decidedly "rico" to theirs. Sometimes we want a strong music culture, like Chile or other South American countries. But we just have to accept marriage of the Regaeton and evangelical preaching-screaming-speaking in tongues at superhuman levels and all hours of the morning, day, and night as a music culture. Sometimes there is no Spanish and English, just communication. Sometimes we are in the Nicaragua that is that strange place away from home and family and things familiar. And sometimes it just is. We just are here and it is what it is.

Money Talks

I thought I would mention a little bit about the money situation here for a Peace Corps volunteer. The currency is the córdoba. There are almost 20 córdobas in a U.S. dollar (19.5). The Nicas usually just call them "pesos", even though they are not. Gringos usually call them "cords." The symbol looks like this ... C$ (or a "c" with a dollar sign within it). We are each paid C$3,600 each month, or about $180. Before you all go running to Western Union to wire us money, let me explain some things. First of all, as we walked to church today we complained about the price we had paid for the bananas we were eating. They were two for a córdoba while in La Dalia they are four for a córdoba. In other words, the bananas at the high price were about 2.5 cents a piece, where they are usually 1.25 cents a piece. Fresh pineapple is on the rise. Now one can expect to pay as much as 10 pesos, or about 50 cents. You see where I´m going with this? An expensive mango might cost C$7 (35 cents) but it is about the size of a cantelope. Rice is now a whopping 10 cords a pound (50 cents) while beans are 9.5 to 12 pesos a pound. We buy tortillas from the neighbor for 5 reales. This means 50 cents in córdobas, or half a córdoba (2.5 cents). The 2 hour bus ride to Matagalpa that we take at least once a week, sometimes more, costs 30 pesos each person, each way ($6 round trip for two). In otherwords, we don´t make Jack here. But we don´t need much either. The rub comes from a $40 pricetage on a bag of cheap hershey bars.

El Gatito

I have conceded to let Heather get a kitten, provided that it is super cute. For those of you who know me and my feelings about pets, I´ll explain. This does not mean that Heather wears the pants in the family. On the contrary, we share the pants (which we may be able to litterally do since I am only a little taller than her and I have lost 30lbs. here on a diet that lacks Doritios and pizza ... mmmmm ... Doritos and pizza...) and if she were wearing the pants we would have had a cat long ago. It´s like this. This is probably the only time that having a cat might actually work out for us. I never liked having a cat around because it leaves hairs in my paints. This is intollerable. Here, however, we live in a cement hut and can hose it out to clean it, and I am not doing much painting really. Also, the pigeons´feathers are a constant bother, raining through the gaps between the wall and ceiling. Furthermore, we have a mouse problem. They love the poison we leave out for them and everything else they can get their filthy little paws on. All of this being said, what it really comes down to is that Heather has a lot of love to give. In the abscence of family and friends I have held a comfortable monopoly on that love for over nine months now, and frankly, I just can´t take it anymore. Her motherly instincts are kicking in and we can´t have a child until we come home. Incidentally, my wife´s happiness means more to me than a lousy pair of proverbial family pants anyway.

The Conductor

The bus driver this morning had only one hand. His other arm terminated in a nub with four little finger starts, his body´s aborted attempt to form a hand. Although it was obvious that it was a developmental problem and not an accident, it reminded me of the woman in April. In April I was translating for a skin doctor who was here with a U.S. airforce medical brigade. A woman came in from the campo for a skin condition. I think it was scabies. She was missing one hand and the other was horribly disfigured. The doctor asked me to ask her if she was born that way or if she had an accident. "La doctora quiere saber si naciste con los manos así o si tuviste un accidente," I asked, trying to be a little warmer than the sub-zero doctors the people here are used to dealing with. "Me machetiaron" she replied. "They machettied me." "They" could be field workers, or her parents, anybody. Judging from her age, it was probably the police or army, or sandinista rebells in the 80´s. The bus driver handled the curves and holes and mud and bridges expertly with his one hand.

The Funny Thing About Gringos

Gringos are a currious creature. They do things that are very unusual. As we all know, it can be very difficult, if not completely awkward, to get a close enough look into a gringo house to properly judge their excentricities and see what can be borrowed. Fortunatley, with this handy guide, you too can experience a gringo house. Gringos don´t seem to open their doors readily to Nicaraguans and therefor it is difficult to ask them for stuff, because as everybody knows, they are here to give stuff away. You can save time and embarassment using the simple manipulative tools in this book. For example, just yesterday, a local woman was able to negociate this tricky endevour by using the following method: 1) Being pregnant. 2) First stating to the husband gringo that she wanted to talk to the wife gringo. 3) When he tried to keep her out by stating that the wife gringo was on the phone and would be out shortly, and asked what she wanted, she simply told him that she just wanted to come in, which threw him off. 4) When the wife gringo came outside, she used her status as pregnant woman to cover some ground. She asked if she could "prestar" or bollow, the latrine. 5) Falling for the pregnancy scam the gringo wife allowed her into her house with her small child. The mysteries of gringo living revealed themselves as she passed to use the toilet. After (pretending) to use the toilet she was able to stay in the house for some time visiting and rubbernecking at all of the oddities before having to leave. You too can experience the wonder!

To Market, to Market

The women in this country, as well as many women from many other under developed countries around the world, have, for lifetimes, carried their wares to market on their heads. These wares have been anything from vegetables, carved wooden crafts, bread, "cosas del orno" or things of the oven (any of various baked things), children, and pig´s heads. This morning, on our way to the bus we passed a woman walking to market. On her head was a wooden rack, about 1 1/2 by 2 meters in size, full of pirated DVD´s. Hey, wares are wares.

Creencias Falsas

The other night we recieved a visit from a neighbor girl. She had come to seek advice about a pregnancy scare. She was late to recieve her one month "anticonceptivo" or contraceptive injection and the Health center would not give her a test to see if she was pregnant right away, nor would they give her the shot, in case she was. She was scared. Her mother threatened to kill her if she was pregnant, as moms will, and her boyfriend lives in a comunity that is an hour bus ride away, in El Tuma. That is not all. Aparently the doctor had filled her head with all kinds of nonsense and myths. Considering that not more than two months ago, a fifteen-year-old who got pregnant went home and tried to abort the baby (abortion is very illegal here, regardless of whether or not the mother´s life is in danger). She drank several cups of household cleaners and died. We were glad that this neighbor girl was wise enough to come over and talk to us to clarify some of the things that her doctor had told her. She turned 15 last week.

Anger ...(not anger, pronounced "ain ´chair")

"Deme una foto!" we heard from a tiny voice a short way behind us. Give me a photo. "Gringos, deme una foto!" The tiny person was waving. "We don´t have a photo."
After this greating on this particular road for the first three months of our service, we decided to learn the kid´s name and teach him ours. His name is Anger (see above). He is about five and a tiny little guy. Now that he knows our names we cannot pass his mother´s stand in the market without a greating that somehow carries across the open intersection of all the roads. We recently took a photo of him (with Flat Stanely,...more on that later). He was very proud to have a photo taken and as soon as we can find somewhere to print it, we will in fact "dele una foto."

Well, I hope you have enjoyed these little vignettes. More photos to come, including: The Nicaraguan Adventures of Flat Stanley; The bamboo cabana on the patio; Sweet and sour sauce; Bamboo carved cooking utinciles and other fun things!

I hope all is well!

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Hi. This is Kory today. I would first like to say that Heather appologizes for including political commentary on this our friendly blog. We have no intentions of turning this blog into a political forum. I would also like to say that, as intelligent rational human beings, we recognize that being Muslim and being a terrorist have nothing to do with one another. Thank you for understanding. Feel free, however, to comment on any other aspect of your lives. P.S.-we are registered to vote absentee, though it wont caount unless it is very very close.

As for Peace Corps work, we have much to report on for this week. First of all, I gave my highschool students their test on the sexual health series that I have been teaching them (Heather administered hers last week) and my 71 students (roughly twice that size of Heather´s classes) blew her´s out of the water with their scores. I admit that this was largely due to the fact that as my series was a week behind her´s, since we were using the same materials, I had the advantage of correcting and adjusting to our original mistakes. I also did an intensive soccer based review the week before the test. Anyway, we are done with that part for now, but when the new year begins in January, we plan to teach the series again to many more students. (In her defense, Heather and I are returning to her school to do the soccer-based review to make sure that these kids get something out of it.

We harvested some sugarcane from our back yard this week as well. We went back and chopped it down with our machette and then skinned it. (The skinned end in the photo is in my mouth, the part in the foreground is not skinned.) Then you just chew on it. It is so wet and juicy. It just pours sugarwater down your face. Mmm. The next morning I made crepes with pineapple and sugarcane syrup for breakfast.

We had our first radio program with our kiddos. They were so nervous, but they did awesome. It was the first time I have seen any Nicaraguan be on time to anything. And this is a youth group! Since today is the national mental health day, the program was about depression. They were a little short on information but it was their first time. We hardly had to help them at all! It was a great success for us. We´ll see if they can prove successfull under the test of time. Unfortunately, we forgot the camera so there will be no pictures of the radio work until the next show, on the 24th.

We went to a festival at the Highschool for el Día de la Resistencia wherein everybody celebrates the time when the Spanish arrived here and the indiginous peoples said "Hell No!" (basically). There is more to it than that, but that´s all you need to know. So they have a sort of pagent to elect a reina indigina or Indian Queen! The students, one from each class, dress up in costumes they make from natural things, such as coconut bikinis and corn grass skirts, and they have to answer questions and do pagent things. Well, being the esteemed sexual health teacher that I am, I was asked to be one of the prestigous invited judges. I got to judge the Indian Queen pagent! The big bored looking man next to me is the vice mayor of La Dalia. I guess it wasn´t as novel for him.

Here are the "queens" lined up. Some of them have escorts as well. Indian-lookin duders.

This is a picture of our friend Luis, who teaches English at the school, with his "queen." They also build indiginous huts out of natural things, one of which you can see in the background, from which they sell foods and drinks to each other. The eats are also judged. (notice the dog is wearing a coffee bean collar).

Monday, October 6, 2008

What we do besides cook and invent things.....

I thought I would write a little bit about what we do and what projects we are working on just in case you have all been thinking that all we do is cook and invent things and be scared of bugs. Kory and I are in the process of dividing all of our projects. We both have so many ideas and we end up working a lot together which makes autonomy difficult. This is a picture if the division, but it will serve as a way to talk shortly about the projects. I will not specify who will be or is working on each one, only describe it because there are so many. The beauty of this job is that we are left to our own devices. Some suffer in this type of work environment. We love it because we can do things our own way and those of you who know us, know we like our way.

Adolescent Clinic

We are trying to get a space and funding for an adolescent clinic in our health center. This would be a place with a special staff specially trained to deal with youth on issues of sexual and reproductive health. The concern is that sooooooo many kids are sexually active and are getting pregnant because no one has the guts to talk to them about sex. THis would be a safe place they could come to get non judgemental help.

Posters for the Casa Materna

We are working on a national project here, being tired of making charlas with papelografo, only to have them destroyed. We will be developing 10 charlas pertinent to pregnant women and designing them into a vinyl poster that is waterproof, fadeproof and can be roled up and taken to fairs and the country to promote the topics. Each of the 68 casas maternas in the country will have one of each of the 10 topics to hang in thier building and do charlas from. THis will cost upwards of $20,000 so we will be looking to NGO´s for funding.We have already got the support of the casa materna at a national level.
HIV Training at the Army Base
There is an army base near our town with almost 500 men. We are trying to arrange a mass HIV training for them. (Our cuota for training men about HIV is 50 each.... so this would be pretty cool.)
Voz de Salud (Voice of Health)
This is our radio group that we have started. We will be having a bi-weekly radio group with a bunch of kids that we have trained or will train. The kids will be performing the radio show on topics related to health, sexuality and the environment.
Youth Survey
There are about 6 NGO´s working in our town with youth and youth promotores. Not one of them has done a needs assessment or survey of the issues youth face in our municipality. We will be doing a survey of all 3000 youth in the highschools if we can find a computer program capable of analyzing the data better than excell. (Hint if you know any or could send us a copy,... we would reaaaaallly appreciate it). We will also need funding for the copies of the survey.
There are a ton of other ones, that maybe I can elaborate on later, like our youth artist group that is doing murals all over and we are starting another one, the mural kory and I will be doing in the casa materna when the rains stop, the trainings at the health center on HIV counselling, building latrines and doing higene trainings for staff and patients at th health center where currently the patients squat behind the buildings or hold it. .. and no one washes thier hands. Sooooo many... But i know its boring with so little pictures. More pics next time. Enjoy, and dont miss the last entry I did today either. Love heather and kory

Voting time

I wanted to put in a plug for the elections coming up. I want to say that it is IMPERITIVE that americans REALLY know who they are voting for. This is not a time to go on what people tell you or other peoples thoughts. Please take the time to KNOW THE ISSUES. After all, we are not voting for a religion or a race, or an age, we are voting on the issues.. at least I hope we are. I have taken the time to research the issues that can be found on the following links. If I can do this in a foreign, developing country with mediocre access to electricity, then you all who have internet in your homes can too.

PS, Kory and I have decided that if Barak wins the election I will be coming home for thanksgiving as well, if McCain wins... I may not come back ever. I think I will stick it out with Daniel. .. Not to sway your vote or anything.

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Frolicking Sandanistas and Marching Band Wonders

Well, the last two weeks have been full of all kinds of sandanista fun. The mayoral elections are underway so the parties are getting together for parades and such.. well, so far we have only seen the sandanistas. They fill up al kinds o fcars with people and drive around. Nothing more organized. In matagalpa they got poured on. While I was in managua, two kids got hit about five feet from our front door by a driver that drove off. The boys both had head injuries and were picked up and ran to the health center where they were wrapped up and sent home without any long term observation.. or even short term. It was really sad. Im not relating this to the sandanistas, only that people are driving around quite crazy.

We have never been so sick of marching bands, and really with reason. Ive never seen so many in my live put together. They LOVE them here! In out little town they only know one song or beat. There is actually one marching about 50 feet from me as I type here in matagalpa and its far more creative and they have several songs.

I thought I would throw in a few pics of our church and a Relief Society activity we did. Here is the gymnasium. The building is incredibly beautiful by nicaraguan standards. But some things are wacky. Like last sundy just as the president got up to conduct the meeting a ceiling tile covering the lights fell unexepectadly and landed on brother Guillermo. Sad.

We were asked to sew some baptismal clothing. We had no pattern, which isnt strange here. They dont sell them, people just make them up. So the lady on the right came and just cut this dress out and the rest were learning how to do it. So thats how you learn to sew. Done. Taught. My job is done. I will come home. Just kidding
I wanted to tell Anna HAPPY BIRTHDAY!!!! Adriana got a 2 bunny rabbits which live in her house, she says happy birthday too! I love you soo much! Aunt becky sent me a video of your campout at her house that i will watch soon. I love you all!

Sunday, September 14, 2008

In Service Training Week

Well, we were in training in Estelí for the week with our Nicaraguan colegues receiving training on Community Banks, which if we do one I will explain more, but basically its getting a group of people together and pooling their money every month in a lockbox and lending it out to members and gaining interest and then at the end of the specified term, everybody gets their money back plus interest and get to learn about saving money and also having money available to borrow IN their community for little things. It sounds very interesting. Also we talked about doing pre and post interviews for AIDS tests. We are going to train out health center staff to do this.We also had the chance to hang out with some friends up in Madriz. This is their ¨easy bake oven¨which, yes, they really use. We made bread and pasta and awsome tacos. Matt made us pancakes with red bean paste, sour creme and honey. I know it sounds attrocious, but it was really good. This is their dog Astro which they got shortley after arriving in the site. The little black specs in the bowel are ticks that they just picked off him. THEY DO THIS EVERY NIGHT! Troupers I tell you. But this is why we do not have a pet!
We also saw our first turantula (Balls, I cant spell that). Anyway. FULL ON, this guy was just crawling around in their back yard that night! He wasnt huge, but he was about an inch and a half! I was going to catch him, but could not find a sufficient recipient and he got away.
We made a bon fire in their back yard and roasted smores! The marshmallos were flavored, but thats ok. They were good! We had a good time!

Today is a holiday here and so tomarrow we have off. We have nicaraguan guests coming and so I have to think of what to cook them! I promised something from soya. BUT MAN! Nicaraguans are some picky people! They think that the weirdest things make them sick. So its a challenge. Well. Also, kory bought his plane ticket. He says thanks to all that helped him, it was very helpful (redundancy.. I know) Well. Over and out.

Sunday, September 7, 2008


Hi. This is Kory. I am trying to book a flight from Managua to Salt Lake City leaving the 20th of November and returning the 28th. The problem is, the internet is slow and unreliable, making price comparison nearly impossible. If anyone can help with a little high-speed research, I would greatly appreciate it! I am going to try again to book my flight next weekend (Sept 13th). Please send any useful information to my functioning e-mail address at kory.fluckiger@gmail. Thanks.

Saturday, September 6, 2008

cooking and artwork

well, what to say about this week other than cooking. We had a radio training finally for our youth group so they could start working on the radio. We will have one more. They were quite shy. I wonder if kids in the states are as shy as they are here. I dont thinks so.

Well, lets start with this delicious garden bread. It is sooo delicious. It tastes like those vegetable crackers! Heres the recipe (the american version) Also, these are oranges (they are always green here and quite bitter so you mix them with lots of water and sugar like you make lemon juice. Its good!)

Whole Wheat Garden Bread
3 cups whole wheat flour
3 cups white flour
1/4 cup honey
1/4 cup oil
2 cups water? I think...
1Tablespoon yeast
1 Tablespoon salt
1 cup grated carrots
1 small bell pepper or (jalapiño if you want)
1 Tblspn cumin seeds
3 cloves of garlic
1 smaill onion chopped

mix half the flour together with yeast and water. Mix for one minute. Add oil, salt, honey, and all the veggies and cumin. Then add the rest of the flour a little at a time. Kneed for 15 mins! (Yes really 15 mins) Adding more flour if needed so it isnt a sticky mess. Make a loaf and put in a preheated 150 degree oven for 20 mins or until doubled, then turn the tempurature to 350 and bake until golden brown and delicious. Enjoy!

The next thing is called Gizo here. Its basically a chunky vegetable sauce with creme in it and served with rice. The cool thing about this specific dish is that it was the first time we used the new supertree Marango. I will send more facts about marango at a later time, but it is a tree I planted in my garden that is extremly useful and healthy. I forgot the nutricional facts today. We used the leaves in this dish. It was good.

Kory tryed grinding his cocoa beans with a little coconut for added moisture and oil. It was quite liquid. He is also experiementing with the roasting technique. It was really messy but it tasted pretty good. We had another encounter with Gillermo, the fat chocolate man. We ADORE visiting him. We took him some of the delectable chocolate that you all have sent us and shared it with him. He recited a poem for us.

These two pieces of artwork were part of an assignement that we gave our little art club, to make something of garbage. The can one is kory, and the suckky one is mine.

This week instead of mopping, I moved the table and hosed down our whole house. then swept it out the door! It was super fun. Next time im going to tie soap to my shoes and skate around or make a slip n slide . I will miss cement houses a little when I come home.

Saturday, August 30, 2008

dead things

This week we spend a lot of time looking for a REALLY stinky dead mouse in our house, and it turned out to be a dead baby pigeon on the roof, so I had to get on the shoddy tin roof with barely any two by fours beneath it and scoop it off into the ditch. It was sssuuuuper gross with maggots and everything. I felt kind of bad for the brother that had to think the whole new world it lived in stunk like ..... dead brother! Sad.

I would like to take a moment to talk about lizards. There are lizards all over here in our house. Those of you who know me, know that this is ALWAYS very exciting for me, even after seeing like thirty a day. They are very cute, even when they watch you in the bathroom! I thought that the little tirds that were EVERYWHERE in the house were only from mice, until I got pooed on one day sitting under the eves at the Casa Materna. I looked up to see one LIFTING ITS TAIL!! I mean, have you ever seen a lizard lift its freakin tail. I have to admit that even that was cute. There is some disagreement about what they are called. Some people call them Escorpios, not to be confused with the english word scorpion, and some people call them, perozampopos. I call them escorpios because that seems to be the most agreed on name, and its easier to say. Anyway, we had this special guy, one different than any we had EVER seen. Here is a picture of him. As you can see, he was not just grey, but black and white and with the craziest frog like back legs you have ever seen! He showed up occasionally in our house. He came yesterday and I was very excited to see him again. We named him the dragon because of the way he hopped. I took this picture and then not an hour later, we accidentally killed him. We shut him in the window when we closed it and ..... that was the saddest thing almost, that I have ever seen. SO, this is a tribute to the dragon lizard that lived in our home sometimes. We really admired your legs.

We have done quite a bit of cooking as usual, we made real pesto with our basil and some pinenuts that someone brought our sitemate. I assure you it was exquisite. Also I made some bbq from my home processed soya which was really good. Its hard to see that that is what this is, but ... its bbq!

Also this is a painting I finished a few weeks ago. Its my first in a really long time. I know it isnt a kory fluckiger orginal, but its cute. (Wow I say cute a lot.)

If any of you are wondering.. hmm, what can I send those crazy kids? Well, you can send us used young reader books in spanish. (The kind that are stories, like harry potter, but we already have harry potter number one and moby dick.) We plan to read them to better our spanish, and leave them at the library here. There are almost no books in Nicaragua. They are really expensive here. Sooooo. thats all. We love you all!