Saturday, January 26, 2008

Weekend Excitement

Karol wins the prize! We got our first real paper letter from her! It was super fun to get it. Just for future reference. If you send us anything besides a letter it is best to put it in a manilla envelope (with bubble pack inside) and write our name as brother or sister heather/kory and draw crosses on it and stickers of Jesus or Mary. This helps to ensure we get the package. Karols letter made it in like 12 days FYI.

Well Kory and I both well. No diarrhea. The only thing is kory gets a little nausea from the chloroquin (malaria meds). Our families really are great. This weekend kory is sitting here with me in my town and we are updating the blog together... :) The Festivales Patronales are this weekend. Its kind of like the fourth of july for us. It is to honor the patron saint of the town. There are dance presentations every night and today a rodeo. Last night was very exciting. The miss nicaragua pagent (but for this department or state if you will). We were all packed in watching the lovely and nubile scantily clad dancers when all the sudden someone let off a tear gas grenade. So the whole crowd took off running. Of course it didnt take more than 3 mins before we went back. The election of the queen is very important. Anyhow, it was quite interesting. Right now all the past volunteers who have lived with my family are visiting from their sites for the festivities. It is fun. We are all brothers and sisters.... :)

Mom asked to have some more details about life here.
First of all it is the dry season. So it is dry and windy and dusty and hot. THough not unbearably hot. We are told that it gets a lot greener in the rainy season, but it looks pretty green to us now. It is somewhat tropical looking here. There are some palm trees and lots of other big trees and vines. We are told there are monkeys around but we havnt seen them.

Training is called experiential or participatory which means that it takes place in small groups in the setting and is completely practical. The groups are 4 or less per town. We take turns having spanish class in each others houses on mondays, tuesdays and thursdays. We meet from 8 am until noon and then 1-3. The spanish training is completly applied. We learn something and then have to use it immediatley using tools and doing things that are health related. We both have youth groups started that we will be doing a community project with and we will both have to give lots of little presentations at the health centers here, and to the youth during training.

On wednesdays and fridays and some saturday mornings we have technical training. We all get together as a large group somewhere near the training towns and learn about how to be health volunteers and how to stay safe and healthy. We learned about malaria and dengue yesterday. Sounds like we will probably all get dengue while we are here at least once, and it sounds like the worst sickness ever! Fun fun! So if we write saying that we think we are dying, we probably aren´t. We are getting pretty excited thinking about having our own place. We go on volunteer visits at the end of next week. This is where we go and stay with a health volunteer somewhere in nicaragua and see how they live and work. We will be excited for this.

Well, we are sort of sluffing a rodeo right now. Looks sad for me. But we love and miss allayall!

Monday, January 21, 2008

One week down, ten to go!!

Well, The first and hardest week has passed. I visited kory in his town this weekend and can now give you an update about both of us. First of all, My birthday was one of the funnest I have had. I got sung to 4 times and had cake three times. Peace corps trainers brought me a tres leche cake (for everyone of course), then my mom had made me a cake when I got home. It had pineapple in it. I got to see kory for the first time that day and my friends and I stayed up late playing cards with my family.

This is Mariaisamar, Ana Francisca and Victoria with my cake.
This is my house... pretty nice. And my friends here in this town.

This weekend I went to visit kory. I would say that the town he lives in is a little poorer than mine. We walked all over and found an artists house. It was so lovely. We decided we could really see ourselves here with our own place. Of course it is difficult to live with other people, but our families are wonderful. Korys dad left to work in costa rica for 3 months and the 15 year old (not pictures) will be off to college soon, so kory will be left with his nice mother and marvin, the 5 year old. We are both working very very hard at spanish. We were feeling pretty good about ourselves, and then we went to our ward for church on sunday and couldnt understand jack! But it seems like a nice little ward. I am feeling down about spanish today.. monday, but that is normal. We have good days and bad days.

The world wide director of peace corps and the assistant director (not the assistant to the director .. hehe.) SHe came to my town to visit my little group so that was quite an honor. She said they had a meeting with the president (Danial Ortega) of nicaragua and that is was one of the best meetings with officials they had ever had. He was extremely warm and excited to have peace corps here. He gave the go ahead to all his cabinet to work with us.

So this was the food at the extremely nice restaurant that we were at here in nicaragua before we went to live with our families. MMMMMMMM.... but it is still very good. Just a little bland. My mother cooks fabulous stuff. Kory is not responding well to the cheese here, so he is now vegan for three months. Hehe.

Well. I am going to get an icecream with the other aspirantes. Hasta Luego!

Monday, January 14, 2008

Here we are... aspirantes oficiales!

Hola, Heather here. Kory is living in a different town and so I cannot write about his experience right now. I am living in a little town outside managua (with four other trainees) but we all live with different host families. My family consists of three women: A grandma Victoria, a mom Ana Francisca, and a 15 year old named Maria. It is a very sweet dynamic. The father was killed in an accident a long time ago, so we have found some similarities. There is also a little store in our house called a pulpuria. I have my own room with a toilet and shower, but the shower is just a pipe coming out of the wall, therefore I take bucket showers.

Today I got to see kory and where he lives by a happy accident. We were sharing a peace corps van ride to give stool samples because we have the runs. How sweet. He has a tiny kitten and an even tinier puppy at his house. He also has pigs and chickens and an avacodo tree. It seems fun. My family only has banana trees, but that is pretty cool.

Class is going well. Today we walked around the town and made a map of different things and then we were formally introduced to the police so they know us and where we live. This is a requirement for trainees in these little towns by the peace corps. It is good. I will see kory on wednesday.. my birthday! We are working hard and trying to learn as much as we can.

At night we (the other trainees) walk around with the 15 year old girls from our family and chat with other families and friends. Everyone has their door open and we can just chat. It is very tranquil here as is the way of life. We are getting used to this. We are going to start a youth group very soon in each town, so I will be working on that, as will kory in his town. We have plenty of youth friends here so far. There is a women in my group of trainees that is 66! She is great and then there is another girl and guy in their twenties. (This is just for your information).

Well. I of course do not have internet in my house, but there is a cybercafe at which I am typing now. But man is it slow. My family has a cell phone, but I do not know the number. After I get it you can call me. T asked if she should write me a letter, no. Internet is good, except if you can send us physical pictures that would be great. When we get our real assignment, we can negotiate again. This is where we will live for three months though. Well. I think its time for siesta. Hasta Luego!

PS B and T that sounds so crappy about the water gushing! Thanks for writing me! Its nice to hear from home. All of you who read this, please let us know what you are doing so we dont get homesick! Send us an email every once in a while. Mom, I hope you get feeling better. I lov you and hope you dont get bronchitus. I love you and miss you all!

Wednesday, January 9, 2008

We are here!!!!

We have arrived in Nicaragua! Finally after the staging in DC, we flew in to Managua this morning. Staging was in Georgetown, DC. We thoroughly enjoyed it there. It was a way cute town. The people in our group are great and we are so excited about this! It just gts better and better. Staging was a lot of general information about safety and other cultural integration issues and some "get to know eachother" activities. We had to get up at 3 in the moring and our hotel checkout was at 4. We arrived in country at about 2 o clock Nica time. This keyboard is hard to use so please excuse the errors in punctuation. Our hotel here is beautiful! (by the standards of what we expected). They must be buttering us up for the real stuff. The food is great and there is a pool. The rooms are probably the nicest I have seen in Central America (limited experience). This hotel is directly across the street from the Managua airport. We started our in-country training today and have much more to do before the end of the week. (more shots, more info, more info, etc.) We will meet our host-families on Saturday afternoon and from there, Heather and I will be separated into separate families. However, we are in the same training group so we will be close and we will have technical instruction together at least once a week. Also, after five weeks we will be assigned to our post and from there, we will still live with separate families, but we will be working together.
Please know that we are being very well taken care of and we are extremely excited about this journey. We love you all and hope you write us while we are here. Training will go quickly and we will be integrating in no time.
We hope all is well back home and we will send pictures or post them when we can. We are not sure when we will have access to internet again, but all is well!
Please comment so we can have some feedback!

Wednesday, January 2, 2008

la Poesía

As one would expect, Heather and I have been doing a little research on Nicaragua, during which, we have discovered, to my delight, that Nicaragua and poetry are virtually inseparable. In fact, it could be, and in some cases has been, called the poetry capitol of the hemisphere. The Lonely Planet puts it this way, "Nicaragua, as any book will tell you, is the only country in the world that celebrates literature, particularly poetry, with appropriate passion, revering its writers with a fervor reserved (in more developed countries) for people like Paris Hilton."

If you are interested in experiencing some Nicaraguan poetry, Nicaragua's "greatest poet" is Rubén Darío. Some others are: Leonel Rugama Rugama, Rigoberto Lopez Perez, Ernesto Cardenal, and Giocanda Belli. For biographies and bibliographies, see (a Rubén Darío tribute site).

For the next three months of training in Nicaragua, our mailing address is:

Heather Mckinnon/Kory Fluckiger, PCT
Voluntario del Cuerpo de Paz
Apartado Postal 3256
Managua, Nicaragua
Central America

We leave in four days for Washington D.C. We will be there for "staging" for three days. Then we fly down to Managua. From there... who knows.

Happy New Year! Vamos a Nicaragua!!!

P.S.-- We sold the car and Heather's government passport is all clear!!!