Sunday, April 27, 2008

Journey to the Jungle

The last week we went out on the vaccination jornada. The first day we went out, we sadley did not take our camera because we didnt know what to expect. Unfortunately and fortunately, we went to the most beautiful place either of us has ever seen with our own eyes. We drove in a truck with about 16 other people way up in the mountains near a reserve called Peñas Blancas. This is a mountain range that sticks strait out of the jungle into the sky. Trees bigger than I have ever seen with moss and vines hanging on them. Little waterfalls. Butterflys as big as my hand and the sound of Congo monkeys barking all over. We ended up in this little community, I hate to even call it that because it didnt look like anything, but a lot of people sure came. We set up shop in this building owned by a coffee finca. It had a long wide window that looked right into the side of this enormous mountian shooting strait up into the sky about a kilometer high. It was covered in monkey trees as I like to call them because they look just like the fake trees at the zoo in the monkey house.. sad I know, but now I know why they make them that way. It was breathtaking.
We commenced to give a diarhea charla to a group of school kids who looked on and didnt say anything. And afterwords they continued to look on as each one came to center stage and got their shots and polio drops. They left crying. We spent most of the day there, and then we packed up our coolers full of vaccines and hiked down the mountain. We stopped at this one house to check on a pregnant lady. There was a man outside cutting cacao pods and taking out the seeds. We chatted with him for a while and told him that we had never seen the seeds in the pods. He made us taste one. They were covered in this slimey goo. The goo was sweet, but the seed was quite bitter and we spit it out. Next we hiked down this trail through the jungle, next to a little stream. This was one of those moments that you say to yourself, holy crap.. Im in the Peace Corps!
We stopped at another little village and set up again. This time while kory was giving the charla, I giggled because there were these little tiny pigglets running around all over. And goats too. You can imagine my excitement.
The truck came to get us at the end of the day. On the way home we randomly stopped, as you do in these types of countries- at the whim of the driver, whatever the whim may be.. peeing, drinking coffee, saying hi to a girlfriend. Today the whim was to buy cuajada, cheese, at a farm house. One of our guys also chased a rooster around until he cought it, tied it up and bought it. He wasnt holding it very nice, so I held it for a while like a baby. They laughed. It was doomed to die later. The least I could do was afford it not to be held upside down while it puked.
The next time we went out to the country, not so jungley, but very gorgeous. Much the same experience. We collected some type of citris fruit. We are not sure if they were limes, lemons, or oranges. Its confusing because they have limonas naranjas here which are limes that look like warty oranges. Anyway, we made fresco with it. This time we were ready with more charlas. I gave two charlas about family violence and one about STDs to school kids and moms. We also did a diarhea charla for the little ones. We took condoms along for a demo but we didnt have any platanos.
The next week we got ready to go out on the jornada, and when we showed up at the health center, they told us a medical brigade was coming and needed help translating. We were pretty scared that WE would be the ones translating. It turned out to be an Airforce medical unit. They are really nice people. We have been translating tirelessley every day. They see about 600 - 700 patients a day. We are getting pretty good at translating medical needs. Virtually everyone in Nicaragua has backache, headache, neckache, acid reflux, cough, fever, scabies, diarhea, dry skin and a parasite. Easy right? I cant tell you how tired we are of translating. We wake up at 6am, walk the kilometer or so accross town to our house, shower, make breakfast, dress and go to the health center. We come home at about 430, rest for an hour in the hammock, then teach three hours of english. We come home, pack up for the next day, then trek across town again to the host family house. Watch tv and chat for a half hour, fall into bed. Check for flees and mouse poo and pass out.
I also made some delightful things these last two weeks. I made the best hummus I have ever made. The secret is the molina. I have always used a blender. But here, one has things ground at the local molina. It does a far superior job. Very smooth. I also made soymilk and soymeat for the first time. It turned out ok. Still experimenting with it not falling apart to death. The soy milk tastes a lot like the raw soy beans, which to me, isnt that good. I dont know why it doesnt taste like Silk. It looks just like it. And despite my efforts with suger and vanilla, it tastes like raw soybeans. Hmm. Any advice? I also made flat breads and curry vegetables and we made peanut butter also with the help of the molina. It was amazing. I would add some of the pictures, but it is loading too slow.
Another excitement of last week was the discovery and death of a 3 incher! You should know that I mean cockroach. He was very slow so spraying him with death spray was not a problem. Yes people, I heather, am a changing women. I no longer feel bad for killing things like this. Im still working on being on ok with killing mice. We have some big problems with them. but I havnt figured out how I can live with myself yet. Anyway, the cockroach is still in our garden. Usually the ants come right away and eat them, but he hasnt been touched. He might be immortal. If you come to visit, he might still be here.

Saturday, April 12, 2008

La Palomera

Okay. Three inches includes the wings. But Heather was not exagerating on the sound. It is sort of like the very worst section of a dial-up internet connection played over a boombox ... in God´s house. Photos to come...

We have named our home La Palomera. (the pigeon place, more or less). The reason for this is that it is the pround founder of the FPLLN, or La Fundación de las Palomas Luchas Libres de Nicaragua. Basically, The Nicaraguan Foundation of Wrestling Pigeons. It is rather like cock fighting, (which is leagal and common here), except rather than roosters, they are pigeons, and they are on our roof, all day,... every day, and nobody wins any money.

A few vignettes of our life in La Dahlia:

The Plancha Box

It fell from the garbage truck, over-full with banana peals and coco rinds, and landed neatly, squarely, in the middle of the dirt road. The empty box, which recently held a new plancha, or iron, was a prize too enticing for the chavalo to resist. Slowly he picked it from the ground, wary that it would be taken from him. Like a cautious squirel in an overcrowded city park, with a seed or a cheeto, he scampered around the corner.


Our street is made of dirt. But it is very carefully and meticulously maintained dirt. Whatever wonderful things don´t grow on our street, they don´t grow by choice. For those green things which venture to breach the earth, to atempt to bring some life to our street, to our house, quickly fall to the machete blade of Enecefero. Tolerated by adults, teased by children, feared by all things green and happy, Enecefero lives next door. He is and babbling old man who has long since lost his mind. It would seem that the only joy he recieves, comes from his grooming of the earth. For that, we will let Enecefero mow our yard, blade by blade, carefully chopping at grass or moss or vine, until all there is is dirt and rocks as far as the eye can see.

Chicharra Catchers

Imagine the chicharra, the size of the last section of a grown man´s thumb, and as thick, wings twice the length of the striped, scaley body, clinging to the light posts and tree trunks by the tens of dozens. The children surround the captives with there tools: broom handles or long branches topped with a halved half-liter bottle, like a funnel. They scoop the insects from their perches with little resisistence. They hold them in their hands and cause them to "scream." When asked what she would do with it, one little girl replied, "estan como jugetas." "They are as toys."


On a late night treck from the english class we teach, we chanced upon a creature, fortunately dead, in the road. Too big to be a rat, but only slightly too small to be a dog, it required further inspection. The appearance was that of a rat, but the body was about a foot long and the tail as thick as my index finger. Opossum? R.O.U.S.? We may never know.

Sunday, April 6, 2008

First week in La Dalia

Well. we officially love La Dalia! We have enjoyed very much the freedom that we have had as volunteers. Especially after the rigorous training that we have been through. We have spent the mornings at work. Kory at the Centro de Salud and I at the Casa Materna. We have been working on this big poster about Family planning methods. It is pretty awsome. We are getting ready to participate in a Jornada de Vacunacion at the end of the month. This is a huge campain that the health centers do in order to vaccinate all the children in the rural areas. It takes about two weeks and tons of work on the part of doctors, nurses, and other NGOs. We will be helping out and giving charlas ... of course. It will be fun to get to know the municipio better.

In the afternoons, we have been cleaning our house and getting it ready so we can make charlas there and have an office. We have cleaned our little tails off! Kory rewired almost all the lights, we fixed the pila (water reservuar) and did laundry. We mopped about 6 times, and I just bought some floor wax so it will stay shiny. Kory even crawled on the roof and patched the holes with some special tar tape. It was pretty manly. We tried cooking beans yesterday and remembered that the pots have holes in them about half way through. That was poo. There was bean soup everywhere. Luckily our neighbor happened to bring us some sweet rice and beens as a gift! How sweet! Anyway, hopefully next week we can work a lot harder at being volunteers now that our little minds are organized.

Let me just mention a few things about the animals here. There are these immensley enjoyable little lizards all over the walls called Escorpios (not to be confused with scorpians.. though there are those too we hear.) I didnt know that they layed eggs! Kory warned me and I didnt believe him, so I crushed one and it had a baby escorpio inside! It was incredibley sad! So here is a picture of the eggs that I will now now be protecting with all my might.

This poor little guy we found stuck and dried to a piece of duct tape. Tragic!

Another thing I would like to talk about is these freaking screamer bugs!
They are called Chicharras.. google this. Trust me. They are EVERYWHERE and they scream so loud that you cannot hear anyone talking! They are about two inches (kory says three and would like to verify this because he had to catch two of them in our room last night and cast them out the window while I quivered in the corner.) We find their wings all over the house because the birds eat them and leave the wings for us. I hate them! Actually, I dont mind them until they come inside. They are quite harmless, in fact, helpless if they land on their backs. But if you kick them lightley or move them, they begin flapping around in a hysteria like a small bird with a blindfold on! And who knows where they will land.... We had two in our room last night as I mentioned. THank HEAVEN for mosquito nets.. that is all I can say! When kory caught this one, it started screaming, but it sounded like a parrot with a sock over its head. Its kind of funny.

Well, a few last items, this reserve is about 20 mins from our house.. looks pretty dang sweet! We might check it out. And if anybody comes to visit, They might want to check it out too.

And lastley, I would like to leave on a note about oral higene. I have always been a Crest Complete toothbrush kind of girl. When they went out of popularity a few years ago, I sought their sawtooth beauty in every grocery store. When the time came for a new toothbrush here in nicaragua, We found only one kind of tooth brush in the store that day. It was one of those expensive new fangled things with bling on every corner.. I never would have bought this thing in the states. But, we didnt have a choice that day. BUT. Im here to send praises to the gods for making a toothbrush so delightful as this. So delightful in fact to warrant a paragraph and picture on my blog. Kory says, ¨It feels like a hug in my mouth¨and boy, thats an understatement. Well. WE must get back. Chat with you all next week!