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!