Monday, August 31, 2009

bright ideas

No you are not looking at one of korys weird paintings, he ACTUALLY did use our blender to make a new light fixture in our house. This sad sad blender. We saved our money .. or rather I was too tight to buy a good blender which costs about 800 cordobas, so we bought one that costed 350. It barely stirred the food. The motor caught on fire within the month while trying to blend COOKED BEANS! Can you believe it. So it was hanging out in the storage room that had a bad light socket. Kory did this in a few hours one day. Dang it he´s funny.

In work news, this is a nutrition charla I did in my house for my church womens group. We learned about good nutrition and then I taught them how to cook with vegetable, green leaves and soy beans. We made a delicious vegetable soup with yucca leaves and TVP, we made these little fried soy balls that were full of green leaves and onions and garlic (no cracks about deep fried things being unhealthy! You do what you can here. Baby steps) And we also used the soymilk to make banana smoothies (frescos). Yum!

No news about the cat. I heard 2 seperate roomers (how do you spell that) about where he was and I went looking, with no luck, Now I hear that someone named Doña Marta has him tied up in her house in Barrio San Martín. Marta better watch her back! I have looooottss of photos of that cat to prove he is half mine.

I also started a literacy group with my church womens group. It was really cool. I hope they hang in there for the 7 months we have left.

Thursday, August 27, 2009


My time-share kitty has disappeared. I want him back. He brought me joy and I wonder if he's ok.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

I used to think that this was the easiest job ever. A dream job. I used to say that Heather and I were basically funded to do whatever we could to help people. That I could spend all day trying to initiate projects or connect people or organizations and that I would never have to stop to seek my own funding to sustain myself in the meantime. I never had to figure out how to get paid for it. The folley in this thinking is that it neglects to mention the stress created by the combination of the following elements: 1) Trying to help your best friends, who are poor and starving, to find a way to sustain themselves. and 2) Dealing with the guilty knowledge that if you fail, you don´t starve. You go home. We have so much, and so little.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Just some words

Thumbs down on Transformers 2. Thumbs up on helping some kids start a pizzaria. (more on that later). I saw G.I. Joe in Managua. It served its purpose. News from the medical office: for those of you in the know, the tests came back and everything looks good. We are overwhelmed with joy and relief. LAPC (Life After Peace Corps) is beginning to take shape for us. It is a lot to consider. It will be difficult to not be volunteers. What Heather didn´t say about the volcano trip is that at the beginning of the hike there were kids selling sticks they had cut down for walking sticks. They were five Quetzales each. I bought one. After the hike there were kids at the bottom of the trail asking everyone to gift them their sticks. I told them "no, I paid Q5 for this stick." What does this have to do with anything? Well, I gathered a handful of the kids together and started "La cooperativa de niños palitos" or "the twig kid cooperative." Here is how it works: They all work together, set up a stand at the base of the volcano with a sign that explains that they sell sticks for Q5 and buy them back for Q2. That means that they are essentially renting the sticks for Q3. In this manner, they eliminate the competition by working together, stop cutting sticks, earn more money, and stop bothering the tourists. While to some, this may seem like an elaborate scheme to sell my stick back to poor kids, but it goes further than that. I don´t need Q2 as much as I need them to learn that if you buy something for Q2 and sell it for Q5, you have earned Q3 without doing any work and that asking tourists to gift them murchandise they have already purchased is not sustainable. The point is, I was on VACATION! There is no escape. Ever. The world is made up of just so many components and I don´t think I will ever be able to stop trying to show to the individual possesors of each component the potential whole. We are built on independence. It´s what we value in our culture. Why? We all have so much to share and for too long we won´t consider sharing it without asking "what´s in it for me?" without even thinking about the fact that if everyone forgot themselves for just a moment, we would all be in someone´s thoughts and have someone else in ours. The "me first" mentality will implode our world. We need to turn outward. First.

So, thanks for letting me blow off some steam. Things are going great here. We love our work and eveyday we learn more that we will carry with us and use for the rest of our lives. We love and understand each other more now than I think we ever would have without this experience. Our family will be stronger for it, our lives richer, and our spirits inseperable. Thank you everybody who has supported us in this service and continues to support us with comments and letters and e-mail and the occasional package. We love you.

No pictures today because I wasn´t planning on updating the blog. Other news, however, Mt. Dew appeared in an grocery store in Managua. Just a promotion. A trial. They weren´t even cold. I bought six and carried them back six hours home, where they sit, chilled in the refridgerator, waiting for me. It´s the first I have seen and there may never be anymore in this country again. Doin´the Dew, Nica style.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009


Well, we finally had a vacation. We went on a trip to the Guatemala temple with our church peops from Matagalpa. We left our site on monday night, slept in the church until 3am and then we got on a bus with 41 other people and drove through 3 borders to get there at 8pm. We had a really great time during the two days we spent there. Becky flew in to the city and with the help of some very nice members whom we didnt know, we met her at the airport.
The next day we headed to Tikal, which was an ALL day bus ride again. Tikal is of course incredible and awsome (the more inspirational use of the word.) It was rainy that day and was very slippery in the jungle. there was also an odd scent of chicken soup everywhere we went. We finally decided it was either the europeans or a tree that was everywhere. Anyway, we imagined ourselves climbing up the stairs on our way to be sacrificed. Of course this in unavoidable to imagine this. Thanks to Apocolypto and 2 semesters of art history. But besides the trembling in our legs and slippery mud, we managed to control our fear. The scariest thing was climbing those freakin stairs... wooden and wet and barley stable.. you can see kory is the little red dot. He is wearing his ¨blog shirt¨as he calls it because he always happens to be wearing it in our blog entries. (We have a limited selection of clothes.) Anywho.. it was super scary. Becky was especially scared which I though suspicious for someone who claims to have jumped out of an airplain 2 times.
After another all day bus ride back to the city, a night spent at a friends house and another complimentary ride to the ¨bus station¨ we were ready for our travel to Panajachel. Here we are.. well, kory and becky, in the ¨bus station.¨When we left in the bus they asked us to lay down so that the police didnt see us. They said it was illegal to take people out of the station.
El lago Atitlan is a GIGANTIC crator lake that colapsed and filled with water, then sprouted 3 more volcanos around it. It is one of the most beautiful places I have ever seen. It was really interesting to compare the level of development of Guatemala with Nicaragua. I found that they seem to have had a lot of economic stimulation and growth since the last time I was there. Their standard of living is definately a few steps above that of Nicaragua. Their cultivation methods seemed very much more orginized and fruitful and thier diet is DEFINATELY mejor. They were eating a nice variety of vegetables and squashes. Here they almost never eat vegetables. Anyhow, besides all that, their culture had not been obliterated by decades of war.. not that they have not had wars.. they have had serious problems but it didnt rob people of their cultural identities entirely and today the different tribes still dress in their traditional outfits.

We stayed in the ex-pat hippi filled town of San Marcos, where they do all kinds of massages and yogas and have cute little restaurants. The streets are just little stone paved sidewalks. For me it was a dream. I loved it there. Besides all the hippies, we could probably live there and be happy forever.Next we were off to civilized Antigua.. the gringo mecca of Guatemala. For kory and I, it was a treat to be in a place with nicely designed stores and restaurants and good smells. You dont realize how precious this is. And its usually only a benefit to those who have money. When you live without it, you realize what a precious commodity good smells and purposeful design is. We were encantados.The last day we had, becky wanted to go climb a volcano. STUPID I say, but I was outvoted, so we went. Kory in his flipflops, me in my crocs and becky in her sandles (not a wise choice, but it really wasnt a choice.. its all we had) We suffered through razor sharp rocks filling our shoes and having to go on. At one point I took off my shoes because they kept filling with rocks and it hurt. Kory borrowed a machete and cut off the bottom of his pants to tie on his flipflops. Quess how long that lasted. ... Ya. About 3 minutes. The horrible climb was well worth it when we got to the top. We were able to go right up to the molten lava.. as close as not burning our hair and shoes would allow. But close enough (1 meter) so that kory could poke his walking stick into the lava and roast marshmellows in 2 seconds. mmmmm. It was something they would never let you do int he civilized world. They would block off the mountain.. and probably for good reason, but it was a pivital moment in the vacation for us. We werent expecting anything so cool and were very much excited to add this to our list of things we have done before we die. Good thing we didnt die there.