And so begins the work and the rainy season here! Sorry it’s been a while for a real update on my life. I’ve been keeping pretty busy with a full work schedule the last two months, while trying to stay dry and not get eaten alive by mosquitoes. Estelí is looking quite beautiful at this time of year: all the mountains and hills that were dry and a depressing shade of yellow are now a bright vibrant green. My running route continues to take my breath away (see previous post for pictures). Life is often put on hold here, sometimes for an entire afternoon, when the rain comes. It’s fun to witness. When it rains here, it doesn’t just rain: it downpours. The sound of the rain falling on my host family’s roof, though loud, is really beautiful. I like to sit in a rocking chair in the front entrance of the house and watch things get washed away in the street, or sit in my room and read with the natural sountrack.

My work schedule looks something like this: Monday health classes in La Fraternidad, a NGO funded by Austria that supports various before- and after-school programs; Tuesday with my nurse counterpart observing house visits to various barrios in town, Wednesday morning in the health center observing and giving a charla (15 minute health presentations on various topics) with the afternoon giving health classes at a local elementary school to 5th and 6th graders; Thursday visits to neighboring communities with various health center staff; and Friday mornings at the elementary school again with the other session of students. With the help of two nurses, we’ve started two new youth groups as well: a group of young women and a group of adolescentes from different barrios. We’re meeting every few weeks and so far I think it’s going well. Lots of things keeping me busy!

So far probably my favorite thing is teaching. I’ve designed a three month health series that I’m implementing at a local elementary school and at the NGO. We started with themes like self-esteem, communication, drugs and alcohol/making decisions and now are moving on to puberty and adolescence. Teaching is oodles of fun. I’m pretty interactive in class, using games, posters, activities, etc. The kids call me “profe” (short for profesora) and get really excited (some run to hug me) when they see me enter the school. I’m sure the excitement of having an American teacher will wear off soon but I’m enjoying it while I can. Also now there’s a ton of kids saying hi to me on the street which is a great confidence booster! Kids are an easier age group and entry point into the community: they’re open minded and accepting (and especially love the games and activities I use). Plus they are a lot of fun!

There have been quite a few celebrations as of late. A month ago were the Fiestas Patronales in Condega (festival of the patron saint of Condega, Saint Isidro). I had my first visitors in town: a few Peace Corps Volunteers from the neighboring northern department of Nueva Segovia. It which was really fun having people to show around town. Work slowed down for the week as people went with their families to the carnival rides, to the central park where artisan vendors came to set up tents, to check out the stands full of toys, to eat street food, or to drink (which was a big part of the festivities). It was a fun few days in town.

Mother’s day is a national holiday here (i.e. no school) and somehow it became something of a four-day weekend. We put on a celebration in the health center for the brigadistas, volunteer health workers that help the health center staff mobilize people about various health campaigns. I got to introduce myself to the many brigadistas in attendence, which was great because I hope to work with them in the future. A few local musicians played, we danced and of course had piñatas. Yours truly even made it on local TV when it was my turn with thepiñata. There’s a lot of dancing involved while partaking in the festivities: you don’t just go up swinging, you dance in circles and occasionally swing to hit the piñata. I unfortunately missed seeing it on TV but my host family said it showed me dancing.. oh dear. First celebrity moment here I suppose! The health center also had it’s own celebration for all the staff who are mothers as well. Somehow I ended up dancing in front of everyone. Again. I’ve come to realize you’ve got to be willing to make fun of yourself in front of a groups of people from time to time… hehe. In any event, a few people gave me compliments on my dancing skills! Hoorah.

Another celebration was for my 23rd birthday! I baked oatmeal raisin cookies at a new friend’s house to share with the health center staff (got me some brownie points from the nurses who loved them!). We also baked a chocolate cake to eat at night with my host family.  I did treat myself to a pedicure for $3 (big splurge). Other than that, nothing too exciting went on. The more exciting part was the weekend, when I made my first official trip to Estelí, the big regional capital (120,000) about 45 minutes south of Condega. I had only been to Esteli a few times for only a few hours before, so it was great to spend some time there. A bunch of Peace Corps Volunteer friends came in to celebrate so we had a great time. Italian food for dinner and a fun place after with live music! The next day happened to be a huge earth festival which was really fun to walk around. Lots of great food throughout the weekend: mexican tacos! hummus and pita! granola and yogurt! iced coffee! garlic bread! pasta! flan! oh my! (Note: My current diet consists of pretty much rice and beans for breakfast, lunch and dinner… so this weekend was a welcome change). Plus great company. Overall a great birthday!

Thanks to everyone for your birthday wishes (especially big shout-out to my parents, sister and aunt for the amazing packages). Fun fact: this year marks four years in a row celebrating my birthday in a different country with people of a different nationality than my own.

As you can probably tell from this blog, I’ve been keeping pretty busy and some pretty exciting things have been going on. Hard to believe that in a few weeks I will have marked six months in Nicaragua! In two weeks, I’ll leave Condega for the first time in three months to have a reconnect in Managua with my training group. I’m also about to move in with a new host family next month, stay posted for details on that. Also I’m working on putting together an audio clip of the sounds of Condega so stay tuned… been recording sounds over the last week so it should be pretty cool.

Hope you enjoyed the update and this post finds you well, wherever in the world you’re reading it!


A few happy pictures from this week 🙂