Upon arrival Ryan and I had no concept of when our work would start, how the routines here are with the kids, etc., so in baptism by fire we have found that during the months of December and January half of the kids are on vacation and with extended family. School does not officially begin until February. As a result, we have been playing soccer, racquet baseball, drawing with chalk, jumping rope, going to the beach, having races, putting on a talent show, and basically anything involving a lot of movement to wear out the kids. The people here don’t seem to be detail people, so little by little I am learning how things work.
La comida (the food)
Two words: Gallo pinto (painted chicken). It is the common red beans and rice dish here that is paired with everything from eggs, hot dogs, chicken feet (not my favorite), plantains, and sour cream. The kids love it, but if eat too much of it I feel as thought there is a lead ball in my stomach for hours. The fruit here is really wonderful and here at NPH they are self-sustained so everything is very fresh. The juices that they serve, however, are a mix between oatmeal, fruit, and vegetables. It is sort of like V8 third world style. Although, I have not had a problems with the food I have found myself craving a beer and pizza after the day.
I have already developed a sincere appreciation of washers and dryers and warm showers. Living here is sort of like glorified camping under a tin roof and mosquito net. Overall, it is comfortable, but definitely not plush. I am going to be an expert at washing clothes by hand and I think I am going to develop immunity to being scared with a thunderstorm.
Los Niños (the kids)
The 60 or so kids that I have met so far are all ages from 5-17 and all have their own stories. As I get better with Spanish I understand more and more that each one has their sweet and a not-so-sweet side. All the kids are very tough and not a lot bothers them except losing a soccer game. They all hold NPH with a high regard and refer to their friends as family. Once 100 more kids get here for school to start things will only be more magnified. I am sure I will have more to say about my one on one experiences with the kids.
La cultura (the culture)
The culture here has a rich political history that seems rather absent here at NPH. Once outside, however, there is political propaganda in many corners and street signs. All Nicaraguans are very proud to be so and are very connected to the landscape here. For example, earlier in the week we drew with sidewalk chalk for what seemed like hours, but almost every child drew the two volcanoes that are on the island, a sun, and tropical like trees. I remember when I was younger, and even now, drew pictorial houses with fences and sunshine. I am sure such comparisons will continue to be interesting. All the volunteers also had the privilege of “surprising” the kids the night we had a talent show with a Nicaraguan folklore dance that one of the older boys taught us. Everyone was thrilled to see us all dressed up participating. I defiantly thought about how no 10 year old in the U.S. would be so excited to see a Nicaraguan do square dance. J
El concepto de tiempo (the concept of time)
Simply said, the concept of time does not exist here like it does at home. Dinner time is from 6 – 6:30 p.m. and will sometimes start at 6 sometimes at 6:45, you never really know. Also, we were instructed to be ready for Mass at 8:30 a.m. to get on the bus to the nearest town on Sunday, little did we know that we would actually get on the bus at 9:15, that the 10 a.m. Mass would begin at 10:30, and we would be back to NPH at 1 p.m. Everybody else seemed to know though. Oh well, la vida Nica.