Volunteers in San Juan del Sur with random pirate! See below to identify who's who!
Walking in the dark after coming back from San Juan del Sur! My fashion sense has sort of taken a down-spiral...
Cute little Saliche...a raindrop from heaven.
Nothing says fun like a piñata! I was chosen as the token volunteer to take a swing batter! Whoa! By the way...the piñata was Barney...oops!
Volunteer dinner at the house. From left to right (Nadine from Austria, Carmen from Nicaragua, Tini from Austria, Antonia from Switzerland, Tinka from Holland, Verena from Austria, Verena from Germany, yours truly, Monika from Holland, Ryan (the token male and photographer is taking the picture) :)
Whew! What a week/10 days! It is amazing how fast and slow time can go all at once. More of la vida nica began in San Juan del Sur, a beach town in the south of the country, with the rest of the volunteers as we took a short break to get to know one another and relax. It was very nice to get away and see some of the country other than the NPH property. After that a demanding week with the kids followed. I have decided to continue my “categories” to explain things - so, off we go!
San Juan del Sur
It is beautiful there and there seem to be more gringo surfers than Nicaraguans in this town. We were able to find a hostel for $7 a night and eat a couple of hamburgers and drink beer. All in all it was great. The somewhat sleepy fishing town definitely has started to feel the waves of tourism, but not to the exploited degree of many beautiful port towns. The beaches are not very crowed and it was good to spend some time with the other volunteers, although, I have found that my personal bubble is slowly diminishing and or is non-existent. It is hard to find a moment to walk alone on the beach or sit and read. Hopefully, in two weeks with my next break I can get some reading done J
Getting around Nicaragua and finding what people call the bus stop is a constant cat and mouse routine. Although, a transportation system exists it is hardly consistent, safe, reliable, but if you are in the right mindset it can be very comical. For instance, getting to and from the coast via the bus is what can best be described as a clusterX@!?. All buses in Nicaragua are basically hand-me-down school buses that are creatively decorated with catholic imagery and have large graphic names like “Amor de Dios” (God’s love) or “Jesus es Señor” (Jesus is Lord). One has to be careful to not catch the “ordinario” bus that stops for every woman, child, and chicken to pack like sardines on the bus. Ryan and I have smelled more armpits and had people way closer than we ever thought possible.
This past week all the volunteers have spent from dawn until dusk shadowing the main caretakers, the Tios and Tias (Uncles and Aunts), of the kids. We were each assigned a section of kids that we will now eat dinner with everyday. I have been paired with a group of 8 12-15 year old boys with Tio Julio. It has been a very enriching experience to get to know the boys who are still sweet and want hugs, but who want to appear tough around others. They are always active and are very patient with my faults in Spanish. I feel very blessed to be able to spend time with them and mother them. I have learned that the Tios/Tias work very hard and deserve much respect. They are with the kids all the time and are in charge of discipline, chores, and keeping tabs on their every move and word. It has been an exhausting work to constantly be with the kids this week, but very rewarding.
No matter the hour, the heat, the amount of players, the goal posts, the weight of rice of beans in the belly, or the desire of the volunteers, the kids LOVE playing soccer. I have been able to really hone my skills on the field here, which means that I have kicked the ball maybe four times that were followed by a cheer from the crowd. God works in mysterious ways, and I have begun to wonder about his sense of humor as I unsuccessfully attempt to understand why soccer is the most popular sport on the planet. What I find amazing is that all the kids play barefoot and are very tough on the field. I have a couple of welts on my shins that only highlight my gringa background. I will keep you all updated on this very exciting news that now at the age of 24 am I playing a team sport on a regular basis.
School is scheduled to start officially February 2nd, so we have one more week of camp/daycare/wear the kids out so they don’t cause trouble. Tomorrow, I am overseeing my first official “activities” as the coordinator. While the older boys play soccer during the day the younger kids will be making nametags for their doors in the morning and in the afternoon playing fun get-to-know you games! Yay! The other volunteers will be helping me, but I hope it goes well and the kids have fun. It is evident that the kids need to start a new routine and I am looking forward to school starting. I will have more news about my position in the resource room soon.
It may be a surprise to many of you, but over the last couple of days with the news of the earthquakes in Haiti, the lack of personal space, a lack of sleep, and missing good old Rockford, I cried a bit while hearing my parents’ voice over the phone. J As my Dad would say I got a little dehydrated as I thought about how much I am loved and how big and scary the world is sometimes. In the midst of it, though, I am glad to be here and I am looking forward to the coming weeks with school starting and getting to know the kids more and more. Bottom line - I know I am here for a reason, I just hope its just not to pretend to play soccer. Mucho amor.