Wednesday, December 23, 2009

My Life in Pictures.... Plus a Little Treat!

Life over the last two weeks has been totally crazy! I spent one week in the campo staying with a family and then returned home to Ciudad Sandino long enough to bid farewell to Michael and Jenna, the two volunteers returning home after two years here. I then stayed with a family in my neighborhood and went to language schoool for a week. And I just returned yesterday from a retreat with the other volunteers. Here are some picture highlights....

One day during my campo homestay, I was walking with my host cousin and snapped this picture. I think my favorite part of my campo homestay was walking around the roads there and taking in the sights and smells of rural Nicaraguan life.

 These are all of the JV´s in Nicaragua at the farewell party for Michael and Jenna.

Here´s me with my community mates! From left to right: Lauren, Patrick, Christine, and me.

After my homestay in Ciudad Sandino, I went back to the campo for a fair with some of the other JV´s.  There was dancing, food, goat raffles, and more!

This is me and Maribel, my host mom and dad´s granddaughter. She´s the absolute cutest.

This is a picture from Laguna de Apoyo where we went on retreat. It was beautiful there! The water was perfectly clear and the lake was surrounded by mountains. The best part of it all: I got to go swimming!

One last thing I wanted to share with you all is a video. While I was interning at the Catholic Student Center at WashU, the other interns and I did a spoof of a youtube video and I find it to be pretty fun and entertaining. I hope you enjoy! And here´s the original video if you´d like to compare:

I am wishing you all a Merry Christmas! If anyone wanted to send me some snow, I certainly wouldn´t object......

Saturday, December 12, 2009

An Address...Finally!

For all of those who have been asking, I finally know my mailing address! I added it on the left.

(And just for the record, I accidentally deleted my first post and had to re-add it so if you´re looking at the dates, the one I just posted is not a new one. One of these days I´ll figure out how to use the Internet.)

Abrazos y Quesillos

Hola everyone! I am writing my first blog post from my new bedroom here in Ciudad Sandino! Since my arrival last Wednesday my life has been a whirlwind full of sweating, trying to speak and understand Spanish, meeting Nicaraguans, riding buses, learning the history of Nicaragua, killing cockroaches the size of corn on the cob, moving into a new house and figuring out what it means to be a Jesuit Volunteer. It’s different being a new place where I don’t know anyone. All of the second year JV’s have been great and the other newbies have been as well; however, I think that it will take some time for Nicaragua to feel like home to me, especially considering the language barrier that I am trying to cross. On Saturday night I finished unpacking and my room now feels like the first place that I can call home. I’m grateful for that. The rest will come with time and with small steps. Paso a paso, right?

On Friday I went to Pajarito Azul for the first time and I loved it! (Pajarito Azul is the home for kids and adults with disabilities where I will be working for the next two years.) I was greeted with so many hugs and smiles that I couldn’t help but feel that I was in the right place. I have often heard that a person needs a certain number of hugs everyday and after being at Pajarito for a mere fifteen minutes I was sure that day in and day out I would be receiving so much love just through hugs.

After being showered with hugs from all of these residents, I went with some future co-workers and a small group of residents on a field trip to a nearby town called Nagarote. We went to Nagarote because we had a particular mission: to eat quesillos, a “tasty” Nicaraguan treat that Nagarote is famous for. I was pretty excited about trying this new food and after walking around town for a few hours I was ready to eat. However, once the quesillo was placed in front of me, I wasn’t as sure of my hunger. Quesillos are essentially an oversized, flavorless string cheese topped with onions and some mayonnaise-like substance (I was later told that it was sour cream but I still have my doubts) and wrapped in a tortilla. Yum!…. not. I stared at the plate and knew I had to go for it so I ate a few bites out of politeness but was unable to eat the whole thing. I’ve been told by the second years that quesillos are an acquired taste so the day that I crave one of those or enjoy eating it, I will let you know. Even though I did not particularly enjoy my quesillo, I had a wonderful day and feel very blessed that I was placed at Pajarito. Although it is still very early on in my JV experience, I think that the people at Pajarito are going to be a constant source of joy for me. I can only hope that it will become a home for me as well.

Before I conclude my first blog entry I wanted to offer a ginormous thank you to everyone back home. My final month in the U.S. was filled with so many thoughtful goodbyes, heartfelt words, and genuine love, all of which I will carry with me as I continue to settle into life here. You all are in my heart…. thanks for everything.