Saturday, May 24, 2008

Prof. Nicole Maria...yup, that´s right...I´m a teacher!


As many know I am an environmental education volunteer...but what does that mean??? Well, here is what I have been up to in my three primary schools....

Building viveros escolares (school tree nurseries)...

Having fun preparing the dirt!!!

One of my 5th grade classes filling up bags with the dirt they prepared.

One of my third graders with a full bag to put in the tree nursery!

98 bags full!!..time to plant the seeds!!....

Complete!...time to water and wait to see if they grow!

Building huertos escolares (school gardens)....

Girl power!! Sifting through the dirt to remove all the rocks!

Planting the seeds!

Waiting for them to grow...

Transplanting to the final garden!!!...83 chile pepper plants!

So that´s what I did my first month or so of teaching! Now I am teaching science classes such as: Parts of a tree, Parts of a flower, Photosynthesis, Natural Resources, Conservation, Extinction of Plants and Animals, Parts of a cell, Contamination of water, air and soil etc...

My third grade class and their beautiful flowers they created during my class ¨Parts of a flower¨

I also have taught all my fifth and sixth grade classes about HIV/AIDS...yea, try explaining that in Spanish! But I have had a lot of practice and have made it into a really fun class where everyone acts out HIV attacking the body!

Hope this gives you some insight into my work!! Let me know if you have any questions!


Friday, April 4, 2008

My house....My Nicaraguan life!!

¡Hola a todos y todas!

Wow, how the time has flown by so quickly! So much has happened in the last three months that I don´t even know where to begin....

For starters, I have been living in my own house for the last two months with my pup. It has been great having my own space and a place to call home! I live about a 10-15 minute walk above the main part of town in a barrio (neighborhood) that is full of houses built during a restoration project. I have a kitchen, a living room area and a bedroom. It is located on a corner so I have a huge backyard! We just built the letrina and bathing area before I moved in.

Check out the pics!....

Moving Day: My host dad helped me move all my belongings to my new house, along with a few other random med from town who had a truck. I thought it was hilarious to see him holding Caramela in the back!

Outside: This is my house from the outside. It is made of concrete, has metal bars on all the windows and a tin roof...pretty solid. Other types of houses in Nicaragua are made of wood, plastic, tin, dirt or whatever they can find.

Kitchen: I have a gas stove which is not very typical. The majority of Nicaraguans cook using a wood fire. The blue jug is full of purified water that I buy to drink.

Living Room: This is my desk/work area where I plan for all of my classes I teach and eat. My host dad made me this gorgeous table! If you look closely, you can see I have on the table pictures of friends and family from the states. All my visitors love looking at you all and asking a million questions!

Living Room: Yup, all I have/need is my hammock! Behind you can see the back door and a barrel which is where I store my water. I have water pipes to my house but we do not have running water all the time. The month of May has been particularily difficult with a water shortage in my town. My neighborhood went 15 days this month without receiving water at our houses. That barrel is all I have to store water to bath, wash my clothes and dishes and clean.

Bedroom: I had to wait 2 weeks to save up enough money to afford a bed. In the meantime I slept in my hammock...yea not so comfortable! The green net is to keep mosquitos and other critters out of my for my dog too as I really don´t need her muddy paws jumping all over! I made my own ¨closet¨by hanging a wooden bar from the ceiling...hey it works for now!

Backyard: This is my patio with the newly built letrina.

Washing clothes: I still have yet been able to buy a lavandero (a concrete wash basin for washing clothes) so I have been washing my clothes on a rock...

...and here is how I dry them!

Bathing: My shower is, well, as you can see a concrete room where I bring in a bucket of water and a pan to pour the water over my head. Usually pretty cold water but it´s like an outdoor shower and feels pretty good when the sun is shining above!

So there´s a peak into my living conditions in Nicaragua! I think overall living on my own has been good but dealing with the extreme lack of water has been the most difficult. Thank goodness the rainy season is beginning!!!

¡Hasta luego!

Friday, February 15, 2008

Some Pics!

Hello Everyone!!

Sorry that it has been sooooo long since I have written! There just never seems like enough time to do everything on the internet in an hour. Just really quick....
I have been observing classes in my three elementary schools for four weeks now. I taught my first classes last week about the importance of trees and how to construct tree nurseries and gardens. My goal is to have a garden and a tree nursery in each of my schools by the middle of April.

I am also coordinating with two NGOs in my community. Right now we are just in the planning phase but there is a ton of things I could help with.

Here is the beautiful view of my town from a walk to one of my schools! The town is set in the middle of the mountains and you can see the giant Catholic Church in the center.

Here is my puppy, Caramela, at four months old! Getting so big!

Here is my new host mom, Maria Flora, making corn tortillas over the fire they use to cook. She absolutely adores Caramela and loves to feed here anything!

Here is a photo of a typical plate of Nicaraguan food that I eat at least once a day. The rice and beans is called "gallo pinto," the cheese is "cuajada," and home-made corn tortillas!
So I have tried to introduce and teach my families how to make some more typical breakfast foods cause sometimes I just don't feel like gallo pinto for breakfast.

Here is my new host dad, Victor. He makes amazing hand-made furniture and can construct just about anything. He's the coolest....except when he decides to start constructing things with his power tools at 4am!

So here is a little insight into my life right now. Things are pretty busy so I am sorry that I can't update very often. But remember, you can always email me!

Take care!


Thursday, January 17, 2008

Just a little rut in the road!

As many of you know, I was medically evacuted from Nicaragua for surgery. My month of stomach pains turned out to be gall bladder stones. I was sent the following day to Panama to have my operation. Everything went smoothly; the traveling, operation, and, thus far, the recovery. I am recovering here in Panama for the week and hope to be medically cleared to return to Nicaragua very soon! So no more worrying! All is well, and I plan on returning to Nicaragua to finish my service with the same enthusiasm as when I started!

Speacial GRACIAS to all of the Peace Corps staff, in both Nicaragua and Panama, that have taken such great care of me throughout this entire process!

Saturday, December 29, 2007

Mi sitio!

I know everyone has been asking me about my site and wanting pictures, so here are the only three I have right now....This is a typical street on the other side of town from where I live. You can see how the entire town is surronded by moutains.

In the center of town is a gigantic Catholic church (the main religion in Nicaragua) and a basketball court.

Other streets near the park. Only the streets inside the town are paved like this. All other streets leading out of the town to other communities are dirt.

And!!...I think I found a really nice house!! It has an enclosed back yard with some funiture and a stove all for a really good deal!! More on that later!!

Be sure to check the following new entries on my puppy and christmas!

Mi perra...Caramela Belinda!

Name... ¨Caramela Belinda¨

Born.... 10.06.07

Breed...not sure but should be medium size

I finally have some pictures of my puppy!! She still isn´t living with me yet until I move into my new house. I finally found a Veterinarian that I am going to use in Matagalpa and he is able to do all the necessary paperwork that I need to have done to bring her back to the states. The veterinary services are nothing like they are in the states but they should suffice for vaccines and such. If I get her spayed here, I will take her to Managua where there are more veterinary services. I already got her everything she needs and can´t wait to take her home!

Caramela was one of 6 puppies. Here is her (left), her sister, and two brothers. Aren´t they adorable!

Mi Navidad en Nicaragua!

So my Christmas here wasn´t really ¨Christmas,¨ but more of a really wonderful vacation with friends and my first host family! It couldn´t possibly be Christmas anyways without snow, family and a Christmas tree!

First, I met up with other volunteers that I hadn´t seen in about a month at a laguana for swimming. The laguana is basically a large volcanic crater filled with water...and it is gorgeous!

The Laguna!

Here is Emily and I standing in front of the laguana from the cabana that we rented for the night....

....and here is the amazing view from the hammock I got to know quite well!

For the second half of my trip, I went to visit my first host family. It was really nice to see them again and I realized really how much I miss them. It was also really nice to be able to hold a conversation with them without having to stop every two seconds because I didn´t know a word. I can even kinda joke around in Spanish too!

I did want to bring a little American Christmas tradition to Nicaragua. Well, it ended up being a major task to try and find Christmas stockings in Nicaragua (guess I should have thought about that first), but after about 15 stores I found them. I wrote their names with glitter glue (surprisingly easy to find) and stuffed them with goodies. I shared with them the story of Santa Clause and they joked around saying that I was Santa Clause this year!

Carlos (host brother), Yadira (host mom) and Nestor (friend of the family)

For my going away present last time, I bought things to make French toast and they absolutely loved it! So this time, I found stuff to make s´mores, and we cooked marshmellows over the fire on Christmas day! They had a blast with it and it was extra messy cause my graham crackers kinda crumbled in the 4 different buses I had to take to visit them.

Of course, I really missed Christmas in the states, but it was really nice to be with my family and friends here in Nicaragua too! I hope everyone had a Feliz Navidad and wish everyone a Prospero Ano Nuevo!