Settling in to Life in Nicaragua

Moxie ’17 writes:

I woke up early this morning.  I set my alarm for 6:00 a.m. and was ready to go by 6:40 a.m. (it would have been earlier but I spent about 15 minutes lying in bed gathering my strength).  I used my remaining 15 minutes to sit in the entry room, which is basically outside, and to enjoy the morning before it got ridiculously hot.  Afternoons are pretty brutal in Nicaragua, but the mornings are nice and I like to enjoy them.

My host mom dropped me off around 7:00 a.m. as always, and I had a breakfast of gallo pinto (rice and beans) and eggs and ham in a tortilla.  At 8:00 a.m. a large group of adorable children came to escort us to school.  When we got there I went to my classroom where the 3- and 4-year-olds were waiting.  Ivette, my teacher, already had a job for me and I got to work sorting all of the kids´ school work into piles and putting it into their folders.  I wasn´t talking with kids too much but I got a much better sense of what they do on a daily basis by looking at all of their work.  It was a nice insight into their activities.  It was also really cute.  Among other things they have colored ducks and traced their tiny hands.  They color a lot.

As I sat at my little table outside the classroom, various children gathered around me to watch me sort and ask me what I was doing or just  say hello.  I had a couple of conversations and some of the kids who recognized their work took the time to explain it to me.

At 11:00 a.m. the kids packed up their stuff and were picked up by their parents.  When the last one was gone, I sat outside with Lili, Shannon, and Hedaya waiting for lunchtime.  Lili´s host brother came to hang out with us and sat on her lap playing with his plastic dinosaur.  Its name is dinosaurio Rex and it´s his favorite one.  Lunch was good, pretty typical of what we have had so far:  rice, tossed salad, beef in a delicious tomato and onion gravy, French fries, and fresh-squeezed mandarin orange juice.

After we cleared the table and carried the dishes back to the kitchen, we had what has become our obligatory game of hackey sack.  We are getting pretty good.  I still don´t know the appropriate verb.  Did we play hackey sack? Did we hack? I don´t know.  I also took a nap.

At 2:00 p.m. a group of secondary students came to escort us to class.  When we got there the kids were in the middle  going over all the writing they had done since school began in February, so I sat down in an empty desk and took out my journal.  I had just started writing when Margarita came and sat down next to me.  We have became friends, and we started talking.  She said she liked my nose ring and that she wants one.  We bonded over the fact that we both had our belly buttons pierced and spent some time discussing piercings and how they are done.

At 2:30 p.m. Margarita had to go back to her seat for the next period which was spent taking a math test. The problems were written on the board and the kids completed them on their own paper.  I did my best but I´m pretty sure I failed.  Math is harder in Spanish, especially when you don´t speak Spanish fluently.

During recess I ate my chicky cookies and watched a game of hackey sack.  The cookies were pretty good but I had saved them from lunch and they were very melted.

I went back to the classroom after recess but we were all called out into the street for more competencias.  This time we were going up against the older kids and for the most part we lost, but we put up a good fight in volleyball.

After sports we had another encuentro, this time with the 7th grade.  We played what they call Cartero ( Mailman) which is similar to our game Big Wind Blows. It was actually a great time and lasted for almost an hour amidst much laughter and silliness.  Plus they gave us tea and cookies, and Lili and I enjoyed dipping the cookies in the tea.  After the encuentro, we had supper together as usual and ended the day with some hackey sack before heading to our various host homes for the night.

On the walk home I saw a man riding a motorcycle with a woman I assume was his wife sitting side saddle on the back.  She was holding a baby who could not have been more than 6 months old.  This country is different from the US in absolutely every way.  The language is different, social dynamics are different.  I haven´t felt like I was completely inside once since I got here.  Using toilets is different.  They drink juice from bags when they buy them from a convenience store.  Showering is different.  Traffic laws seem to be different, or a least more optional.  General feelings about religion, sex, politics, and gender seem to be different.  Clothes are different.  Even Coke tastes different.

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