Nearing the end of training

American flag, papelografo style

American flag, papelografo style

So a little more than another month has passed and so here I have another update.  I have just received my site assignment so now I have a much better idea about where I will be and what I’ll be doing.   My work will likely be comprised of teaching the emprendedurismo (entrepreneurism) curriculum in the classes, teaching computer classes, working in cross-sector projects, including HIV/AIDS charlas, English/business classes for those involved in the tourism industry, among others.  One of the major drawbacks I have heard about Corinto is that it is said to be incredibly hot, especially in the dry season.  Nevertheless, I had chosen it as one of my preferred sites and am very excited to have received it (Corinto was also the most requested site for SMB 53 volunteers).  Last week I had the opportunity to visit the site again, meet my new host family, counterparts and the like.

A number of trainees have already left training, close to the 10% average the Peace Corps had told us.  It’s really very unfortunate, especially given the fact that one of the trainees was part of my group and would most certainly have been a very effective volunteer.  The remaining trainees all seem very determined, despite the unusual levels of illness we have seen in our group (4 people have already gotten Dengue!) and the difficulties encountered.

My training time has allowed me to get a taste of the flexibility that will be necessary as a volunteer.  In the high school in which I am teaching we have had close to a month without having the opportunity to teach a class.  Our counterpart teacher fell ill with some type of grave stomach illness, followed by a canceled class due to a field trip to a volcano, followed by vacations, followed by my own site visit.  As such I haven’t had the opportunity to teach many classes, and I have taught no classes with the teacher who I am supposed to be capacitating.

The youth group has been equally troublesome with a number of changes in membership and difficulties in maintaining attendance.  We had one great success in which the members made the jalea de mango (mango jam/preserves) sold it, and decided to save the earnings for reinvesting in another larger/better batch.  We’ve moved on to creating a more attractive packaging with a name, brand image, and a different packaging material.  We hope this will allow us to justify a higher price.

My language is progressing well, I think, and both Nicas and the Peace Corps have told me as such.  There are still times in which I feel lost, especially when there is a conversation going on around me, of which I am not particularly involved, it becomes difficult to jump in, or understand what is going on.    However, I am having an easier time understanding the children in my house and the Spanish ‘baby-talk’ like ‘mimtilas chón, mimtilas’ by which he means ‘mentiras John, mentiras’ (not true John, not true).

I’m still having a hard time adjusting to the constant noise.  Perhaps it is because I have such a large family of different ages but it seems the house is never quiet.  I wouldn’t mind my sister or grand-mother listening to TV extremely loudly on the other side of a thin wall late at night if the little kids weren’t up at the crack of dawn playing and screaming their heads off, or vice versa.  At least we ate the rooster…

The social life has been very enjoyable as well.  Usually it has been initiated by other trainees, but not without the presence of local Nicas (although not my family usually, they don’t go out much).  For the 4th of July I made a little flag out of a papelógrafo (pictured above) and we went down to the Laguna de Apoyo for a little swimming and relaxation, even if it rained most of the day.

I have had a pretty frustrating experience trying to find a day planner here.  I went to every stationery store in Masatepe without any luck.  I even went to the big Gomer (which is more or less equivalent to a Staples but smaller) in Masaya and it couldn’t even be found there.  I’ll probably have more luck in Managua if I get the chance but it’s kind of crazy.  Everyone told me it was too late in the year to buy one.  One store told me that they didn’t have any but would be getting some soon.  When I asked her when she said she couldn’t remember on which day exactly the supplier would be coming by.  She didn’t appreciate the irony of the situation.

Watching what I was able to of the World Cup has been a lot of fun here, despite the disappointing performances of the US, Brazil and Honduras.  Even though fútbol isn’t as big here as in other Latin American countries (it falls behind baseball and boxing in popularity) you can still here the vuvuzelas coming from everyone’s house as you walk through the streets during match time.

In my town the Nicas don’t seem to do very much for fun.  There are a couple of arcades that the younger kids frequent (generically referred to as ‘nintendos’) a few bars and a loosely organized soccer league.  But in the home my family tends to either watch TV or sit and chat.  They don’t really play games or participate in ‘activities’ in a strict sense.  At my request, my brother did teach me a Nica card game, desmoche, which is basically a simple version of Gin Rummy, but still pretty fun.  I taught my sister Go, but I think it bored her.  I should try again with hackey-sac when the weather clears up, we’ve been hit with the remnants of a number of tropical storm, nothing dangerous just lots of a rain.

It’s hard to come back from site visit and go back into the training routine.  But with only two weeks left the rest of the time should more or less fly by.  I had a really positive experience in my site visit and I’m really excited to get set up and started there.