Local News

>> Thursday, August 30, 2007

I decided to check up on news from my hometown in the states and I found this article that seemed to be of interest since the power is always out in downtown Masaya during the day. No joke, from 7 am until 2 pm the power is out and there's definitely no article in El Nuevo Diario about how the three people at the relojeria near the market were inconvenienced. The last guy in the article's got the Nicaraguan spirit, though. He would fit right in.

Blackout interrupts workday downtown

Amos Bridges

Work ground to a halt when an electrical transformer caught fire downtown Wednesday.

Many downtown businesses and city and county offices went without power for more than two hours in the afternoon — the second time in less than two weeks for some.

Power was restored just after 3 p.m., but several government offices remained closed because employees had been sent home for the day.

The blackout, which began about 12:20 p.m., had been expected to last into the early evening as City Utilities crews made repairs to a substation that had been damaged by lightning Aug. 20.

The outage caused significant disruption at area businesses, with many closing early. "You just realize how much you rely on technology," said Andy Marquart, museum manager for the Discovery Center, 438 St. Louis St. Marquart said only two families were touring the center when the lights went out, but the outage still caused frustration for the visitors.

The outage disrupted a speech by Gov. Matt Blunt, who was at the Springfield Expo Center to announce grants to assist several area towns with downtown revitalization. After several seconds of darkness, some lights came back on, but the sound system did not — forcing Blunt to raise his voice to be heard by the 300 attendees.

Store owners on Boonville Avenue adapted, as well. Edgar Hagens, owner of Rock's Dress Out Fashion and Jewelry, said the outage didn't bother him at all. "It was kind of a dead time — I just got a little hotter," he said. "I had to take my shirt off."


Gringo's Paradise

>> Sunday, August 19, 2007

Last weekend was our first anniversary and since we aren't yet allowed to take vacation days, we thought that we'd be able to celebrate it by eating some Papa John's pizza (there's one not too far away), but we decided instead to spend a day in Granada soaking up the gringo amenities.

Granada is a really nice colonial city that's just a 30 minute bus ride away from Masaya. There are a lot of ex-pats that live there, and as a result, a pretty cosmopolitan atmosphere with tons of great restaurants and places to go. We walked around a little bit and then we ate at a restaurant with some good vegetarian options. The first vegetarian menu I saw in Nicaragua looked something like this:

Chicken and ribs on the vegetarian menu is about what I've come to expect, but instead I had a great veggie kabob and then we polished it off with some hummus and gelato. Here are some pictures from Granada:

Most of the buildings in Granada are painted very bright and festive colors, including the cathedral in central park:
Here's Holly modeling the best (only) hummus and pita we've had in Nicaragua:
This is the best anniversary present ever (and my new accidentally super short hair):
 The Lago de Nicaragua:
Here's a really old and not at all festively painted church:
Since then, we also experienced and survived the biggest test of our marriage yet: we shared just one copy of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows and made it all the way through without losing an ear in the struggle.

You can see more pictures from Granada and other stuff here.


House Search

>> Friday, August 03, 2007

Holly and I managed to get our Fridays off together, so we spent an unfruitful morning searching for houses. We've both been walking all around the city and have just had to ask little old ladies sitting on their front porch if there are any houses close by and they will say, "No, there's nothing like that around here" only to tell you five minutes later as you pass back by that the house across the street is for rent but the person who owns it lives in Costa Rica and is only here the second Tuesday every other month. There are a couple of houses that we're interested in, but we haven't seen the insides yet because in one the key is lost and the other's owner is impossible to track down. The other day I walked around the big dirty market (where there are hundreds of vendors) looking in vain for a person named Silvia who might have a house that is for rent.

I'm just wasting some time before I have to go to the bank. In Jinotepe (my training town) there was always a guard right by the ATM, but here there's no such luck. The other day I had to get some money and there was a woman standing by the machine just looking at it. I went up and put my card in and she was still just staring at me/it so I tried to shield the numbers to I put my PIN in, but she wouldn't take the hint so I finally had to say, " Por favor no mire" (Please don't look), which worked, but her 3 year old son still had his hands all over the money slot so I had to fight him for my money. I was lucky that time, but I can't keep puttingchavalos in the hospital just to get a couple hundred cords (That's a joke. Neither I nor the Peace Corps support violence against children. In fact it's discouraged). It seems like things that are happening all the time and I just think, "This would never happen in the US," but there's not much I can do but deal with it.

Last but not least, we got a post office box, so anyone who's eager to send a care package can send it to:

Paul/Holly Ragan
Apartado Postal #59
Masaya, Nicaragua
Central America

This is right before I left Jinotepe--that´s another volunteer Nicole on the left and my next door neighbor Gloria on my right:

This is Kyle and me after swearing-in:
This is our new host family's dog Lucy. She is exactly as frightening as she looks:
This is our family's puppy. Fortunately, she is exactly as cute as she looks:


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