Masaya Pictures

>> Sunday, June 10, 2007

This is almost our entire TEFL group... there are 20 of us, so 3 (Irene, Liz, and Sara) are missing.

Looking into the volcano. There was no lava, but it is active with the smoke rising out of the crater.
Some of the other TEFL trainees standing at the edge of the volcano. The guy in the picture is our TEFL trainer... he is incredibly nice and everyone in our group just loves him.
This is us at Volcán Masaya overlooking the blue skies and green trees and grass.
These are just a few of our pictures... as always, you can check out all of our pictures here.


Seeing More of Nicaragua

Before this week, all the trainees have been more or less sequestered to our small training towns except for a trip or two to Managua. This week, however, we got a much-needed change of scenery. First, from Sunday to Wednesday we went on a volunteer visit to get to see the daily lives of TEFL volunteers around Nicaragua. Paul and I got to go together to visit another married couple in Chinandega, Chinandega. Chinandega is in the northwest and is probably comes in at a close second as the hottest place in the universe (second only to the surface of the sun). Despite the heat and the humid sizzling heat after it rained in the afternoons, our trip was really nice. We got to meet a lot of volunteers that live in the department of Chinandega, we got to observe a lot of classes in the volunteers’ schools, we ate a lot of good food (Subway, Pizza Hot, and Eskimo ice cream, for example), and we got to stay in a fairly nice hospidaje (hostel) in a room equipped with two nice fans and cable TV. The other great part of the trip was the transportation: from Managua to Chinandega we got to take an expreso microbus, meaning that it went straight to the destination without stopping a million times along the way to pick up other people. Paul and I were shocked that there were 15 seats in the microbus and 15 people in the microbus and we even had nice upholstery and head rests to enjoy our two-hour trip.

Yesterday, Saturday, we all went to Masaya for a charla (talk) and we got to go to Volcán Masaya. It was fun to see my first active volcano even though we did not see the lava we had been promised. After hiking around the volcano and taking lots of pictures, we went into Masaya to have lunch and walk around and see the city. Masaya is well-known for making hammocks and other furniture items, and there are lots of tourists; I’m a little embarrassed to admit that now after being in Nicaragua for five weeks, I react a lot like Nicaraguans when I see a gringo I don’t know: I can’t help but think to myself, “A gringo! Who is he? What’s he doing here? Does he speak Spanish?” Unlike many Nicaraguans, however, I am able to show some restraint and keep the comments to myself.

This week is back to the same ‘ole Spanish classes, but then Saturday is our site fair where we find out all the sites our group will be sent to for the two years; there are presentations from current volunteers in each of the six departments where we’ll be going, and we get little descriptions of each individual site. Single volunteers fill out preference forms about where they do and do not want to be sent, but I think site placement is usually pretty underwhelming for married couples. Because we have to be in a site big enough for two volunteers (with two separate high schools, for example), the Peace Corps usually already has a site picked out. We might get to express a preference between two sites, but I think Paul and I are both relieved that it’s not going to be as stressful an experience for us as it is for everyone else.

Overall, I can’t believe that we’re entering our sixth week in Nicaragua and that training is already nearly half done. Part of me feels like I’ve been here forever, while another part feels like I just got here. Our Spanish is still making slow but steady progress, and we try to pat ourselves on the back for small victories like successfully being able to fill out a withdrawal slip at the bank (no easy task—they’re very particular about how you fill them out) or asking for and receiving only the vegetables and condiments I want at Subway. Unfortunately, we haven’t yet mastered the art of eavesdropping on nearby conversations in Spanish or comprehending an entire episode of Spongebob Squarepants (Bob Esponja here)… but then again, training’s only halfway done.


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