Wednesday, November 28, 2012

A Day in Pictures! Nicaragua: Part II

They say a picture is worth a thousand words.  
Well, how about a slew of them?

 Lauren and I on the plane to Managua!
 MAT Group at the airport after customs - we're a good-lookin' bunch!
 Squeezin' in hardcore on the bus to the hotel...
 Making lunch for the kids at school #1...
 Part of their playground...
 Classrooms in school #1
 Making lunch and then servin' it up!
 Walking to the University...
Art murals in the city of Managua...
 The #2 school we went to see - SUCH a contrast!  This is basically a charter school...
 Second school playground area #1....
 With some of the students...
 Dimelo Cinco!

 Coke Zero at the Market? Yes, please!
 Market Scavenger Hunt Success...
With Daniel and Katelyn at Hotel #2 in Matagalpa!
 Last day of preschool celebration!
The younger kids at school #2!

Hope your enjoy... To read more about day two, click HERE to see the blog I wrote for my class today!

Song of the Day: Senseless by James Fauntleroy = AMAZING.  There's also a version by David A.... just FYI.  Enjoy!

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Siesta, Fiesta!!! Nicaragua: Part 1

Just sing the entry title above to the tune of R Kelly and Jay Z's "Fiesta" and you'll get a flavor for my first day in Nicaragua...

Yep.  I'm in freakin' Nicaragua.  Nicaragua!!!

It's painfully beautiful.  It's dirty.  It's busy and loud.  It's still and quiet.  It's a mix of emotions as your drive through the streets.  I was pleasantly surprised in some ways by things that I saw and am still in a mild state of shock by other things.  I would like to preach that I'm not naive, but in some ways... I am.  When it comes to foreign countries that are poor and on the third-world spectrum, I am somewhat naive.  I believe that most are until they see things for themselves and experience a piece of the third-world culture.

Today we went to help at the schools sponsored by the NicaHope foundation.  Well, help is probably an overstatement, because we merely were helping hands in serving the kids lunch and cleaning the kitchen/cafeteria a bit and they didn't exactly need us there to make that happen.  We were more present to observe and take note of the resources available and the culture surrounding the school.  We're visiting two more schools tomorrow, so it'll be interesting to compare and contrast.

Taking a step back, breakfast was rice and beans fried up together, eggs with peppers, onions, and tomatoes (amazing!), mixed fruit (fresh watermelon, pineapple, and the best papaya ever) and toast with melon jelly - surprisingly good.  It was pretty bomb.... Back to the important stuff.

After our visit to the schools we went back to the homestead for NicaHope and talked more in depth about their organization and what they have done for Nicaraguans and their schooling opportunities.  They began in 2008 and have grown from 5 workers to 24 since then, and TONS of kids.  We also had the opportunity to buy jewelery from their after-school program, made from "trash" found in Nicaragua - i.e. soda cans, wire, paper, stones, etc. They have gone from 10 kids to 100 in two year's time!  I spent a bit more there than planned, as it was more expensive than things I would even typically buy in the US, but I justified it by saying it was for a very good cause - and rightfully so, as it goes to help these kids and the foundation.  We aren't suppose to give money out to kids or people on the street, so I figure it's my way to give back.  There is literally only so much I'm allowed to do, so buying gorgeous "trash" jewelery sounded pretty amazing to me.

After NicaHope stuff we came back to the hotel for lunch and a mini-siesta.  Lunch was rice and the smoothest, best re-fried beans of my life, steak with pico de gallo salsa, some rice/pineapple drink (not my thing - I tend to not be fond of rice drinks), and bread... well, they had fresh tortillas, but I was last to the table and they were gone by then.... Tomorrow I'm gettin' my hands on one of those.  Haha! 

In the afternoon we headed to the Universidad (University) de Nicaragua for a lecture series on the history of Nicaragua.... Now, usually I'd be bored out of my mind because half lecture style learning is not my thing.  It's not the information, but the presentation of the information.  However, this guy has a great style to him and was an exceptional giver of information... 90% I was highly engaged in what he was saying.

Highlight Notes from Lecture:
 - Traditional clothes and behavior has faded out because it's not in "self-interest" to be IDed as indigenous.  Example --> Two people could speak the Rama dialect (originated in Nicaragua) two years ago and now it's unknown if more learned or the language has died... The Sumos language is likewise almost gone.
 - Some indigenous people (on the Atlantic side) are still trying to succeed from time to time.
 - On the pacific side, the shores are full of creoles, garifonas, and mestizos - black, slave trade individuals who either escaped from slavery or overthrew their boats.
 - They are self-dependent with rice and pretty much beans. They have coffee being exported all the time, and also grow cotton, corn, sesame seeds, and have amazing fishing up North. The surplus corn the US kept giving then Nicaraguans to sell in the 80s actually caused a million issues because they could no longer get money for their own goods and it hurt their economy.  Sometimes I wonder how much America is helping when they think they are...?  Not everywhere, but sometimes...
 - Conservatives are loyal to Spanish traditions of political culture and trade, and liberals will buy from anyone.  That's what defines them generally.
 - In 1856, an American by the name of Filibuster burned a city in the South and declared himself President and English the official language.  This did NOT stick- obviously.
 - Almost 80% are living below the poverty line....
 - The Literacy Campaign in the 80's brought the illiteracy level from 50% to 12.9% in 5 months!!!
 - The presidents of the past are automatically on the supreme court, and they are immune from everything... To vote them out it takes a ridiculously high number of votes.
 - 98% of kids fail the college entry exam now...
 - 1.3% birthrate and life expectancy around 72% - There are more dependents working now, but in 3-4 decades they fear this will not be the case.

QUESTION TO THINK ON: Do you think corruption in politics is possible more readily because media is not as accessible, and the media there is is only run by one side  -the Sandistas? 

Following the lecture on campus, we all walked back to our hotel (about 5-10 minutes away), taking pictures of some murals along the walls as we went... The graffiti here is typically in mural form and carried some deeper political or social meaning.  I believe that's what a great majority of ALL graffiti in mural form is about... it's the crap words spray-painted here or there that I detest.  Mural art (graffiti or not) is simply gorgeous to me.  They use rather bright colors and poignant messages - I enjoy art in all forms.  On that note, I plan to look for some piece of art to bring home at the market tomorrow... here's to hopin' I find a good one.

We went on a bus tour of Managua after we arrived back at the hotel, but it was fairly dark by the time we reached downtown area.  Thus, we'll be going back to do some walking around and picture taking another day.  Well, in the safer parts... It was interesting because we weren't allowed to have our windows open on the bus for safety reasons (along with people trying to sell us a million and one goods - especially since we're white) and we are really visible to people here.  We just have to be cautious and smart.  Anyway, we saw some amazing statues, a giant cathedral, a Nicaraguan fair, and the slum areas... It was really cool, and highly humbling. 

We came back to the hotel eat dinner (rice, fish, papas fritas (fries - with ketchup!), and cooked veggie mix that was pretty bomb.  I tell you what, I don't care what anyone else says, I'm lovin' the food... might just be me, but I'm a happy girl in the stomach department.  After dinner I chilled for about an hour and then did the "unthinkable" in this hot, humid city... I went running.  I know, I know... I do it a lot - still hate it.  I've determined I'll never love it, even if there are MOMENTS of small enjoyment in the process.  I just prefer other forms of exersise.  I love dancing, Zumba, lifting weights, and the elliptical... I just hate pure running or jogging.  HOWEVER, I did it - and felt great after.  Sweating like mad makes my skin clear and feel really nice...  I did some jump stuff, squats, and lunges after, and then took an amazing shower.  Haha!

Other Notes:
 - The ants here are HUGE with massive bums... it's slightly intimidating.
 - The first night riding here from the airport we all crowded on this tiny bus with all our luggage and barely fit, which was pretty entertaining... At least it was air-conditioned!  (As are our hotel rooms - thank goodness!)
 - Trash is everywhere in the streets.  Everywhere.  It's pretty weird thinking about actually just littering like that without a second thought - bizarre to me.
 - The dogs remind me of how Nicole and Amber described them in Argentina - ridiculously skinny, starving, running wild in the streets with no particular owner, flee-biting, and full of disease... It's VERY sad to me.
 - People not only try to sell you things on the side of the road, but IN the road.  They walk down the middle like it's nothing, trying to sell nuts, fruit, water pouches, flowers, or even wash your window.  I've seen all these things before, but not in the MASSIV hoards of people trying to live off of doing those jobs.  EVERY intersection was PACKED with people and handcarts (of donkey-pulled carts) full of items to sell.
 - The whole city is prepping for Dec. 7th celebration "La GriterĂ­a" - a religious event where thousands come to sing to 7 different alters carrying replicas of the virgin Mary and will be rewarded with food, sweets, and small presents from the government.  I wish we were here for it, but it's still cool to see them prep for the event.  It's insane how much is going into the alters decorations...

Day one was a good one here in Managua... I even used a little Spanish!  Muy pequno... but still.  Really, I can not stop thinking in GERMAN!  Weird - huh? I need to hit the sack, because I kinda can't wait for tomorrow... :) 


Song of the Day:  The song within this video is pretty powerful (I think it's called "Hope is Coming," but I have no clue who it's by...), but this also shows a bit more about who NicaHope is trying to help...  Enjoy.

Nica HOPE from Nica HOPE on Vimeo.

Monday, November 12, 2012

Shiz My Friends Say...

Title courtesy of Spencer... :)

It's that time again - get ready for some amazingness to ensue below.

OLD QUOTES (aka: last year):
"That bedazzled Jesus... that's six minutes of my life I can't get back." - Cami

"Knock, Knock..." - Linze
"I don't even open the door!" - Derek

"I'm use to saying it's sacrilegious, Cami..." - Linze

"Then we're gonna flip em' off!" - Cami

"Are we having a special needs Christmas?" - Derek (I think...)

"Your nickname is Panda Express..." - Sue Sylvester
"But I'm not Chinese."
"Neither is the food at Panda Express.  Now, Panda... make it happen." - Sue Sylvester

NEW QUOTES (aka: ones I remember a bit more):
"Right or wrong don't matter in the woods!" - ITW with Kortni...

"Siri, are you gay?" - Kylee, to her phone
"We are talking about you, not me." - Siri
"Are you a lesbian?" - Kylee
"No comment." - Siri

"I think I have herpes..." - Kylee to Siri (her phone)
"Don't apologize." - Siri

"I just said that in the chapel on Sunday!" - Linze

"The last one I always have trouble with and that's thinking..." - Michelle

"If you hurt her, I'll crush your scones." - Aria (from PLL)

"You're like a bad Edward Cullen." - Michelle

"I'm a little wet." - Linze

"I think we're gonna be great friends." - Spence
"Because we'd be gay!" - Kylee

"Here it is - 'Shiz my friends say!'" - Spence

"My eyes are all blotty." - Kylee
"It's a lesbian thing." - Linze

In regards to her instagram name, "It's kkk.... I set myself up for failure all the time." - Kylee

"That's what happens when you're friends with Spencer and a dyke." - Linze

"Thanks for coming!" - Spencer to my mother... at my own house.

"I've heard you have a really pretty... Nice voice." - Kylee
*SUNG* "Thank you!" - Spencer

"God listens to the prayers of lesbians." - Spencer
"He works hard on us." - Kylee (see how quick she is... that's why we're friends.)

"Put it under your crackle." - Lindsey

"I need a knife." - Meech
"Tottie's kids have one." - Karin

"I edit drinking, you edit sex." - Linze

"He really is more attractive eating an apple." - Meech
"I'm gonna practice on the way to work." - Linze

"She needs pinterest." - Linze
"That's really what it comes down to." - Lindsey

"Linze, something bad! A Utes truck!"
- Eliza

"I guess red bull really does give you wings..." - David

"I've never texted a black before..." - Annonymus
"Wow.  First, don't text him that...." - Linze

"No. That one's not funny!" - Linze
"Cause you said it." - Kylee

"Is that how you... you know?" - Lindsey

"If you had some whit sunglasses you could." - Ryan

"Are you bating?" - Spence

"He uses the word toolier..." - Kortni

"If I could just birth a four year old, that would be great... but it would have to just walk out, cause there's no way I'm pushin' that thing!" - Linze

"It had a HUGE rack!" - Linze (about a deer!)

"Brinna is to hot as Linze is to smokin' - check that analogy!" - Yours truly.


Song of the Day:  Of Monsters and Men, "Little Talks."  I adore this song and this band... Love the new find. Enjoy!