One of my best friends asked me what I actually do here every day and I realized that some of you might find this interesting. Because I am still in my first three months at site my days don´t vary much so here is a basic breakdown:
7:00 am – Wake up to chickens, monkeys and a three year (usually) crying.
7:30 am – Go for a run on our road/obstacle course. Dodge large rocks, cow pies and angry dogs. Try not to twist my ankle. I am proud to say that I have only fallen once and it was only because a herd of cattle got in my way.
8:30 am – Cold shower from a broken tube in our wall. I’ll be honest, cold showers are what I most dreaded about joining the Peace Corps, they used to make me cry, but now I relish them. Sometimes I take three a day. On a more somber note Phil my froggy friend has long since disappeared. I suspect Vivi or my shampoo to be the culprit.
9:00 am – (Notice that I am ready for the day in under thirty minutes) Coffee and breakfast. The most common breakfast here is gallo pinto which is basically the black beans and rice from yesterday fried up with some cilantro, chile, and tomato. It’s actually delicious and keeps you full all morning. However, after finding a cockroach in mine one day I usually try to opt for tortillas with eggs or empanadas filled with beans or cheese.
9:30 am – In general there are three things I do with my mornings: laundry, go to Upala, or visit the school.
- Laundry is by far my least favorite as it is a whole morning activity of washing, rinsing, hanging, etc and I never feel like my clothes are truly clean. Also, it leaves my hands super dry and I’m already down one great sundress because of my complete ineptitude in almost all tico household chores.
- If I need to go to the bank, grocery store, print, or deal with the municipalidad I take a 45 minute bus to Upala which is our nearest ‘big city.’ I think the city center is about 7,000 people. Inevitably wherever I go they will stare at me and then tell me I am in the wrong office and send me to another just so I can walk around the city in circles sweating until I end up where I was in the first place.
- I spend a lot of time hanging out at the school here because we have a really great school director who loves me for some reason and the teachers are very welcoming. Plus the kids always hug me a lot and I love hugs. We usually talk about what projects I could do with the school or they ask me questions about English.
12:00 pm – Lunch time! I’ve slowly been moving our household away from the dependence on rice and beans to more variety of vegetables – and lots of fresh eggs. Yum!
1:00 pm – My afternoons involve teaching English, visiting houses, conducting interviews, attending committing meetings, listening to gossip and trying to convince my hosts that I really cannot eat anymore, but thank you very much for the coffee, tortilla, egg, juice, sweet bread, arroz con leche, cookies and fruit. It was all very delicious.
6:00 pm – I usually try to be home about this time because it is completely dark by 6:30 and everyone in town starts to worry about me if they see me out after dark.
7:00 pm – Dinner! Usually the same as lunch.
7:30 pm – I watch Nicaraguan news and soap operas with my family because the only channels our antenna picks up are Nicaraguan, if that gives you any idea of our geography. It really makes no difference to me, though I think they are more dramatic.
8:30 pm – I try and work on my diagnostic at least an hour everyday and then read until I go to bed. If Viviana’s 37 year old boyfriend comes over I put on my headphones so I can’t hear them passionately making out on the couch and maybe take a Benadryl to go to sleep faster.
And that’s it!
Life here is a little different than the suburbs of Gresham or downtown DC and I went through a pretty serious rough patch – change is always hard and this has been a BIG change – but overall I would consider myself happy.
I learn something new every day and am constantly having experiences that I could have never dreamed up. Mostly I am learning about myself, confronting my shortcomings and discovering new strengths. It’s an eye opening, if sometimes challenging, process.