Enough clutter. Enough confusion. Enough complications.

19 May 2011

Last year at this time I was... in Nicaragua.

For the last year I have been wandering through life in Nicaragua. In a speech I gave at the end of training, I said:

During these twelve weeks we have shared much. We have tried new food. We have learned new words and new skills, both for life and for our work. But not for a single moment did we learn, not for a single moment did we struggle, succeed, fail, or live— alone. There was always support, community, and assistance.

Well those twelve weeks have stretched into a year and I feel it is only right take this time to acknowledge some of that support. My two host families— first in Nandasmo and then in Jicaro— obviously deserve a big thank-you. The same can be said of my PCV friends, from Rio San Juan to Jinotega and from Chinandega out to the RAAS and of all my Nicaraguan friends here in site. My real family back in the states has been wonderful as well. My Dad and brothers came to visit (and Roopa!). My Mom and Grandma fight over sending me things in the mail. And everyone gets together once a week to SKYPE with me. I appreciate it all greatly, just as I appreciate everyone's letters and emails, however trivial the subject matter!

I would also like to call special attention to one companion who has been with me through all my time in Nicaragua: the perro zompopo. Now, zompopops are leaf-cutter ants (See Roopa's post from a few months ago) and perro means dog, but thankfully these guys are not dog-sized leaf-cutter ants... or worse, flying ants... I hate those guys. No, they're geckos (or some other small lizard)!

I remember lying awake one of my first nights in Nicaragua trying to find the source of the strange chirping sound I was hearing. I could also tell a million stories of little lizards jumping off the roof onto my shoulder (or head) just to say hi and make sure I was awake. They're so thoughtful. I love to watch them zip around and chase bugs. For awhile there was a small one living on the water shut-off valve in my yard. I named him Humberto. 

Yesterday this little guy fell into my patio while I was in my hammock and went nuts chasing some little red ants. So thank you perro zompopos for keeping me company and eating things that bite me. You are wonderful listeners, even if you have rather short attention spans. I look forward to another year of friendship and adventure!

And the same to all of you. Thanks for taking this journey with me!

03 May 2011


 I am constantly amazed at the speed and skill with which adobe houses, quite literally, rise out of the ground. While I have spent the last few months bemoaning the heat and the dust, I have really enjoyed watching the wave of construction that has swept across my little mountain municipality during the months of March and April.

Like most things (if not everything) building with adobe can be well done or poorly done. When it is well done the result is both beautiful and durable. It feels more like the reshaping of a piece of land than anything else. A foundation is dug out and squared off, using mostly digging bars to chop through the sun-baked dirt. That same dirt, or dirt from nearby, is then mixed with water (and sometimes a bit of grass) and pressed into molds to form blocks, which are once more baked by the sun. 

After they are dry, the adobe blocks are laid and cemented together with more mud to become a house, usually by the very people who own the land, made the bricks, and are going to live in the house. Later, the walls will be sealed with a layer of cement or “tierra blanca” (a special kind of dirt), and painted with brilliant colors. Once the process gets going it moves very quickly. A piece of land can be empty one week, the next week all the walls of a house are up, and the following week the house has a roof.