By Conor Sanchez
Somebody, at some point before I started Peace Corps, told me to get ready to have a lot of free time on my hands. With the exception of maybe the week of Christmas and New Years, this couldn’t have been farther from the truth.
Things started out tranquilo, passing New Years in Laguna de Apoyo and hanging out with our counterparts here and there for coffee and lunches, but then we headed to Managua for Access Camp, which was insane but awesome. Then, we returned to site for two days before turning right back around again to attend an In-Service Training up north in Matagalpa at an amazing coffee estate called Selvra Negra, where we froze our buns off in 65 degree weather (yes, that’s extremely cold for us now that we’ve acclimated to 95 F with 100% humidity). We spent two nights in Managua before heading back to our old training community to receive a weeklong language workshop in Spanish. Now we’re back in Nueva Guinea, where we are anxiously waiting to start teaching as the school year begins.
January has come and gone by so quickly, I hate to think my two years here will zoom by like this. If that is the case, I’ve decided to post a review of at the end of every month giving some quantifiables on what happened. If for nothing else but to help myself reflect on what went down and how I can do things better the following month, I’ll try and post this on the last day of every month. Here’s what January looked like:
Miles Traveled: 870 miles by bus, car, and taxi.
Number of times we woke up to take a bus at 2:45 am: 3. Unfortunately, this is the only time an express bus from our site to the capital leaves. Yes, it’s as bad as it sounds.
Weirdest Food Eaten: Juevos de Torro (admittedly, I didn’t know what I was eating at the time. The soup was also kind of an odd mixture: lobster, shrimp, and…bull testicles)
Favorite New Nica Dicho: Camarón que se duerme se lo lleva la corriente. Translation: The shrimp that falls asleep is swept away by the current. English equivalent: You snooze, you lose.
- Farewell to Arms by Ernest Hemingway
- Life of Pi by Yann Martel
- On the Road by Jack Kerouac
- Harry Potter Y la Piedra Filosifal
- Capital in the Twenty-First Century by Thomas Picketty
*Bus rides provide ample reading time…
Best Articles Read: Stop Trying to Save The World: Big Ideas Are Destroying International Development by Michael Hobbes, The New Republic, gives a great perspective on how and why international development faces so many challenges (what he calls the cycle of success-upscale-failure syndrome). Two great quotes from this piece; “If rich countries want to solve the problems of poor ones, they’re going to have to spend time getting to know them,” and “International development: The arguments against it are myriad, and mostly logistical and technical. The argument for it is singular, moral, and, to me anyway, utterly convincing: We have so much, they have so little.”
If You Shouldn’t Call it the Third World, What Should You Call It? by Marc Silver, NPR, “Some people use the term “Majority World” – a reminder to those of us in the West that we are but a very small minority on the globe. According to World Bank statistics, 80 percent of humanity lives on $10 or less a day.”
Why Inequality Matters: Capital in the 21st Century Review by Bill Gates. If you don’t want to read Thomas Picketty’s 700 page book on income inequality, at least read Bill Gates’ response on his blog, which pretty much sums up Picketty’s arguments and raises some good counterpoints as well.
How Nonemployed Americans Spend Their Workdays: Men Vs. Women by Josh Katz, The New York Times, – this was interesting to see especially after constantly hearing how big a role machismo plays in Latin America. It’s obvious that the U.S. has some work to do as well.
Is Bilingualism Really An Advantage? by Maria Konnikova, The New Yorker. Short answer: yes. But give the whole article a read.