By Conor Sanchez
February marked six months of us living in Nicaragua, and yet in some ways, it felt like our first real month of work. We started teaching, we moved into a new house with its own kitchen and living area, and we stayed in site for 27 days straight.
Our days were packed with co-teaching, co-planning, meeting with local community members to discuss potential collaboration on future projects, meeting with officials to gain permission on various initiatives, while also continuing to integrate and get to know our region a little better.
Yet again, everything felt like a sprint to the finish line as we worked to get our new place in order, start classes on a good note, and earn our counterparts’ trust and confidence. There were plenty of challenging moments. At one point I wrote in my journal, “Sometimes Peace Corps feels like riding a bull; I’ve never been knocked on my bum harder, but I’ve also never felt a stronger urge to jump back into the saddle again.”
Here’s what February looked like:
Move-in Date: 2/1/15
On the first of the month we moved houses. Our initial arrangement was a great start; we got know our host-family very well, sharing a kitchen to cook meals and spending our evenings either chatting in Spanish or watching Combate – a popular Costa Rican program. The best way to describe Combate is to imagine a show with really, really good-looking people who compete against one another in some of the most bizarre challenges (e.g. one challenge had them running around in circles before having to scarf down a nacatamal and a bowl full of bull testicles as fast as possible).
In the long-term, however, we decided we’d need a little more space to be productive in our jobs as teachers. Our new place, which is in a safe and central location, just down the road from a grocery store, the bus station, the police station, the mayor’s office, and the hospital, gets water pretty much all day and costs about $150 a month. We are very excited to spruce this place up and make it feel more and more like home as time goes on.
English classes taught: 18.
I teach twice a week out in a rural school about 30 minutes outside the city in a village called La Esperanza. On these days I wake up at 5 am to take a 6 am truck out to the village, where I’m teaching seventh, eighth, ninth, and tenth grades. On Wednesdays, Thursdays, and Sundays I teach at a URACCAN, a university that has campuses throughout the department of RAAS, where I teach students anywhere between 19 and 24 years old.
Number of times I had to hitchhike: Once.
Buses coming from the rural community where I teach are pretty sporadic, so I usually have to chill for a while under a makeshift shelter. One time I broke down and hitched a ride back to town.
Number of Soccer Games: 3
One activity I’ve enjoyed most is playing soccer on a local team every Sunday morning. I have a uniform and everything. We’re called TECZEL (named after some local electronics company that sponsors them). It’s in a league called La Liga de Veteranos, Gordos, y Retirados (the league of retirees, veterans, and fatties). It’s a nice way to feel part of the community outside of my teaching circles.
Longest amount of time spent waiting for a meeting to start: 2 hours.
On February 3, with two other English teachers Michaela and I met with the Ministry of Education’s delegate for our municipality to gain permission to start a community of practice for English teachers. The meeting lasted 10 minutes and we decided to reconvene later in the month. That meeting eventually got postponed to sometime in March.
Favorite New Dicho Learned: “No es lo mismo montar a caballo, comer pinolillo, y chiflar al mismo tiempo.”
I’m still trying to think if there is an English equivalent for this saying. It’s used when comparing two situations or tasks, one of which is much more difficult to handle or accomplish than than the other. All I can think of that comes close is “You can’t compare apples to oranges.” If you think of one, let me know!
Books Read: Sadly, just one.
- Adrift by Steven Callahan, a personal memoir by a sailor who survived for 76 days adrift on the Atlantic Ocean in a life raft. I don’t why but I’m suddenly obsessed with books like this.
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