Tuesday, August 28, 2007

I'm back in Langley

Well it's good to be home with my family, but I already have plans to return to Nicaragua in 4 years with my daughter. Next time, we'll also visit some other Central American countries.
I met so many wonderful people in Nicaragua, loved learning about the culture, learned quite a bit of Spanish and I've been asked to be godmother to a baby that will be born in 3 weeks in Granada. What an honour! So thanks for your interest in my adventures and let me know if I can follow your adventures.

Monday, August 6, 2007

My husband, Mike, joins me for 6 days

Mike arrived last Thursday morning and I`ve hardly let him rest since!!! From the airoport, we went directly to Mombachu Volcano
to join students from my language school for an afternoon hike around the top of the volcano. Fortunately it was a clear day and the view was incredible. It helped Mike to get oriented. He kept up pretty well considering that he had only slept 2 hours on the plane the night before!After our hike we went to Granada and took his bags to my place and rested a bit before dinner. It was nice and breezy on the volcano but the heat in the city was a bit of a shock for him! After dinner we walked around town a bit, bought some cakes for a farewell party at our favourite nightclub and at 9:30pm we met everyone at Cafe Nuit for great dancing and visiting!Friday, Mike came to my last class at Casa Xalteva and he learned quite a bit of Spanish! At the break we bought some snacks to eat with my teacher Fernando, who has been great! Mike is impressed with what I`ve learned.

It was sad to say goodbye. It was like a family there. After lunch, we walked to Calita Feliz where I have been volunteering. Mike brought some hairdressing books and material generously donated by my hairdresser Karen and we took them to the woman that teaches hairdressing to young girls. She was soooo happy to get the material!!!Mike also taught the English lesson, which was fun! Then we went for a refreshing swim at the pool! After our swim we took a bag of clothes to Rena and her extended family. They really appreciated the gifts!

Saturday morning, we got on a local bus( quite a hot experience) and a shared taxi to get to the city of San Juan del Sur. We stayed in a lovely Inn and took a shuttle to the surfing beach for the whole afternoon! Beautiful beach andit was fun to watch surfing! For dinner we went to a beachfront seafood restaurant. My soup had every kind of seafood! Delicious! Coming back to Granada wehad a full afternoon and evening visiting friends for lunch and dinner. Incredible hospitality!!! They have nothing and yet both family went out of their way to feed us wonderful Nicaraguan food and entertain us with their daughters dancing and teaching us to dance. One of the two girls dancing is Gabrielle`s age and is going to write to her.The picture of us sitting outside a house is at Rena`s house. She had the table all set for us and when I went in her room there was water all over the floor. I asked her about it and found out that her roof was leaking in 2 of the 3 rooms. Her bed was soaked and there were pots everywhere to catch water. Today, Mike is out shopping with her uncle to buy the material to replace part of the roof. He went with his dictionary since neither of them speeks the others language.

These people have so little ! The place where we had lunch, her husband had malaria and his whole body was covered in a terrible rash but they had no money to buy the medication needed. We found out that $20 would help him alot so that was nice to be able to help.

Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Living in paradise for 4 days

These are some of my pictures from Little Corn Island in the Atlantic Ocean, off the east coast of Nicaragua. I went with 3 girls from my language school in Granada and we all LOVED the island!
When we checked in in Managua, we were given a boarding pass that was a real board! What a joke ! So, we took a photo! We flew to Big Corn Island and then went 8 miles on a motor boat in the open ocean to Little Corn Island. What a paradise! No cars! One main sidewalk and then paths that led to various places. The whole island is 3km square. The locals speak Spanish and Creole, which is sort of like
English.We were met by a woman from Casa Iguana and a guy with a wheelbarrel for our bags. We walked on a path through the jungle to the other side of the island, where there was a lovely breeze and an incredible view. Wow! We loved our accommodation. We had our own quaint cabin and then there was a central lodge to hang out in during rain storms or where we could eat breakfast and dinner. At dinner we all ate together(30 in all on the first night) and we were from all around the world!

My 3 companions wanted to sleep on the beach when we arrived so I went exploring by myself! At the far end of the beach, a native islander, Frank; came out of the forest and in creole, asked me if I wanted to have a coconut. I said that I didn`t have money on me but that didn`t bother him. I finally said sure and thus began our ¨walkabout¨, which was a 2 1/2 hour walk around the island. I got my coconut and drank its juice, ate mangoes and guavas, swam in the oceon, walked through the jungle, climbed a high tower(very scary!) to have a great view of the whole island and was shown town from one end to the other. Then Mr. Frank walked me home and was rewarded with a $10 bill that he had suggested numerous times would be an appropriate reward for a nice island visit. I agreed so I didn`t even bargain(which I do love to do!) Our time on the island was so relaxing! Snorkeling(beautiful colourful fish and coral!), reading, playing games and doing puzzles, visiting, swimming, dancing, eating, taking pictures and lots of walking. It was hard to say goodbye to the island on Monday and one of the girls in our group actually opted to stay behind for a few extra days.

Now I`m back in Granada and back to private Spanish classes since John moved on to Costa Rica.
Mike arrives on Thursday and I`m going to keep him sooooo busy for his 5 days here! No surprise for those of you that know me! The lady in orange is Mike`s cousin Jennica`s mother in law, who is Nicaraguan and lives in Portland, Oregon, but happened to be in Nicaragua while I am here. It was great to see her in Granada and Masaya!!! Well, I`m off! Bye!

Thursday, July 26, 2007

Flying to the Atlantic Coast and tropical Little Corn Island

I`m off on another adventure at 4am tomorrow morning. We`ll take a taxi to Granada and then a 17 seater plane to Big Corn Island followed by a boat to Little Corn Island. I´m traveling with three beautiful 19 year old girls,one is Canadian, one Brasilian and One British. They will attract alot of attention for sure!!!!Check out where we are staying at casaiguana@mindspring.com. We`ll return to Granada and Mike joins me on Thursday morning. Spanish class continues to go very well. My classmate of this week moves on to Costa Rica next week. We celerated our last day together in class today with cerveza and 3 different pastries.Our little Fiesta!I`m off to a neighbouring city(Masaya)tonight to watch traditional Nicaraguan dances.Bye! love Jennie

Monday, July 23, 2007

Touring Leon and home to Granada

Here are some photos from Leon. The man on the left was our Nicaraguan tour guide and for $5 , he gave 3 of us an amazing 2 hour walking tour of his city, telling us in fairly good English the history of Nicaragua and how it directly affected his life and the direction that his life has taken. He was the son of a sugar cane farmer and never had the opportunity to go to school because he had to work with his father. At age 13 1/2, he was walking home from playing baseball and Somosa soldiers grabbed him and accused him of being a socialist and supporting Sandinista. He was put in jail and tortured for 8 months as they tried to get him to talk, and only allowed to escape when the Red Cross learned about him. He then joined the revolution. Only now at age 40 something is he starting his education. Reagan and the Somosa governments did terrible things to the Nicaraguan people!

While in Leon, I also visited many churches with incredible architecture! For some reason I was unable to sleep in past 6am, so I`d slip out by myself and visit the city while it was slowly waking up. One morning I went to the market and had fun buying fruit for a fruit salad to feed 6 of us, bread, juice and jam. I didn`t know all of the necessary words to communicate my thoughts so they laughed with me as I danced around to make myself understood! This little girl was sleeping near the doorway to our hostel and was so cute! I asked her mom if I could take her picture and then gave mom a little money to help them out.

On Saturday afternoon we went to the beach that you see and played in the waves and collected shells. There were a few surfers and not many tourists for such an incredible place. A few kids came by and sold us necklaces made of shells for a few dollars. We had seafood dinner at a beachside restaurant and had a crazy driving taxi ride home!!!! Today is Tuesday and I`m back in Granada. I have a new student, John from London England, in my class. We have alot of fun and are at the same level, which is very nice! This afternoon we are off on a field trip to Masaya, a city with a huge market and a volcano that we will tour by night! Should be fun! Lunch is ready, so I`m off! Bye! love Jennie

Friday, July 20, 2007

Last minute decision to go to Leon for the weekend

At 1:15pm I decided to join 5 friends from my language school and go at 2pm on a weekend trip to the city of Leon, a university city about 3 hours by bus from Granada, heading north west.We are 40 minutes from the Atlantic Ocean where we will head for a swim and seafood tomorrow night after touring the beautiful churches and museums during the day. Yesterday , after 4 hours of language school, I went to the 5th largest volcano in Nicaragua and hiked for 2 1/2 hours with my own private tour guide who was incredibly knowledgable about plants, flowers, wildlife and history and all in quite good English! In the evening, we had another great dancing evening!I love latin music and dancing! It is beautiful to watch and really fun to try to dance! They also have lots of Spanish songs that everybody in the nightclub sings along with! When I went to Calita Feliz this week to volunteer, I took some bags of hairclips, that were donated, to a hairdressing class for girs. The clipe and elastics were really appreciated and I ended up staying with the group for an hour. They demonstrated a French braiding type of hairdo and then had me try it on one of the girls. We conversed in Spanish the whole time which was quite exciting. They asked if I could help them get hairdressing books with pictures that the girls could see a variety of hairstyles in. Mike can bring them here if you have any. Well I`m off to bed, so bye for now! Jennie

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Pictures from San Juan del Sur, Rena´s home in Granada and city of Katarina

I last wrote on Friday, from San Juan. I have included a photo from the wonderful pool and the kitchen from our fancy villa. The next morning, after an incredible breakfast at the hotel, we checked out and then took a taxi to Coco beach(1 hour away). Unfortunately the road was so washed out that the taxi had to stop 1 1/2 km from the beach and we had to walk the rest of the way. It was very hot and humid and we were dripping by the time we got to the beach. I swam in the ocean in my clothes since I had left my backpack at the hotel(woops!) The sand was wonderful and the waves pushed us around! We relaxed and explored until we got poured on. We arrived back at our taxis pretty wet! Yes, the taxis just hung around and waited. Forrest and I took a taxi back to Granada that night($20 each for a 2 hour taxi drive). The next morning Rena, our house help came. She and I went to market where I bought flowers and a vase for her mother(she chose fake flowers because she could keep the souvenir forever) I also bought chips, rum and coke to take as gifts. Rena had invited me to her home(very simple) for the afternoon. Back at our house, she gave me a cooking lesson(all in Spanish because she doesn´t speak a word of English). After lunch, we taxied to her house. She had invited all of her family to meet Sarah and I but unfortunately neither Sarah nor I knew that Sarah had been invited and Sarah was still in San Juan. There was a beautiful cake and so much wonderful hospitality! My facebook has many pictures from Rena´s home and family. On Monday I went back to volunteer teaching English to kids at Calita Feliz but the kids were too hot to focus on English. Somehow we got into French and I held their attention and the group grew bigger for the next 1 1/2 hours. They wanted to know how to meet friends (particularly the opposite sex!).
Today is Tuesday. My lessons are going well(still private classes!).I´m learning how to use the past tense. This afternoon we went to a village called Katerina that is known for pottery. We went to one workshop for a demo and then tried the wheel ourselves.Fun! My pot was a disaster. Then I bought a ton of pottery! The shops around town were very colourful! Bye for now! love Jennie

Friday, July 13, 2007

On the Atlantic coast at San Juan Del Sur

We left Granada at 3pm and traveled by 2 local buses(3 hours) to this lovely laid back seaside town. This area is surfers paradise! We will explore the beaches tomorrow! I will try to photograph others with surfing talent. Six of us decided to splurge and we are staying at this incredible resort villa for $40 each. It has 3 pools, an incredible view and our villa is to die for with a kitchen that I want to take home!!! Two girls decided to stay at a hostel and we went to meet them while we waited for our pizza to be delivered. While we were gone, the electricity went out, as usual, but thankfully there were candles everywhere.so we found our way around. I was the only one who opted for a candlelight swim in the pool(their loss!) and the kind pool boy escorted me back to my faraway villa when my candle was extinguished by the rain. The swim was soooo nice! We had a lovely evening discussing politics,religion and education and then walked the 2 girls back to town. I got great sunset pictures that I will post soon. Tomorrow lets hope we have good beach weather. Apparently we have a free breakfast and we'll try out the pools before we check out at 12pm
Bye for now!

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Spanish classes begin

I had almost finished a nice long entry and just lost it, so this will be a shorter version. I just finished day 2 of my classes and I have a wonderful instructor named Fernando. We have covered so much in 2 days and since I appear to be the only one at my level, I have a private class! Lucky me! Today we learned the simple future and past tense so maybe I can start to put together sentences that make more sense. I still find, however, that even with broken Spanish I have been able to have quite good discussions with some of the women and also with my instructor. School is from 8am til 12am, with a short break in the middle. By the end, I am pretty brain dead. In the afternoon, the school organizes outings. Yesterday we went on a boat ride around the islettas(islands). Many of the wealthy locals have built fancy homes on these little islands, sometimes one home per island. There was one teeny island that had 3 friendly monkeys that the guides fed and the monkeys put on quite a show for us.We picked up some delicious pizza for dinner and then went for another relaxing swim at the pool. We even felt cool when we got out of the pool, which happens very rarely! Today we opted out of the outing so that we can go to volunteer at a centre that provides free activities for kids in a poor part of town.
I am feeling pretty exhausted today. We have hardly stopped since we got here and I have yet to have a good sleep. I think I´ll try to have a low-key evening!
A group of students are planning a trip to the ocean for the weekend and I want to go for Friday night and all day Saturday. Its a 4 hour local bus trip one way to a place called San Juan del Sur. On Sunday I plan to attend the Spanish Baptist Church and then go back to the home of one of our maids for an afternoon visit(solomente en espaƱol). This maid, Rena, visited us yesterday and during our conversation, told me that she couldn´t read because she couldn´t see well. I was so happy that I had brought an extra pair of reading glasses that I was able to give her. I wish that you could have seen her face when she could see clearly.
Life is good here! Thanks for all of your wonderful messages! I hope that you are also having a great summer! I am constantly reminded here that what is important in life is not what we own, but what we have in our heart. These people have big hearts!
love Jennie

Sunday, July 8, 2007

adventuring out of GRANADA

Today we went to the cathedral for church. It was a special service for catechism and the bishop was there along with over 1000 people. Its always amazing how you don´t need the language to be able to follow in the catholic service. The singing was wonderful! Then we drove 1/2 hour, squished in a little car(7 of us!) to a lake that is in a volcano crater. Just after we arrived we watched a huge storm move in! Wow it came fast and hard! We decided to go swimming in the pouring rain(lovely warm water!) which was fun until thunder and lightening started and we swam to shore so fast!!!!!!! On our way home we stopped to visit the home of the other weekend househelp( Rena) so that I could give her 2 beautiful blankets that were handmade with love and sent with me to give away. Rena´s sister has a 2 year old and is 7 months pregnant. 3 families live in a 3 tiny bedroom house with dirt floors, cardboard walls inside and plywood walls outside, and a tin roof and yet you couldn´t meet friendlier people. I also gave the kids and father clothes. They were robbed recently and all of their clothes were taken. Thankyou again for the generous donations and let me extend the thanks that you are getting from grateful hearts here! The Nicaraguans are beautiful people!!!!!

Saturday, July 7, 2007

Sabado in Granada

More relaxing day today. What a joy it was to give away some of your donations to our cleaning lady and her 2 grandchildren! The children`s mother was murdered when the kids were babies and they have been raised by grandma, the sole money earner in her family, which means that they live on $100 a month.They were so excited to get clothes, a nerf football, barbies, a notebook, a paint set and stickers. They kids are helping to teach us Spanish.We also went to market with my host mother(that`s her with me). We held on tight to our belongings. Very exciting! While we were walking to the pool, we got poured on!!!! We didn`t care because it had been so hot and humid that sweat was pouring off my face! We had fresh squeezed lemonade at the pool(my new favourite drink) and a refreshing swim!