A Travellerspoint blog

By this Author: AnzelcL

Alejandro has a pair of shoes

Before we get into it, I'd like to send a quick shout out to following people: Elaine, Heidi, Steph and Eric. Hey readers, interested in this kind of publicity? I'm not surprised. All you have to do is subscribe!

Heidi and I were able to get to know Alejandro a little better yesterday when he joined us for an afternoon snack. Over nachos at the highly recommended restaurant, Nectar, Alejandro told us about his family (his mother who gave him up as a young child because of her addiction to drugs, his father who never wanted children, and his aunt who he lives with now). His aunt is raising several of his brothers and sisters in addition to her own children. He also told us his life as a “niño de la calle” as he put it; how he begs for money, sells cigarettes, candy and small figurines made from leaves in order to help his aunt feed his family. It was such a relief to learn that he does indeed have a home and that the time we saw him sleeping on the street was because he was fighting with his aunt (which, while still saddening, is better than him being homeless). And for those of you wondering, it turns out that he does have shoes and is actually 17 – it seems that he really has mastered how to tug on the heartstrings of tourists.

Alejandro is quite the charmer; I think he could have been a superstar if he had been born to different circumstances. He seems to love chatting with anyone who will take the time to listen. Be careful though, he's certainly not above making fun of you if you happen to mess up your Spanish.
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I don't know that his story is true, but I choose to believe it. We left him with a full stomach, 200 cordobas and, per his request, a promise to pray for him and his family.

Posted by AnzelcL 19:17 Comments (0)

clase de español

all seasons in one day 88 °F

The pace of our Spanish classes has really been picking up lately.

Last week, Heidi and I were not enjoying Spanish class as much as we did in Antigua. As we quickly learned, no one compares to Angelica and Hellen.

The set up is very similar to Ixchel, where we studied in Guatemala. For four hours, we're each seated at a small table with a teacher, workbooks and a whiteboard. Before starting our first class we had to take a placement exam. It was pretty rough – Heidi and I scored 34 and 33.5 respectively. We're choosing to believe that this means we know a third of the language... ¿correcto?
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Our teachers last week weren't really big on positive reinforcement. My teacher happened to be the director and also happened to be very busy, often completing paperwork while teaching or stepping away from the table to talk to someone. Heidi's was less than friendly and often left without fulling explaining assignments.

This week we've switched to morning classes. We have new teachers and are a bit happier with the experience. My teacher is really moving quickly through the lessons – I think it's likely that I'll be fluent by my last class on Friday.

The real highlight of the whole experience so far was when I realized that they had catagorized me as an intermediate student... and it only took 15 years!

Learning another language is incredibly humbling and mentally exhausting. By the end of class each day I'm absolutely drained. While I appreciate the challenge, I'm looking forward to the ease of speaking English when I return home.

Posted by AnzelcL 16:45 Archived in Nicaragua Comments (0)

Adios Jimmy...

sunny 88 °F

With Jimmy's departure, I've made a move into Heidi's room per the request of Rosita. We're now sharing what we like to call a suite. With two double beds, three gold couches and our own bathroom, we really feel like we're living the high life.
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The food here is amazing. I'm really loving having three home cooked meals a day and it's great being able to try so much typical Nicaraguan food. My favorite is still the nacatamale.

I guess what I'm trying to say is... Bobby, step up your game. Upon my return, I'd like to see several gold couches and a whole lot of rice and beans.

Posted by AnzelcL 16:37 Archived in Nicaragua Comments (0)

There's a clown on my bus...

...and other stories from Leon

sunny 88 °F

On Saturday, Heidi and I took a bus (or rather a series of buses and a pedicab) to Leon. As you might have guessed, there was a clown on our bus. We're not really sure what his angle was, as despite his attire he didn't have any real clown skills (about 5 seconds on mediocre juggling and that's it). He earned 3 cordobas from us based simply on his randomness.
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The clown on the bus may have been the highlight of Leon. Upon arrival, a pedicab driver took us directly to Chillie Inn despite our requests to go to the center of town. We quickly learned that this was the "spiciest place in town" and minutes later had a room booked. We quickly found that Leon has almost nothing to offer as far as entertainment. We settled on a few beers and some nachos before calling it an early night.

We woke up early on Sunday for Volcano boarding, one of the things that Leon seems to have gotten right. The hike up was both strenuous and stunning; absolutely worth the work to see the views from the top. The ride down was quite the rush (pretty much what you would expect from a 45 degree grade). At the end, we were both glad that we had done it and glad that it was over.
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By the time we got home on Sunday night, we couldn't wait to see Rosita and the many chairs. It's strange how, when everything is so foreign, a place can feel like home after such a short period of time.

Posted by AnzelcL 17:39 Archived in Nicaragua Comments (0)

Volunteering

Now that's hard work...

sunny 85 °F

Heidi, Jimmy and I had no idea what were getting ourselves into when we decided we wanted to help out at the local preschool for a few hours each day.

The preschool serves about 80 children. There is one large room that has waist high partitions to create three separate “classrooms.” Jimmy is with the 3-year-olds, I have the 4-year-olds and Heidi is taking on the 5-year-olds. I believe that it is the loudest room in the whole world. Maybe the hottest, too.
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The morning always starts off with dancing – the moves are a bit elaborate, but we're picking it up. With the four-year-olds, we then move into about 10 minutes of lesson, coloring, possibly a field trip down the street, lunch and playing with blocks. I know I'm not supposed to, but I definitely have a few favorites: Ramon (who is always in trouble), Carlos (who I'm trying to teach to write his name except he always starts it with an “o” and ends it with a backwards “s”) and Ivonne (who looks exactly like a precious moments figurine). Jimmy's favorite is Eduardo, who says everything with extreme conviction and responds “si” when you ask him if he speaks English (he doesn't). Jimmy says that he is planning to kidnap him (I'm pretty sure he's kidding). Heidi is possibly the most advanced volunteer, as she has been asked to both color and teach English.
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I'm finding out that education in Nicaragua is a major problem. My Spanish teacher told me that while the enrollment rate for 1st graders is 93% it has dropped to 50% by 5th grade. To make matters worse, it appears that there isn't enough funding in public schools for necessary supplies. One of the teachers mentioned today that they didn't have enough books because they were too expensive (50 Cordobas, the equivalent of about 45 cents). The teachers and aids seem to be trying but lack both training and warmth. Again, witnessing the poverty here is heartbreaking – we're trying to figure out the best way to help.

Posted by AnzelcL 16:46 Archived in Nicaragua Comments (0)

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