March Brain Dump.

My mind has been all over the place lately. Between traveling for work, keeping sane in site, enjoying time with friends, cooking,endless  bus trips, English group, and starting to think about post-PC life, it’s been a bit crazy. While I’ve had a ton of ideas of quality blog posts to put up, it just hasn’t happened.

So, welcome to the brain dump, aka, things that have been grabbing my interest, bringing me encouragement, and straight up challenging me. And some pictures, because, well, it’s me.

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I’m quickly becoming a tortilla-making pro and find that I rather enjoy spending hours making them. Even better, it is an amazing time to chat with local women who have been patient enough to teach me. I’m planning on buying a ‘comal’ to bring back to the States so I can make legit tortillas.

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Trips to the beach. Needed. Enough said.

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School is back in full force. Here are a couple fotos of my students presenting their work and the picture below shows a pretty normal day in the big high school here – hectic-ness.

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Earthquakes! We are still shaking and rattling and rolling here. Looks like the Pacific coast has been pretty active, and I just happen to live in the community where they epicenters have been here in Nicaragua. Keeping us on our toes, and thankfully, nothing hugely serious and no injuries or tsunamis. Much to be thankful for.

About two weeks ago I got to help put on a small business incubator, where we brought to together 20+ business owners from all around the country to spend three days in Granada looking at ways they can improve their businesses. I would consider this one of my favorite events I have gotten to help plan. Amazing to sit with business owners, here their stories, ask questions, and help brainstorm ways they could try doing things differently.

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The above picture is of me giving a presentation on human resources, and below is an outdoor hallway in the hotel we stayed at. I’m kind of in love with the pots, and the volcano in the background doesn’t hurt anything either.

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Group foto with our business owners and leadership team (minus me, I was taking the picture!).

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Monkey feet on a recent outing the zoo – yes, Nicaragua has a zoo. And it is pretty well done.

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Thinking of my sweet state back home and sending love to these communities: http://www.komonews.com/news/local/Number-of-missing-from-mudslide-drops-to-30-253104791.html

This bridge. Hello, beautiful.

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A recent day trip to Leon to go volcano-boarding didn’t quite pan out, so I spend the morning taking myself on a photography and good coffee date. Not bad at all. And it meant finding this gem of a wall.

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And to end, this quote, from a blog I read:

“Instead of guilt, gratitude.  Every sip of cold water, every good night kiss, every moment of this very precious life.  It’s vital to recognize that our culture is well beyond the boundaries of comfort, having become guilty of lavish excess, and surely guilty of increasing injustice too.  Gratitude though, is for the fact that there no bombs on the roadside, that people gather in public places to express their views, mostly without fear of reprisal, that there’s food on the table and the possibility of friendship, love, education.  It’s far from perfect, but there’s much for which we can be grateful.  This is a starting point to living here well.”

~ Richard Dahlstrom, blog ~

Did That Actually Happen?

Maybe call it a lack of pre-planning or foresight, but there are a few things I never imagined happening here in Nicaragua.

The other evening, I sat down and brainstormed the first 30+ that came to mind. So here commences the not-even-close-to-being-finished list of…

“Things I Never Thought I Would Be Doing in the Peace Corps”

Teaching people how to de-seed tomatoes.

Working in operating rooms – with a scalpel in hand.

Learning how to bloodlessly kill a chicken.

Mastering mold-removal techniques for cement walls.

Teaching people how to correctly wash hands.

Pooping out worms.

Learning to identify clay content in soil.

Feeling completely and utterly inadequate on an almost daily basis.

Transporting 100 toothbrushes, toothpaste tubes and floss packets between countries.

Setting and enforcing boundaries with neighborhood kids who want to use my apartment as a recreation center.

Throwing away books and clothes because termites ate through them.

Figuring out that mice are living in my bed.

Knowing the fancy hospital’s lab technicians on a personal basis. Frequent flyer, yo.

Watching a C-section of a young mom. Hi, cute baby!

Thinking about changing my career.

Being peed on by bats while trying to sleep. It burns, folks, it burns.

Riding buses for three hours to buy an iced latte. Worth it.

Running outside at midnight to do a celebratory dance in the first rain after 8 months of dust and dryness.

Enjoying washing my laundry by hand. It is therapy that I swear by.

Correcting my Spanish-speaking students’ spelling errors.

Being congratulated by my community on the Seahawk’s win. Wait, they were in the Super Bowl this year?

Explaining to small children and adults alike that no, vegetables do not make you fat. But that fried cheese you have in your hand? It could.

Feeling like my heart is physically breaking in two at the stories I hear from community members.

Processing the idea that sometimes (almost always), stepping in with money is not helpful.

Dancing to ranchero music at midnight in a dirt-floor cantina with a man I just met, who would soon become someone really special to me.

Standing at the airport and cringing at American mission groups and other tourists who are entering/leaving the country. We are our image here, and it is not always pretty.

Explaining to male professors why I do not wear shorts in public.

Asking male professors to stop cat-calling me in front of their students.

Playing a midnight game of chase with a mouse.

Throwing pottery in a rural mountain town with my dad.

Mastering the art of tortillas tostadas, a specialty in my community.

Explaining to my community on an almost weekly basis that no, Americans are not required to get a microchip implanted in their arm.

Being asked by a national TV show to dance with a towel in order to promote summer vacation, while at a bus busy terminal.

Getting sprayed by fresh, flying cow dung while waiting for a bus.

Getting teary-eyed every time one of my old students tells me that they are now studying in college or have gotten a job.

Chasing after a pig who ate through the Christmas stocking my mom sent, and ate the bag of chocolate. Bacon was almost had for Christmas dinner.

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