Let It Rise.

A few weeks back, this gluten-free girl got her hands covered in the dreaded glutinous mixture. And it was awesome.

I had been visiting a small community where we built improved ovens, doing follow-up with the families. A sweet family invited me for a bowl of soup (hello, deliciousness) and then pulled out about thirty pounds of dough from their kitchen, ready to roll and bake. I kindly invited myself to stay and help. Yep, that happened.

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Breadmaking is quite the process here. Besides going into town (half hour away) to buy ingredients, you then have to mix together (by hand) thirty pounds of dough. The dough is then run through a mill of sorts, that this family constructed (pictured above).

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Then, you cover your hands in oil, roll the dough into small balls and set to rise for about 10 minutes.

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Then, each ball is made into a specific type of bread. We made three different types that day: relleno, simple and pico.

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Doña Lillian showing me how to make pico.

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Pictured below is the sweet bread that is filled with a sugar/flour/coloring mixture.

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While the family is waiting to make some adjustments to their improved oven, they continue using their traditional oven, pictured below. This beast gets preheated for about an hour before all the wood is taken out and the dough put in.

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And what would a blog post be without some pictures of the cuties I got to hang out with while baking?!

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Sharing an ice-cream treat.

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Squishy faces.

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This little lady wasn’t too sure about the little chick.

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Such a doll.

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What I loved most about bread day, was the community. The whole family helped, neighbors came by to lend a hand, and a little glutinous community formed around the kitchen table. Pretty incredible.

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Waldo’s Nicaraguan Adventures.

My amazing dad came down to visit me for a brief, but adventure-filled, week right before Christmas. What a gift. We spent the week trekking around in our little rented car, finding all sorts of adventures down random dirt roads, zip-lining, exploring beaches, mountains, coffee farms, historical cities, and drinking coffee multiple times a day. It was a grand time.

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About 10 years ago, he and I started a tradition/joke in our family around Christmas time. My mom has a ridiculously large Santa collection that she puts out every year on the living room mantle. My dad and I decided that display looked like a page from a Where’s Waldo book, so he printed out a cutout of Waldo and we hid him. It took my mom a couple days to find it, and her reaction was priceless. Needless to say, it became a tradition and every year that sneaky Waldo finds a place to hide in the Santas.

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My dad brought me down a bunch of Christmas goodies, and in one box my mom had packed Waldo! After discovering him, we quickly decided Waldo needed a grand tour of Nicaragua. So, without a legit passport and an ever-constant grin, Waldo joined us on our quick jaunt around the lakes of volcanoes. Check out where we found him hiding:

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Waldo soaking up some semi-cloudy rays of sunshine and getting salty on a rural beach.

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Posing on the zipline company vehicle in San Rafael del Norte.

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Post-ziplining hang out time with our guides.

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Roadtrip pit-stop for french fries in Managua on the way to Matagalpa.

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Chilling in the hotel in Matagalpa.

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Enjoying a mocha and light reading in Matagalpa city.

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Exploring Selva Negra in Matagalpa.

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Flirting with an indigenous woman…tsk, tsk, Waldo.

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Checking out the art at Selva Negra.

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Learning to make black ceramic pottery in the mountains of Jinotega.

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Enjoying a cocktail in Granada.

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Cheese, chai and fresh bread in Esteli.

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Chilling in the cacti in a mini-botanical garden in Esteli.

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Waldo goes green.

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Checking out cigar boxes in Esteli.

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Woah there, Waldo, lay off the cigars will ya?

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Catching a good night’s sleep in a sweet historical hotel in Granada.

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Taking in the view of the cloud-covered volcano from our hotel room in Granada.

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Enjoying the cathedral from our hotel balcony the last night in Granada.

Well played, Waldo, well played.

Thankful.

I sit here in my hammock, already sweating at 8am, enjoying a cup of stovetop-brewed coffee that still has some of the grains in it because they can’t ever be completely strained out. The street outside my house is loud, kids heading to classes, people to work, the occasional cowboy riding by on his horse. Dogs bark, fireworks go off, and life goes on. Today is not a holiday in here.

Amidst the heat, noise, and unstrained coffee, I find myself thankful.

Really, really thankful.

Thankful that this morning I could wake up and ‘aprovechar’ the wifi of my neighbors to post this.

Thankful that I now live in a house where my things no longer mold just from being inside the building.

Thankful that I have a house.

Thankful that after struggling for years with gray/cloudy skies, I am living out a two-year respite of sunshine and blue skies.

Thankful that when I went to clean out my mini-fridge yesterday, I came to realize that over half of what was inside was deliciousness I had been given by six different families. Love.

Thankful that I have a mini-fridge to clean out.

Thankful for the hospitality, love and patience of my Nicaraguan community.

Thankful I have not gotten Dengue.

Thankful that my self-care afternoon this week included spending three hours at a rural beach swimming and splashing around a natural, crystal-clear swimming pool that forms when the tide is out with local kids.

Thankful that later this afternoon I will get to be swimming in a pool and enjoying turkey, gluten-free stuffing, and no-bake cookies with some dear friends and PC staff.

Thankful that I have met some pretty incredible people over the last few weeks who have changed my views about the future, careers, and loving the job you have.

Thankful that I get to see my dad in t-minus three weeks.

Thankful that regardless of parasites, thefts, and the hard days, I get to live out this dream of spending a couple years abroad.

Thankful for my incredible friends and family back in the States who I know are rooting for me and love me.

Lastly, thankful that I have no shame in posting this early-morning, puffy-face selfie for you all to enjoy. See Mom? I’m alive and happy 🙂

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Love you all dearly. Happy turkey day!

Thoughts On A Week Gone Awry.

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So, as you might have gathered from previous posts, Colin’s trip did not quite turn out as we had expected. You’ve heard his version, now here’s mine:

Friday

11:30 am – Land in Managua after taking the red-eye from Seattle. Head to the PC office.

2:00 pm – Go to bus station to go back to my site. I get robbed. Get off the bus.

3:00 pm  – Back to the PC office to fill out paperwork and spend the night.

8:00 pm – Colin eats no less than 8 tacos, chips, guacamole, and two drinks for dinner.

Saturday

7:00 am – Try to get Colin out of bed. It’s surfing day!

8:00 am – Give up on the buses and hire a taxi to take us out to the beach.

10:00 am – Arrive at the beach. Meet my fellow PCV friend Sam. Drink fresh juice in our beachfront cabana.

11:00 am – Colin tries his hand at surfing, thanks to Sam. I awkwardly try to float around on my borrowed board and watch the activities.

11:30 ish – I have a funny feeling that something has happened and get out of the water. Go check my cell phone. Three calls and four text messages inform me that there has been a 6.4 earthquake three miles south of us and we are to evacuate ASAP.

11:45 am – After using an air horn and jumping up and down to get Colin and Sam’s attention and get them out of the water, we load into hitched rides in church group vans and drive a few miles inland to a higher spot of land.

12:15 pm – Receive word that the small tsunami has hit and all is well. We get packed and head out.

Afternoon – Head back to my site to rest and settle in. Buy fritanga for dinner and watch Spanish TV with my host family.

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Sunday/Monday/Tuesday

Colin meets my English group, plays soccer with my friends, comes to classes with me, watches some movies and tears through some reading. Peace Corps life = a good amount of downtime.

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Wednesday

3:00 am – Colin wakes up screaming about his head hurting and needing to pee. I tell him to go to the bathroom and get a glass of water. Done.

6:00 am – My alarm goes off. I get up and prep to travel about three hours to another PCV’s rural site to meet their counterparts and take part in a training activity.

6:15 am – I get the brother up. He comes stumbling down the metal stairs in my apartment saying he doesn’t feel well and thinks he might have a fever. I put my hand to his forehead and pull it away immediately after feeling burnt. Literally.

6:17 am – A disposable thermometer (thanks PC med kit!) shows that Colin has a 104 degree fever. Yikes.

6:20 am – After dosing Colin up with drugs and cold rags, I head out, leaving my cell and instructions with my host sister, as well as asking my site mate to go check on him at some point in the morning.

9:30 am – After getting to Managua and spending an hour trying to flag down buses, I give up and go back the hour and a half to site…Colin is asleep, fever still raging.

2:00 pm – I take a sample of Colin’s to the local lab, then head to class in one of my rural sites.

5:00 pm – Return to the lab to get the results. He has a bacteria infection.

5:30 pm – After getting the correct meds and walking home, I find Colin exactly where I left him:

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Thursday

All day: Colin lays in the exact same spot, after sleeping in the exact same spot. Besides getting up to use the bathroom, this is where he stays. He watches a record 10 movies in 48 hours. I spend the day teaching and on the phone with my dad in the States figuring out alternative travel plans for the sickie.

9:00 pm – After a cold shower, more cold rags, and almost 40 hours of the highest dose of Tylenol one can have, his fever breaks. Color this big sister relieved.

Friday

7:00 am – Wake and up take Colin’s temperature for the bazillionth time. Still running a small fever. Ask Dad to call to talk travel plans.

8:00 am – Colin’s noon flight ticket is now cancelled and moved to the following day. I start to feel sick.

9:00 am – Colin and I pack up and go to Managua. I need a break and a hot shower after dealing with diarrhea man for two days!

1:00 pm – I see the doctor because I’m feeling sick. Go to the lab.

Saturday

8:00 am – I go the bank headquarters to get my new bank card. Sweet relief.

10:00 am – Colin and I go to the airport.

11:00 am – Colin is checked-in, lectured by his sister, hugged goodbye, and through security. I find a bathroom.

12:00 pm – I am back in bed at the hotel. Lab results show I got Colin’s infection. Thanks, bro.

11:00 pm – I’m still in bed. Start meds. Get word that Colin made it back safely. Thank goodness.

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So needless to say, this week was not all peaches and cream. But Colin and I still had fun. It was pretty cool and kind of strange to show him a bit of my life here, and it opened up some interesting conversation. I’ll leave you with a few quotes straight from his mouth, observations on Nica life:

“This country is really pretty” (said while standing in one of the dirtiest part of downtown Managua)

“Your host mom is really nice”

There’s something floating in my water” (his own backwash)

“Your apartment is very….basic.”

“Wait, there was another earthquake this morning?”

“They have horses here? I’ll them an Asian can ride a horse!”

 

The Colin Chronicles III

The last of Colins unedited tales of adventures gone by!

Hey its Colin again. I’m writing my last blog for Kacie from our cabin on Lopez Island. This blog will be about the whole trip. So you better get comfy because its going to be a long one.

 So to start off, I’m pretty sure the last blog I wrote was right before I got sick. I woke up in the middle of the night freezing cold and a bad headache. I told kacie I wasn’t feeling good, but she just told me to go get some water. She didn’t care that I was sick. No actually she didn’t know I was so sick I almost fell down the stairs just to get that water. The next morning kacie took my temperature and it was 104. I’m no doctor but that is pretty high. In a way I kinda liked being sick. I got to watch a whole bunch of movies. I watched all the Pirates of the Caribbean movies, and three Harry Potter movies in two days. I was sick for three days. I think Kacie really liked taking care of me. NOT! One thing I didn’t like about being sick is that I didn’t get to see the other classes that Kacie teaches at. But I did get to really get to know her downstairs and bathroom. If you want to know what it looks like I could tell you. So I guess that is one thing that is positive about the whole thing of being sick. 

I don’t think I could have asked for a more exciting and interesting week. To top off being sick, we had a robbery and a tsunami warning,  how exciting! I don’t think I couldve handled much more. But with all seriousness I had a great trip. Ok I’m done being serious. I can’t handle being serious even for a sentence. I really missed playing soccer when I was sick. 

There you guys go. There is my blogs. Hope you like them because I was forces to write these. I was threatened! If I didnt write these Kacie would kill me! HELP! SOMEONE  SAVE ME FROM HER

The Colin Chronicles II

Part two of Colin’s Nicaraguan adventures…unedited!

Hey its me again. I am writing yet another blog. I don’t know what to say about today. No actually today was a fun day. I got to spend the whole day at one of Kacies schools in Masachapa. There I got to talk to one of the profes there who taught English. Finally someone else who I can talk to. He wanted to know what I thought of the school. I said I noticed the kids don’t take notes which I had to do. He said that he tries to make the kids take notes but they never do. I told him that I was made to take notes in class. Also I gave him great teaching advice, coming from someone who has never taught in his life. I told him he could give a quiz right before the class ends on what he just taught for the day. He said if I could speak Spanish he would make me tell that to the class. Yeah Right! Even if I could speak Spanish I wouldn’t. After school I played soccer again. Its really fun. Also the host mom made us dinner tonight, which was really good. Before dinner, I was coming out of the apartment when my flashlight hit something that looked like a leaf than it moved its head. It turned out to be a frog. I freaked out, I screamed and jumped and scared the dog in the process. It was a small frog too but still it was scary, I thought I was going to die. Than Kacie came out and saw what I screamed about and laughed. What a great sister. Just laughs at her little brother.

That’s it for today.

The Colin Chronicles I

As some of you may know, my little brother is visiting me for a week (an adventure in and of itself!). Here are his unedited views on his time thus far…enjoy!

Hi everyone, its Kacie’s little brother writing a blog for her because she can’t write anymore. My name is Colin if you didn’t know. I am spending a week down here with her. I came down here June 14 and am leaving on the 21st. The first 24 hours down here were very exciting. When we were boarding the bus in Managua Kacie got her personal passport stolen, so we had to stay at a hotel. Staying at the hotel was fine with me; it had air conditioning, internet, a T.V., and a shower that had hot water. That’s all in the first three hours we were here. The next day we went to a beach to meet another Peace Corps volunteer. There we went surfing, which was fun until we had to get out because there was a tsunami warning. Apparently there was a 6.4 earthquake that happened a couple miles south of us. So we had to evacuate to higher ground.

                Besides all that other stuff, being in Nicaragua has been quite interesting. It has opened my eyes to see that I am very fortunate to be where I am. (Mom, unfortunately you were right!) I have met Kacie’s English group. They are very nice and funny. I played soccer with one of them and some other people. Also I went to one of the schools that profe Kacie works at. I got to meet the students, and all the girls liked me. I mean who wouldn’t? They asked me if I like the girls down here. Profe Kacie told me to be careful on how I answer. They also asked me if I liked it down here. I like it, just not sitting in a classroom where I don’t need to be because I have already graduated.

                That pretty much wraps it for me. I might write another blog right before I go. But now I have to go watch a movie.

BYE BYE