A Slice of Heaven.

I got a little slice of heaven recently.

Mom and Drea Visit 280

It came in the form of my mom and dear friend Drea coming to visit me.

They came to see my life here and treat me to a mini-vacation.

Talk about being blessed!

Mom and Drea Visit 112

We started out the week in my site, where they got to observe some of the work I do, meet community members, and experience that ridiculous heat that never seems to end. They were such troopers, dealing with jet lag, culture shock and not understanding Spanish.

Mom and Drea Visit 132

My English Crew was so welcoming to my family – they even made a special dinner of repocheta to share during our weekly meeting. It was fun to have my dear friends from Seattle and my dear friends here in Nicaragua together in the same room. Talk about worlds colliding.

Mom and Drea Visit 111

I also took them to meet some other PCVs and my mother and Drea royally spoiled us with delicious food and coffee. My Nica PCV friends were pretty excited. It’s not often we get to have fun deliciousness bought for us!

Coffee + Mom + Dear Friends = Self-Care High

Mom and Drea Visit 160

After a few days in my site and a pit stop in Masaya for some shopping and lunch, we headed south to San Juan del Sur, a beachy tourist town in the very southwest side of Nicaragua.

Thanks to Drea’s amazing Groupon-scouting skills, they got us an incredible hotel up on the hill overlooking the bay. It was as if a white-washed hotel from the coastal hills of Greece had been transported to Nicaragua just for our enjoyment. I would be lying if I said we did much more than just hang out there, enjoying delicious cocktails, reading and watching the gorgeous sunsets.

Mom and Drea Visit 442

Drea wrote a beautiful post on her blog about her time here. I loved hearing her and my Mom’s perspectives on my life here and observations of the culture of Nicaragua. It is strange how fast my perceptions have changed and to see someone witnessing Nicaragua for the first time was a treat (and kind of hilarious at times!).

Mom and Drea Visit 136

I dropped them at the airport after only 7 short days.  Tears came and while it was so sad to say goodbye, I am so thankful for the time, money and energy that these two put into coming down here. I think sometimes we need our worlds to collide a bit to give us some fresh perspective and renewed energy, and that is what their trip did for me.

Love you, Mom and Drea!

A Five Minute Life Update.

MidSeptember 2012 007

If you and I had five minutes to chat, here’s what I would tell you:

It rained last night in my site for the first time in 5 months. A sweeter sound has never been heard.

Every other minute of the day is mid-90s and crazy strong wind that causes dust storms. I have eye infections galore due to the crud that travels with the dust and into my eyes every time I open them. Regardless of how often I sweep and mop (multiple times a day is my normal routine), there is still an inch of dust coating my floors, books, clothes.

Mangoes are coming into season. Watermelon is delicious, as is the cantaloupe I bought today. Avocados are making their appearance in the market again after a long absence. Well worth the 20 cord splurge. Green peppers are now huge and amazingly delicious, and only cost 5 cords.

My site mate made my week by making me a morning iced coffee to start a long day. And it was amazing. My recycled Gatorade bottles now have a steady job of chilling full of chocolately-coffee goodness in my family’s fridge to be waiting for me in the morning.

I only had three guys ask for my phone number this week. And only one of them was a student!

I spent today rechecking in with various contacts in the community since I don’t have classes Fridays. Besides visiting the superintendent, I even snuck in a visit to the NGO in town that has air-conditioning and purified water. Sweet bliss. I ended my day by showing up at my friends’ house and begging to chinear (snuggle) with their one month old baby boy. Between baby snuggles and being named ‘Tia Kacie’, this lady left with a very happy heart. I have strict instructions to come back every day and am happy to oblige.

There has been a lot of death and random violence in my community in the last two weeks. Between a horrid car accident I saw in Managua last weekend and one that happened right outside my community on Wednesday, no less than 11 people have been killed in the last 5 days. At one of my schools, a fight broke out between a couple students and ended up with 16 students fighting and somehow beating up an old man in the central park. I saw another car/motorcycle accident this morning in town. Thankfully the driver was okay, just nursing some cuts on the side of the road, where the local business owner had provided him with some bowls of water to wash up, his motorcycle laying sprawled in the middle of street. During a break in classes on Wednesday, I had to notify the vice-principal about another fight at a different school this week, and she called the police to come handle it. Too much.

I may have broken out into a really embarrassing celebration dance on the sidewalk in the center of town today when I caught the quesillo lady 30 seconds before she was leaving. She not only unpacked all of her stuff to make me a fresh quesillo, but gave me double cheese. For free. Best. Day. Ever.

I bought a basil plant in Managua two weekends ago and a planter to put it in last weekend in Caterina. I finally planted it today and words do not even begin to express how happy it makes me to see that little plant when I come home.

I have started working out more frequently, even going on 6 AM runs. If you know me, you know the level of stress required to get me out of bed that early and to go exercise is high. Very high.

I am trying hard to remember to be gentle with myself. These have been a couple rough, stressful weeks. And I need to remember to breathe, to give myself some grace, and to loosen up a bit. Life is going to go on.

“But this is what I’m finding, in glimpses and flashes: this is it. This is it, in the best possible way. That thing I’m waiting for, that adventure, that move-score-worthy experience unfolding gracefully. This is it. Normal, daily life ticking by on our streets and sidewalks, in our houses and apartments, in our beds and at our dinner tables, in our dreams and prayers and fights and secrets – this pedestrian life is the most precious thing any of use will ever experience.”

~ Shauna Niequist, Cold Tangerines

A Quesillo Party!

I tend to talk about it with as much passion as an incredibly good-looking, outdoorsy, hipster man.

And my Nica friends have caught on to my love\obsession.

What is it?

Quesillo!

First Week Back 150

As a ‘welcome back to Nicaragua’ treat, my friends from our English conversation group threw a Quesillo Party for me!

Quesillo is an amazing Nicaraguan food: mozzeralla-esque cheese, cream, a bit of salt, and a huge serving of onion-vinegar relish, all rolled into a tortilla, and eaten out of a plastic bag.

Uh-mazing.

First Week Back 141

My friend Aura making our homemade quesillos.

First Week Back 133

My friend Jasser and his beautiful wife.

First Week Back 130

´Nacho´, Freddy and Aura.

First Week Back 128

Jasser practicing his modeling skills.

First Week Back 126

The youngest member of our group, 14 year-old Jose.

First Week Back 117

Relaxing in the cool evening air before class starts.

First Week Back 151

My friend Adolfo and I.

First Week Back 146

Thankful for friends who love celebrating and good food!

Pure Joy.

First Week Back 030

This is my friend Humberto, one of the most earnest, joyful, genuine, kindest, and welcoming young adults I have ever met.

He speaks peacefully, studies hard, and works harder.

He practices his English for hours everyday, is working on getting hired in the local sugarcane fields, and is excited that he has an opportunity to travel to visit the States at some point in the coming year.

He also happens to be one of my first real friends I have made here in-site, and for that, I will forever be thankful.

He has made sure to introduce to other friends and has expanded my social circle times a billion, a priceless gift.

I wish you could all meet him to see what I mean and have your days brightened just a bit.