Coming Home

I have started this blog about six times since i left Managua on Monday morning, it is still unreal to me that i am home.. The whole trip went by so fast, it’s almost like i was dreaming.

 I don’t really know where to start, i am suffering a little bit of culture shock and a little bit of homesickness. Yes, culture shock of being home and i’m homesick for my home i have made in Nicaragua. 

Nicaragua did a lot for me. I feel like i grew up a lot. I took risks, things i would never have done back home. The touristy stuff was fun, but it was the little things that really impacted me the most. The walks to schools in the mornings, the conversations about immigration with my host family, the people i met on the buses who were quick 5 minute friends that i will never see again. Those people that i will never see again, do they know they made such an impact on this traveling gringa? Who knows… It the things that i do not have pictures for that were the biggest part of my trip.

This trip has inspired me to do more traveling, learn more spanish and other languages, see the world and other cultures. I want to become a global citizen, and starting in Nicaragua was an amazing choice. 

I also have so many people to thank for this amazing experience, but i don’t think i’m ready to. I woke up this morning expecting to hear the busy streets of Managua and quickly realized i was in my own bed. That being said, i don’t think i’m ready to accept i’m back in the states, not quite yet. But the people who i am talking about, you know who you are, thank you 🙂 

On the last day of class Ana and i watched the Motorcycle Diaries. The last quote in the film was 
“Me, i’m not the same me, at least not the same spiritual me.” –  Ernesto Guevara. This quote stood out to me the moment i heard it and it really just speaks for itself.

Thank you for following my trip, i hope you all enjoyed the blog! 

And remember,

no tendre miedo nunca. 

Don’t ever be afraid.

 

-Kailie 🙂 

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“..and this life is the story i have always wanted to tell.” T.K.G.

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I went on a canopy tour! Now if you know me, you know i’m absolutely terrified of heights so i don’t really know what happened…..

There i was, taking pictures of plants (well trying) for my herb class i am enrolled in at Johnson State when i started talking to this older man who was waiting for these people to get out of their turn of canopy touring. We got to talking and he convinced me it would be good for my fear and i would be just fine. So naturally, i trusted him and did it. And boy, was i scared. But i made myself keep my eyes open the whole time and i was a lot of feet up…but after about five seconds in, i was fine! Fear = gone.

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But this morning i realized i do not give enough credit to my spanish class and how much i am learning. My profe Ana and i work for four hours a day (monday thru thursday) going over so much. I have gained a greater confidence in my spanish in all aspects, reading, pronunciation, comprehension, everything. Before i came to Nicaragua i was embarrassed to even read in class (Senora Chase, you know what i’m talking about!) But now i have found a new confidence and love for the language and all the crazy terms and tenses it has twisted inside of it. So thank you Ana! and the lovely folks at UAM for setting me up with such a great program. I may not be fluent yet, but i am miles ahead of where i was when i first arrived.

Tomorrow is my last Wednesday in Nica and another international student from UAM’s Green Adventure program is moving in! I’m pretty excited, i’m going to have to show her around Managua like my friends did for me! yay! Then Thursday i have my final exam for Spanish as well as my final lunch with the lovely Mary Helen and Stephanie, a final night out with the girls and then it’s Friday. And early Friday morning i will be going to Leon with my profe for a fun filled weekend of exploration, volcano boarding (hopefully) and beach time. Then it’s going to be Sunday and i’m going to be coming home, packing and leaving. What? That doesn’t sound right….

 

I don’t want to leave! 

 

    

Tranquila

I just had such an amazing weekend. I don’t know where to start, so i’m just going to go through every single part of my weekend! 

Friday 7am – i hopped into a taxi to the UCA bus station. The driver took 200 cords out of my wallet when we got there. I promptly took it right back out of his hands, told him he was rude and handed him 50 cords and left him screaming in the taxi. This was a pleasant start to my weekend 😉

8am to 11am – i navigated myself to Port San Jorge to find the Ferry. Between microbuses and city buses i finally made it to the port just in time to catch my ferry.

11:30am – I was on the ferry and all was well. I kept having flash backs to last time i was on that same ferry..with 11 other Vermonters, all anxious and what not. This day however i was on the ferry with a kid named David, who did a bunch of traveling and after his trip to Ometepe had a trip planned across Europe. David is also friends with my friend Isaac from JSC…small small world.

12pm- FINALLY arrived on Ometepe. I decided to take public transportation to Merida, which is off the beaten path on the other side of the island…

4pm- FOUR HOURS LATER. and much spanish learned, i arrived at Hacienda Merida the hotel in which i stayed for the weekend. I ate some pollo y arroz at the restaurant while i waited for my friend Yeri to come get me. Yeri is from Merida, we met him last year during the clean water solutions trip and kept in touch. Yeri is absolutely amazing, and he’s bilingual!  Go Yeri! 

6pm- Yeri and I head up to our friend Alvero’s house. Our group from JSC also met Alvero at La Omaja, the hotel we stayed at two years ago. Alvero works for La Omaja and also became a very big part of our time in Ometepe. Unfortunately, Alvero wasn’t back from work yet, so myself, yeri and Alvero’s family all hung out and talked about everything. They are so sweet. Alvero’s esposa was very interested in my family! And the daughters, Katy and Kaiylien wanted to see all my pictures and earrings and my hair haha. I did a lot of different hair styles that night.

Saturday 8 am- The next morning Yeri texted me and told me to meet him by La Omaja. There i met Alvero and we chatted about the island while we waited for Yeri. Then Yeri showed up with horses, all suited up and ready to go to the Cascada (waterfall) in San Ramon. So, Yeri and i rode horses ( a little scary) to the water fall. It took about 1.5 hours to ride the horses up from the village and another 20 minute walk up to the actual waterfall and it was so beautiful. It was a cloudy, rainy, muggy day, but the waterfall was gorgeous and made everything so beautiful around it. In the middle of the forrest, Yeri and i hung out under the water fall, looking for monkeys and watching the butterflies. It was delightful.Image

11am- After a nice ride down from the waterfall, Yeri and i rode the horses around the village for a little while. Not much has changed in Merida. The same people are there and surprisingly they remember me! and the group! It was a good feeling knowing that such a difference was made.

 

5pm- After a quick shower/nap combo, i gathered up all my stuff and went with Yeri over to Alvero’s house for dinner. We drank Tonas and people watched for a little while when Alvero asked me if i felt at home. And i really did, i was so relaxed. I was surrounded by people i love and respect in an area which will always have a place in my heart. 

6pm- Dinner time! I finally ate dinner with a family. The girls, Yeri and i all ate a delicious meal prepared by Hijelia (maybe the spelling, i’m not sure), Alvero’s wife. It was rice, pork and spices, and frijoles. Quite simple but yet quite the combination! Probably my favorite meal so far here in Nicaragua. 

7:30pm- Katy wanted to show me something really bad so she finally put in a DVD and i automatically knew what it was. During our time in Merida, the JSC group was filmed doing work all week. We watched all the highlights, all the funny moments, when i was crying like a baby….it was so great! A little embarrassing but so great. It brought back so many memories. 

8pm- Yeri, his cousin and i all rode on one, yes, one motorcycle to a local hotel to have some more tonas and talk with the owner. It was a great time and certainly a bonding experience between all of us and that ONE motorcycle.

9pm- We ended up going back to Alvero’s house for a party! Yes! a birthday party! And let me tell you, there isn’t anything better than a nica birthday party. The whole family went and blasted music and played pinned the tail on the donkey. But you really have to dance while you do it. So me, being the tallest in the room, was blindfolded, spun around and told to dance to the pumpin’ music. It was a great time. I ended up playing twice and shaking my little chella butt. So so so much fun! And the whole family was there, everybody’s cousins and their cousins and the birthday girl! It was great! We made Yeri do it, and trust me, that kid can dance. After the pin the tail on the donkey game everybody just danced in the house to all sorts of music, country, latino, pop. It was so funny! Definitely what i was looking for in my nica experience, living the vida nica. Also, i was named a “Ometepiana”or an official islander!  I am now officially part of the Merida family 🙂 

And that is really where my story ends. I had a nice ferry ride back to San Jorge and a long bus ride to Managua, where i met other travelers and what not. But if one thing is for sure, i did NOT want to leave Ometepe.  And, I guess i will admit that i cried as my bus pulled away from Merida today. I then pulled it together and looked out the window and Alvero’s family was waiting for me by their house and waving. I waved back and then lost it again. Leaving Merida is kind of like leaving home. It’s bitter sweet and i know i will be back again. The memories that are made in Merida and forever memories. Alvero has opened his house up to me, letting me know that i am now family and his house and my house, his family is my family and words can not describe how wonderful of a feeling it is to be welcomed into another persons home like that. My weekend was absolutely incredible and i am already counting down the days to go back home to Merida. 

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Vida Nica

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I’m am honestly having such a great time. I have learned so much in my spanish class, it is ridiculous. Even though i have been in spanish classes for about 7 or 8 years now, being with Ana at UAM has really filled in all the missing pieces. 

Fun story: The other day, the theme for our class was cooking and we watched a video and read about this famous chef, which led us to go get brownies at the cafeteria. And since then, during our break Ana and i munch on the delicious brownies from the UAM cafe! So much fun! I really lucked out with such an amazing spanish teacher! 

Today, Ana and i went to Masaya to shop (of course) and explore the city a little. When our group from Johnson State came two years ago we stopped at the Masaya market, but it was a different experience now that i can speak better. We had so much fun shopping and talking to the locals. Then i encountered the Americans….. Now here is a disclaimer before i go off on my rant. I understand that its hard being in a country where you don’t speak their nature language. I get it! It’s not easy! But that still doesn’t mean all manners are lost. I encountered about 6 gringas today in the market, yelling at each other from different stores, talking AT the store owners, asking “do you understand me?” about a billion times…It was pretty bad, and they were pretty rude. I was embarrassed to be a gringa in that moment. So of course, i didn’t let it go and walked right in the middle of the chaos and made conversation with the clearly frazzled store owner until she smiled. So word to the travelers, don’t be that gringa. Respect where you are at and the people around you. Just because you may have a little bit more many than the person you are standing next to, doesn’t mean they’re not human. Respect doesn’t stop at the borders of the US.

Okay, my rant is over. I hope you all enjoyed that!

To end our trip, Ana and i walked along the Lagoon Apoyollo and went to see the baseball fields. We talked to some local children and rode around on the buso while it was raining. It really was a great day! 

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At dinner tonight my host father and i really bonded over agucates (avocados). For the first time i ate an agucate with lime and salt, and it was delicious. Nothing compares to a nica agucate or any fruit of that matter. Mis padres de nica and i are really getting along. It’s almost funny to think that i was frustrated with the language barrier just a week ago. So much has changed in such little time, it’s great.

Overall, i am having a great time. I made a promise to myself to immerse myself in the culture and i believe i am doing just that. It is so easy to go back to where we are comfortable. There are “gringa traps” all over Managua, they lure you in with the air conditioning and delicious cheese-cake and no doubt, i’ve been to these traps a couple of times! But i have really tried to expand my learning, buying food from a vendor on the street, taking the city bus full of people instead of a taxi, talking to the person i am sitting next to on the bus. I have made friends with the waiters at the Sushi restaurant near my house and we hang out every night when they get out of work! I can’t tell you how many times people said to me “Oh Kailie, while you’re in Nicaragua, don’t drink the water.” “Don’t take the city bus” “Don’t give your number out” “Don’t walk alone at night” “Don’t trust anybody” “Stick to what you know”………really? I didn’t come down here to live the same life i lived in CT. I came here to live a new live, the vida nica. and explore. (Disclaimer, mostly to my mom who probably has her jaw on the floor, MOM, i’m okay, i’m still being safe, i’m just being adventurous, love you!)

I’m just living the vida nica. and i absolutely love it.

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(Above is a picture of me with a hercules beetle. A surprise visitor to Mary Helen’s office the other day. And yes, it’s alive.)

 

Ometepe!

So i have been pretty busy the last couple days, and i have a lot to talk about, but that will all have to wait while i throw in my ode to Ometepe.

In 2011, i found out i was chosen to work with a team of students on a clean water solutions trip to Ometepe, Nicaragua. When i first found out, i was stoked! Clean water? Awesome! What a prevalent social issue in the world today. Then i realized i was going to Nicaragua? First thought that went through my head was, what? Where is Nicaragua? 

Then, 5 months later, i found myself amongst the most amazing people i have ever met. In the most amazing place i had ever been, doing the most fantastic work i have ever done. I am not exaggerating when i say, i cried so much on the last day before i left that my tears could have filled up Lake Managua. I don’t know what it was. Maybe it was the culture shock, the village and the social issue that made me realize just how fortunate i am. Maybe it was the overwhelming sense of hope and joy that came out of every single community member we worked with. The people of Merida may not have a lot of materialistic things, but they sure do have a lot of the important stuff. Love. Hope & Happiness. I met some amazing people, some who i still are in contact with today, like Yeri! and David, and Kaiylie, Jamie and Alvero. And now i get to see them in less than 24 hours!  

I came back to the United States a different person in March of 2012. And now its June of 2013, and i am finally (yes FINALLY) going back to the same place that changed my life, and words can not describe exactly how happy i am.  

And that was my ode to Ometepe.

 

Fin De Semana Pasado

Hola! 

I went to the beach with my friends! I don’t know what is more exciting, the fact i have friends or the fact that i went to the beach! Kidding, but Maggie, Anna, Jess and i took a day trip into Leon. To begin this awesome trip we started at UCA bus station. And let me tell you, this is my first experience with a bus station and it was crazy. People yelling everywhere, taxis and buses flying through the little station, i loved it.

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Once we all arrived at UCA we took a micro bus to Leon, about a hour ride cost us $51, a little more than 2 American dollars. In Leon we walked around a little bit and ate at Pan y Pas. A french bakery which just happens to be the home where our lovely UAM advisor Mary-Helens husband lived before the revolution happened and his house was seized. (Just a side note, i met Mary Helen today and she is a lovely women! UAM has the best staff. They are all so welcoming!) The cafe was beautiful and the food, delicious. I have to say i like Leon a whole lot better than Managua. Less people, it’s quieter and cleaner and i didn’t get cat called at quite as much, which is always a plus. We explored for a little while then the girls told me we were taking a bus to the beach. Now here in Nicaragua there are many types of buses. The buses that are like city transit, the buses that are small like the one we took to Leon or these crazy colored school buses that carry a billion people and usually have people hanging out the back of them…..we took that one, the crazy colored one and it was awesome. One of my goals for living the vida nica (living the nicaraguan life) was to ride on one of these buses, and hang out the side of them….and i did it (on the way home but i still did it, sorry mom!) Image

So we got to the beach, i believe it was La playa Soypoa and the waves (holas) were HUGE, the biggest waves i’ve ever seen in my life, topping like 12 feet tall if not more. The ocean was so wonderful though. When we weren’t getting carried away with the waves, it was so nice to be in warm water….beats the beaches of Maine, thats for sure. As Maggie said it best “There is no better feeling than being taken by a wave.” It was amazing, and we had the whole place to ourselves! With the exception of a few locals, nobody wanted to brave the giant holas. 

 

Later, we went out to dinner as a last good bye to Jess 😦 She left on sunday, because her time in Nicaragua was done….so sad! Jess is awesome. 

And sunday was not exciting at all, i am a little sick so i slept all day. It was the perfect rainy/stormy day to do so, so it works.

Today, i had class as usual and learned a ton, as usual. But i did discover a new artist mexicana. Check out her song: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=y8rBC6GCUjg

Pretty catchy. Until tomorrow! Hasta Luego! 

Kailie

 

Pescado Y Mercados

Today has been such a wonderful day! The sun was shining all day while mi Profesora Ana and i explored the city! We started at the old cathedral in Managua. After the earthquake in Managua about 30 plus years ago the cathedral was destroyed. All that is left is the shell. Everything inside has been removed, it is truly very beautiful. Image

We then went to El Mercado Humbles con mi profesora Ana. Ana and I shopped a little bit, learned some numbers in spanish and got to experience very large market. A first we went to the hand craft section which was filled with fun little things. After, we went into the food section that had everything from carne (meat) to mint leaves and papayas (as you can see in the picture below) ImageAfter that Ana insisted that we visit a chocolate store, and of course i was more than willing to go!  All the chocolate at Momotombo is organic and made right inside the store. We munched on plenty of samples and our own truffles for the road! ImageIt was nearing lunch time so we decided to go to a local restaurant that Ana enjoys. They were having a buffet special for 85 Cordobas or roughly $4USD. The food was delicious. We both had pescado, fish, that came whole (as you can see). It was delicious, as all the food in Nicaragua is, or has been so far 😉  

ImageAfter our day i met up with a friend from the Island of Ometepe on Lake Managua that my Break Away group and i met during our alt break there two years ago. Yeri is such a great guy! He goes to a university in Managua in which he had to receive a scholarship to go to. So very proud of him! It made my day seeing him! And even better, we planned out a trip to Ometepe, in the same village we worked at two years ago! I will be there all next weekend. We have planned to hike up to the waterfall on the island, get pretty tan and ride his families  horses! Can’t wait! One week from today!!

All in all today was yet another day in Managua, and a great one at that. 
Be grateful for all that you have and love one another.

-Kailie

 

The Shock Is Over

I’ve always known i’ve had a drive to explore. It started back in Unionville, CT behind our condo in the woods where i would spend hours making sense of my new found world and now i am here, in an actual completely different world exploring the country and the treasures that hide amongst it. I don’t know what it is, but today it hit me. I think the shock is finally over and i am slowly moving into a new lifestyle and no words can describe how truly awesome it is. 

I have way too much to reflect on, i don’t even know where to start. I guess tomorrow is a good place. Tomorrow my professor and i are traveling to el Mercado Humbles which is apparently a huge market place in the city. I am very excited to one, be traveling with my very sweet profe and two, be exploring yet another part of Managua!

Also, I have also been talking to some local non-profits about working with them after classes and what not. So that’s exciting and i’ll keep y’all updated on that. 

Other than that, i will make sure to take photos tomorrow and what not. Hope everybody is doing well back in the states. After you are done reading this, take a second to reflect on your own life, what you have and what you don’t. The little things become a lot less trivial when you remind yourself that there are people in this world who would love to walk in your shoes everyday but will never have the opportunity too.

Sending peace your way,

-Kailie 

My Spanglish Is Phenomenal

Hola! Sorry for the wait my friends, it’s been a wonderful last day and a half and i have just been super busy running around Nicaragua.

School is pretty awesome, i never thought i would be so excited to go to a spanish class at 8:30 in the morning for 4 hours at a time. But my profe, Ana, makes it worth it. We get so much done, all in spanish, for those whole four hours. It’s wonderful! I think i have learned more in the last two days of class than the whole four years i was at Farmington High School. (oh burn) 

So, as you can imagine, it has been pretty damn hot here. We (the international students and some nica friends and i) spend a lot of time in air conditioned spaces, especially after we walk to them 😉  I have taken a liking to Tona, the Nicaraguan beer as well as the atmosphere of Managua. This city is absolutely wild, people everywhere, all the time just doing whatever they want. But they are also very hard workers. For example, mi padre nica, my nica dad works extremely hard, i’m not sure what he does yet but he always comes home so tired but yet always so eager to talk about our days over dinner! 

I am so lucky to be living with such an amazing family in a great location! I can walk to school everyday, it’s quite the experience. 

I can write so much! But i have to go! I will make sure to post more pictures as they come in 🙂 

adios amigos 

 

Dia de Orientation. June 3, 2013

Yay! Today was such a great day! I woke up super early because i was so excited to go to school then went to school and had orientation.

At orientation i met Stephanie, my mentor here at UAM. She is awesome, i can’t wait to get to know her more! She showed me around the campus, which is bigger (and in some parts nicer) than Johnson State College. I didn’t take pictures today, i am trying to fit in a little bit…i mean the really white skin probably throws a lot of people off but i don’t want to be the chella con un camera (white girl with a camera)..not yet at least.

After the campus tour Stephanie invited three of the International students out to lunch with us and my spanish teacher! We had a great time and i tried a quesillo, a tortilla with cheese and cream and onions wrapped inside of it. SO good. We eat them in a plastic bag, first you take a bite or two, tie off the top of the bag, shake it around a bit and bite off to bottom of the bag and munch through it that way. It was delicious and so filling. (#3 new thing!) 

My spanish teachers name is Anna, she is from Spain and i am her only student for the  entire time i am here (how lucky!). We will work together Monday – Thursday 8:30-12:30 then on Fridays we do excursions throughout the country. Anna seems wonderful! We have our first day of class tomorrow morning! 

After lunch my new friends and i went to a cafe and hung out. We also went to go see Los Rapidos y Los Furiousosos  (I didn’t spell that right, but the fast and the furious) at the movie theater at the mall. They all are very cool and have really embraced the nica / managua culture. They also have a lot of good pointers! It was such a great time! 

I feel like i did SO much today and i only told you about a few things. All in all, today was an amazing day and i can’t wait to spend my month of June in Managua.

For all my visual friends, i did post some pictures with this blog. One, from the UAM facebook page. Stephanie made a status , just shows how awesome UAM is (and Stephanie too!) and a really embarrassing selfie of me and my new international student swag i got this morning. 

Enjoy! y bueno Noches! Good night! ImageImage