Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Another week come and gone already – I’m writing this on Tuesday, which means today marks three weeks since I flew into DC for staging. It seems like it’s been so much longer than that, though the last week has absolutely flown by.

We have a lot more to do now; the first week and a half or so was almost purely basic survival Spanish, at least for us in the lower level of language ability, and adjusting to the total culture shock. Now that we’re a little more familiar with the area and the language, we suddenly have a hundred things to do...

We’ve met two or three times now with the youth group we’ve formed: so far we haven’t done much except talk and play games, but next week we start giving our first “charlas”, or talks – one with the group and one in the local health center. Intimidating with the language barrier still very much in force, although it’s getting easier to understand other people, at least. Speaking is still stop-and-go to some extent – vocabulary is an incredibly, frustratingly stubborn obstacle – and I am definitely ready to stop sounding like a three-year-old. Sigh. We’re also starting to formulate the survey we’ll be carrying out in our training town: we’ve decided to interview people about myths and knowledge about HIV/AIDS, since the HIV rate in our municipality is worryingly high for the size of the population. We won’t be conducting the survey for a few more weeks, but wish us luck!

One of the strangest things has been catching glimpses of American culture here. Lady Gaga’s “Poker Face” keeps playing over TV advertisements for a local beauty pageant. There’s a Quiznos, a Subway, and a Sbarro in the mall in Managua – a mall that’s nicer by far than the nearest mall to my hometown. Today I watched “Invictus” courtesy of my host father and the thriving pirated DVD trade here... but with Spanish subtitles only, since something went weird with the sound and left only the background noise, with no speaking voices.

More adventures in food to report as well: pupusas, (the perfect finger food), which are a little bit like quesadillas with thicker, doughier ‘crust’ and usually cheese and frijoles molidas (think of a sort of thick bean sauce – a little thinner than refried beans,) in the middle, and as of today, pan dulce, which is exactly what it probably sounds like: basically a big crunchy bread thing coated in sugar. A little like fried dough, but less greasy. One other thing was a failure on the taste-front: a drink I think is called “chicha” or something similar, apparently very popular and traditional here. It’s made from maize and tastes a little bit like paste. I can’t decide if the tradition of coloring it bright, lurid pink makes it better or worse.

Irregular verbs in the preterite are on the agenda for tomorrow, along with planning our first charlas and heading to one of the local Ministry of Health offices for a technical seminar. I have finally unpacked my camera, as well, so hopefully I’ll have some pictures to put up here soon!

PS: I just found out that the fiesta patronal for my town begins this weekend -- 8 days of celebrating the town and its patron saint (Nuestra Madre de La Paz -- Our Lady of Peace) with traditional food, fireworks, and dancing! Should be very exciting; one of the famous dances that happens at a lot of these fiestas patronales is actually recognized as a World Heritage tradition. I´ll let you all know how it turns out!

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