Saturday, March 27, 2010

news from Honduras... I mean, Nicaragua

Here I am back again from my week-long site visit, and the bowl of fruit I had this morning for breakfast was the most delicious thing I have eaten in what feels like a long, long time. But let me start at the beginning...

My new home is tucked away in the mountains in the very north of Nicaragua, very nearly in Honduras. (We watched Honduran television the whole time I was there -- I've now become invested in a Honduran soap opera called “Doña Barbara” which is overly dramatic and therefore hilarious, as every good fotonovela should be.) It’s a tiny town, with two main streets running parallel to each other and not much else except the school and health center.

(The main drag)

(The health center)

It’s also small enough that I now know probably 80% of the kids’ names, mostly because they came looking for me and we played fútbol in the middle of the street every night I was there -- lots of fun!

(New friends!)

The area is a pretty arid part of Nicaragua to begin with, and last year there wasn’t much in the way of rain during the winter (which is May-October, which is really throwing me off), so as of right now, the hottest part of the year, it’s all dry as a bone and incredibly dusty.

(Everything is dry dry dry... and dusty)

(The views are pretty awesome though)

(The local river... good for everything from bathing to washing clothes)

Through some kind of combination of the local climate and local customs, people here hardly ever eat vegetables. Ever. Really. For every meal (and I mean every meal) at my new house, I ate rice and beans and tortillas in some kind of combination, with occasional boiled potatoes, fried plantains, french fries, or fried eggs to mix it up a little bit. So coming back to my training family, who is weirdly into fresh vegetables for a Nicaraguan family, has been a wonderful thing. (Plus we have an indoor toilet, even if we don’t have running water -- what a luxury!)

Between the poverty level and being unaccustomed to eating fruits and veggies, malnutrition is a pretty rampant problem in my area, so I think that’s something I’ll be working with quite a bit in terms of health education and trying out ways to make things more available, starting at the health center’s little store, which only sells junk food. There’s also a lot of work to be done with teenagers, mostly with preventing teen pregnancy. I met a pregnant 13-year-old and a 17-year-old who was pregnant with her second kid -- there are so many factors tying into the high teenage pregnancy rate here in Nicaragua (these kids’ stories are not uncommon), but that’s definitely one of the things I’ll be working on.

For now, though, it’s back to classes for another two weeks, and the final set of language and technical interviews to make sure we all meet the requirements for swearing in. Time flies so fast; it’s unbelievable!

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