What I’ve been up to: Post Under Construction!

This is an except of what I wrote to family and friends between March 21st and April 17th.

Update from March 21st, 2010

The beach at San Juan del Sur

San Juan del Sur vista. Image via Wikipedia

  • I went with one of my co-workers and a group of Taiwanese guys to San Juan del Sur, which is a beach on the Pacific Coast. It was a great time… but a word to the wise: SPF 15 doesn’t cut it when you are so close to the equator. I’m red as a lobster.
  • I’ve been very busy at work. I’m sorting and analyzing data for the past year’s medical donations, writing a couple stories on education and healthcare and assessing need at a local clinic. I finished my first grant proposal the other day. If it is accepted, a new clinic will be built in one of the departments we serve. I am very excited about this and await the response.
  • I’ve been traveling as well for work, visiting different clinic sites and monitoring/evaluating our programs all over the country. For example, this coming week I will be up in the northern mountainous region of Jinotega where it actually gets cold!
  • I’m in the process of preparing a proposal for a project of my own and overall, am very satisfied with the experience I’m having.
  • I have my own office with air conditioning, a desk, and wireless internet. If I need any data, I can walk down the hall and ask the person to find it for me in the database, and it is emailed to me within minutes. So very efficient… it is very satisfying to be able to help the poor here in so many ways.
  • I will be moving from my residence in the slums to a room in the city in early April. This first month living amongst the very poor has helped me get better insight into how we can improve their lives.

Anyways, it’s back to work tomorrow. I look forward to the new projects and challenges (and air conditioning!!) to come in the next couple weeks and hope you all are well. I may be extending my stay another month or more. We shall see about that though. More to come.

Update from April 4th, 2010

I’ve moved! I’m now in the city of Managua (as opposed to Ciudad Sandino, which is about 20 minutes away). I’m staying at a nice bed and breakfast with international guests here from a few days to a couple months. At the moment, there are 2 Canadian girls and 1 Italian fellow. There is a large patio out back where one can sit underneath the large mango tree and relax in the shade, but you have to be careful, as the mangos are ripening and drop off the tree at random intervals. If you don’t get knocked unconscious by a falling mango, you can easily pick it up, wash it off, and eat it. Very tasty.

My boarding room in the city.

My room is off this large patio area, a few steps from the house and is very comfortable. It’s been scorching hot, but I’ve grown accustomed to this heat without respite from air conditioning. I usually take a nice cold shower (after all, that’s the only water temperature) a couple times a day, hydrate, and stay in the shade. The food is excellent; it is a mix of traditional Nicaraguan food and international cuisine. The owners of the B&B are a mixed Nicaraguan-Swiss couple, with the wife being a local and the husband being the European.

It’s fun to have more of a social experience here in the city, but I will miss my friends out in Ciudad Sandino, despite the constant dust mixed with the on-and-off electricity and water. At least now though I can walk around, hail a taxi, and be generally more independent.

For this past Holy Week, there are have been several processions at local churches, carrying the image of Christ around the block a few times with some music and fanfare. This seems to be the norm for religious events. There is a large Evangelical movement here. They are the movers and the shakers, with loud music, dancing, singing and believe it or not, fireworks. Yep, fireworks. That seems to be the way to welcome the Resurrection as I found out this Easter morning at 8am. I guess that’s just the lively nature of the Central American people though. This joviality and noisemaking is not solely reserved for the Evangelicals, as at the end of Mass today, the priest announced “Ladies and gentlemen, Christ has risen!” and we all stood and applauded loudly, with whistles coming from all corners of the church. Just another cultural curiosity.

Update from April 17th, 2010

I’ve been diving headlong into a whole lot of work as of late. As of this past Friday though, I can happily say that I have 5 grant proposals under my belt, in areas of water and sanitation and healthcare improvement, as well as a complete drug donations database with trends from 2009 and a few trips to local clinics and dispensaries that we donate to.

I have exciting news in addition to that, though. I got my internship extension request granted! They like the work I do here and will be able to pay me for another month, so I will be in Nicaragua until early June (1st, 3rd, somewhere around then). I’m excited about what more I will be able to do with another month of work here. This coming week, for example, I will be going with a few co-workers to deliver wheel chairs around the Managua area to a list of people in need. I am in charge of putting the chairs together while one of my co-workers interviews the beneficiaries. Then I take a couple pictures and at the end of the day, translate the interviews. In a 2-week period, I will have assembled 50 wheelchairs by hand! I got preliminary training on how to do it by some of the warehouse staff, and will construct another few on Monday to make sure I have it down pat.

Just the other weekend, our organization had a family picnic. We all gathered to play a game of baseball and eat some food in the morning. I enjoyed it a lot. Did pretty well at the plate, knocking in a few RBIs and getting 2 doubles. I’m a little rusty on defense, but with the practices we have after work on Friday, I should be up to par in no time. I continue to follow the Braves as the fanatic that I am.

The rainy season begins!

And another bit of exciting news: rainy season is beginning! Today it poured for hours. That really cooled things off. It’s about 75 degrees as I type this. Humid, but with a nice breeze. I look forward to seeing a green country rather than the burnt old and dry brown country that I’ve been living in for over a month and a half.

Other than that, life is comfortable here at the B&B. There are always international folks coming and going. A couple nice Canadian girls were here for a while and now there is an Italian man that I practice my Spanish with. The couple that runs the B&B have some Swiss friends down the street, so at dinnertime, if we have guests, there are usually 3 or 4 languages being spoken. Very entertaining.

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