My first week in Nicaragua!

Hello all! So I didn’t write a pre-departure post- I was dealing with some stuff with my family, (which I would rather not talk about) but I will cover both my pre-departure anxieties and my first week here in this post. Once the spring semester ended, I was just working, finishing up saving to go on this trip. I managed to fund myself through vigorous fundraising and several jobs at a time. I honestly didn’t think I was going to be able to do this, and as I was waiting to go, it really never fully felt real until I first started saying my goodbyes.  Leaving Tallahassee is always really hard for me.  I love school, and I love Florida State. I have never felt more at home than when I started attending classes and living there full-time. But I have promised myself that I would also take advantage of all the opportunities FSU had to offer, including those of travel (well, especially travel).  So I said farewell to the comforts of knowing exactly what I was doing in my favorite city, Tallahassee, my boyfriend, and took a Greyhound bus down to Tampa a month after the semester ended and went straight for the airport.
I arrived in Managua, Nicaragua on Sunday at 12:50pm, which is a two hour difference.  I was immediately tested with my Spanish (which is so-so) when I arrived as I was going through customs and got my passport stamped. My host organization, Atelier Favela, had sent one of their cab drivers to come and get me, and I met Alfonso outside. From there, my confidence grew in using the language. I was able to have a conversation in full Spanish! Granted, my grammar was very weak, but we were understanding each other. Soon I was in Ticuantepe, which is where I’m staying. The house that the volunteers stay in is also where we teach.  There are 7 bunk beds in one room for the volunteers, a kitchen, a studio-styled room for the athletics classes, an outside class, and a living area.  There is no AC, so all the windows are open throughout the house.  There are 4 desktops in the living room for the students to use, and one of them is hooked up to the Internet.  The second day I went exploring in Grenada, one of the more touristy areas nearby.  I had several experiences with little boys begging, not only for money, but for the food or drink I had in my hand. It was nothing like I was used to. I ended up saying no, which was relatively difficult (this was a decision I had made before leaving if I was going to face this type of thing).  The next day classes started.  There were lots of children, and I was struggling a lot with Spanish.  I offered to teach taekwondo classes (I’m a blue belt), but my lack in Spanish hindered their progress. I’m really glad I brought my Spanish textbook so I can continue studying it.  However, I think that my struggle (and hopefully my progress later on) is worth noting. I may center my capstone in a comparison photovoice recording their progress with taekwondo, along with capollera (Brazilian martial arts form common here).  I also teach a woman going to a local university who’s working to learn English.  She wants to work at a call center as a translator. As I’ve explored more in Managua this weekend, a lot of people who are of higher social economic status know English, but the majority of people only know Spanish. We also had a party for the children’s day on Thursday, where we played duck, duck, goose (or pato, pato, ganso) and musical chairs. I am also working to learn capollera everyday. I have also found out I’m highly allergic to mangoes, which is really awkward because they’re an extremely common fruit here. More volunteers will be coming throughout this month.  I’ve been too busy this past week to really be sad or miss anything from home, but today’s my day off and I have to say I miss my boyfriend and my sisters a lot.  I’m assuming as time goes on and I continue being busy it won’t be a problem, but if I’m sad about anything, it’s that. Otherwise, I’m having the time of my life out here, despite the mosquito bites, allergic reaction on my face, and struggle to learn Spanish. I appreciate a lot of things in the US, but I also appreciate the way of life here.

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