Thursday, December 18, 2014

Accomplishments

Hello!

I've been back in the States for a little over a week now, and while I love seeing my friends and family here, I gotta say, guys: I'm missing Nica. Weird, right?! Every time I come home, I don't think about Nica at all whatsoever because it's hard to think about Nica when you're so busy stuffing your face with hamburgers and hot dogs since, you know, that's what all Americans eat three times a day every day. Actually, I really miss Nicaragua because I feel like I've finally gotten into the right place and a great routine down there. So yes, I miss it! However, instead of continuing whining, a skill in which I exceed, I will fill everyone in on the events that took place before I came home.

For starters, I finally did one of the things I've been the most afraid to do during my whole time in Nicaragua: drive.

"I'm Erling Téllez and I approve this message."
Anyone who has been to Nicaragua, or Central America for that matter, understands what a big risk that is! Here is the basic principle of driving in Nicaragua: You and ONLY YOU have the right of way - not pedestrians, not any other vehicle, not roadkill, only you. You don't have to wait for anybody. You just go as fast as you can and if anyone dares to get in your way, it's their fault, not yours! It sounds nice until you're on the receiving end. In retrospect, it probably wasn't that big of a deal, but nonetheless, it was another goal accomplished! On this particular day, we went with a group of friends in our hall to a beach in Corinto. It was a great afternoon spent with people who have become great friends.

Us with Erling, Rebecca, Jennifer, & Douglas.
Another major accomplishment occurred, but for Ben and Bree: they did their first demonstration in Spanish together. It was the demo about starting a Bible study on the first Saturday of the month, and they smashed it.

As for what happened next, well...remember San Cristobal? The volcano adjacent to Chinandega? Remember how it erupted right when I arrived in town in September 2012?

Remember how it erupted again just three months later and spewed ash all over town, resulting in many damaged lungs and evacuations?
Yeah, I was walking to get my morning coffee that day when I looked up and saw THIS.
Well, we hiked it last week! (Kids, please do not look to me as a good example.)

Actually, we semi-hiked it. We wanted to reach the top by sunrise, mainly because hiking it in the hot sun would've tripled the difficulty. That involved staying up until 2:00 AM and riding with the tour guides to a farm where the trail began. The drive to the farm was supposed to take about an hour, but the road was pretty rough - rough, but not impossible to navigate. All that is required is some ambition and work ethic, neither of which our truck driver had. We weren't even halfway to the farm when we got stuck in a rough patch of the road. We could have easily made it out and did everything we could to guide our driver out of it, but he seriously would not listen to a word we said. He did the opposite of everything we suggested and even when we tried to smooth out the path for him, he refused to drive through. I can understand that it was 2:00 in the morning, man, but we're paying you for a service! We spent about 45 minutes arguing with him/trying to help him until we realized how much time we had wasted. He wasn't going to drive us there, so we had no choice but to just leave him (along with the truck) and walk to the farm ourselves.

Walking to the farm was a hike itself. It took about two hours, and it was just as physically exerting. We were supposed to reach the farm by 3:00 so we could make it to the top of the volcano by sunrise, but we didn't arrive at the farm until about 5:00. I would've preferred to just finish the whole hike anyway since we had already gotten that far, but I also had to leave for the airport at 4:30 that afternoon. Actually, I would've finished it anyway, but another brother in our group who was leaving on the same flight as I was still needed to get back to León to pack his things. All of that, along with the fact a few others in our group weren't feeling that well, led us to the decision to call it a day (or night? We all got mixed up!) and finish it another time. We were disappointed, but we didn't consider the trip a waste by any means! While we were waiting for another truck to come pick us up from the farm to bring us back into town, we still managed to hike up a portion of the trail to get some decent photos.

Pretty satisfying view!
I have to say, being able to view Chinandega from the volcano that has been the background in so many of my photos all this time was a very satisfying experience. For once, the town itself was in the background! It has been such an intriguing aspect of my time in Chinandega ever since I arrived, and it was very cool finally checking it out. Although we only did a portion of the hike, it still felt like another major accomplishment - this time, for all of us. 

Don't be fooled. The top was a lot further than it looked!
After making it back to town, it was a mad rush to get ready before I had to leave for the airport. I will say, though, that it was frustrating having lost an entire night's sleep and not finishing the hike! It really threw off the rest of the week, but I've managed to catch up on all that sleep now, thankfully. I even slept on the airplanes, which I've never been able to do! Now, I've got a few weeks left here in the States and then it's back to Chinatown. I'll report during that time if there's anything worth reporting!

The result of me checking to see if my camera timer was working. Apparently, it was.
Sidenote: I noticed that this page has now gotten over 25,000 visits. Thank you all for keeping up with me!

Take care,


Sam

Friday, December 12, 2014

The Sea House

Hello!

Yes, I know, I've missed a few weeks, but we've had a lot going on, which I will proceed to explain in this long post, so kick back, relax, and please keep your cursor away from that exit button!

A few weeks ago marked a historic event for some of our friends in La Norte as Bree showed them how to concoct one of the most intriguing concoctions in all of concoctivity: a burrito.

Before I get 37 comments saying, "Don't they eat burritos every day three times a day?", let me just tell you: No, they do not. Burritos are a Mexican dish. Mexican things come from Mexico. Mexico is not Nicaragua. Good night.

It was very entertaining to watch Bree show them the ropes. Although they turned out a tad too spicy, it was a smashing success, so much so that Mayerling demanded a copy of the recipe for herself! And, of course, yet again, the night had to turn into a mini-dance party.

My studies with Jorgito have been going well, and now, thanks to Eduardo and Zach, they've gotten even better. They came up with the idea to get all of the coloring and picture activities from the website bound into several books for the kids in Ojo, and they gave me a copy to give to Jorgito! I gave it to him on Friday and he loved it. We did the picture activity about Noah's ark and were able to have a good talk about the lessons learned. Since he and Sandra are attending meetings now, we also watched the new Caleb video about commenting.


Alright, now let me get to the big stuff. For the very first time, my parents came to visit Nicaragua! Actually, it wasn't just them. Bree's father, Lenny, and my sister, Kayla, also came down! They only had a week free to come down over Thanksgiving break, but we made the most of their time here. For starters, this is how they were welcomed at the very quiet airport:

  video

The fact that I'm writing this more than two weeks after the fact but still being able to vividly remember specific moments from their visit says a lot - my sister having an argument over getting ripped off within the first five minutes of their arrival, my parents not realizing that my friend Moisés could actually speak English, my mother bargaining with a street vendor, just so many moments. *Sigh.*

For starters, the Mainers spent the weekend in Chinandega to meet everyone and see where I've been hanging out all this time. It was a very surreal experience for me. I've been coming back and forth to Nicaragua for over three years now, and during that time, I had always imagined how my parents would act in different situations, and to see all of it become reality was worth the wait. After a day of kicking back at the nicest hotel in town (perks!), they came to La Norte's public meeting.

The Roberts & the Martins taking over Chinandega.
The meeting was a fun experience for everyone. We helped the visitors prepare their own comments and they all did a great job delivering them! It was also really nice for them to meet my friends in La Norte. Even though nobody had a language in common, everyone was nonetheless thrilled to meet each other. Sidenote: One of my studies, Edwin, came to that meeting with three of his seven kids! I was so happy, but I couldn't sit with his family and mine at the same time, so my friend Braulio looked after him for me. The kids also behaved perfectly for the whole duration. Hopefully, he'll come to more in the future!

Sunday was another memorable day. My dad, Kayla, and Lenny came out witnessing with us, an experience which can only be summed up by this picture:
Any caption ideas for what the man on the left is most likely thinking would be readily accepted.
Renee helping Kayla prepare for her turn.
All teasing aside (well, maybe not all), it was one of the most memorable mornings of service I've ever had. In addition to everyone being troopers by walking in the hot sun and humid air for two full hours, seeing them willingly participate with their simple presentations was more than I ever could have asked for. I don't think they truly understood what we've been dealing with here until that morning! We had as easy of a morning as we could have had, though, and ending it with some cold drinks at the café downtown.

Lenny doing a great job on his presentation.
That night, we had a good ol' fashioned Nica fiesta for the family. A lot of our friends from La Norte came as well as Ervin & Yorleni, my two good old friends from Ojo de Agua. There was dancing, there was games, and there was gallo pinto, prepared by yours truly! Yeah. That's right. I did it. Well...I did have a bit of help from Tanya, Chelsey, and Darling, but it turned out great! We actually made way too much of it, but thankfully, everyone was willing to bring some home with them. But you see, a Nica fiesta includes many other things besides the aforementioned. Other necessary happenings include an excess of soda, a lack of enough fans, and an inconceivable amount of sweating. My family had the pleasure of experiencing it all.


If you're wondering why I'm making these pictures so small, it's because I'm trying to cram way too much into one post. But you can enlarge the pictures by just clicking on them!

After the party, we finished off the week by renting an incredible house in San Juan del Sur. Considering it was the first real vacation my parents ever had since they got married, they wanted to go all out, and boy did they ever. 

 


The house was the perfect getaway, and being able to experience it not only with my family but as well as with close friends that might as well be family was pretty cool as well.


The whole visit was one which none of us will forget for sure! Many of my friends also told me that meeting my family helped them to understand why I am the way I am a lot more. Good thing or bad thing?

Okay, that's seriously all I can write for now, because did I mention I'm writing this from Maine?! I'm just back for a few weeks for a wedding and then I'll be back in Chinatown for Memorial season. I've got more to report on things that happened before I left Nicaragua, so I'll try to write about that ASAP!

Talk soon,


Sam