Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Hello from Sabana Grande

Well, we are behind in our blogging, with a backlog of things to write about, including our favorite spots in Leon, the many afternoon excursions we did with our school there and our weekend with Uncle Andy visiting! We will post more soon about that, but right now we are in an internet spot in Ocotal, about 20 km north of our new home in  El Proyecto, Sabana Grande. FYI... its Nadine writing this time!

We left Leon on Saturday afternoon with Susan Kinne, the director of Grupo Fenix. Luckily we got the express bus north to Esteli, and from there a taxi to our next bus stop for the express to Ocotal.... it was a mob scene, but we did get on with all our stuff smashed in the luggage hold below. About dark, 6pm ish, we got to la tabla de Totogalpa, our stop, and were met by Yelba , the mom of our new house, her 14 year old daughter Scarleth, and their neighbor Yubelki,11. We had to drag all of our stuff about a mile to their house in the dark...it was not much fun!

The family and the house are lovely, though. Papa Jorge also works at the Solar Centre, and their son Angel is 7 years old and everyone, including the cutest little 2month old puppy, are very friendly..... which is good, as our spanish is still borderline and they do not speak English. There is electricity ..solar and conventional, in our house. No running water, but a good dry latrine and a shower stall to take bucket showers in, refreshing! Actually, it is cool at night, which is so welcome after the heat of Leon!

Today was the first day of school this year. We did not go, but instead worked on school work from PBES! We are going to do some short projects in this next 10 days while we are here before the  Mariposa School... Yesterday we visited the Sabana Grande school and the Solar Centre, checking out the solar cookers, efficent stoves, both wood and charcoal, a solar water destiller, solar lamps,and the in construction Solar Restaurant. Hopefully tomorrow we will start a painting project at the Centre, and possibly a gardening project at the school which just got a well!!!!

We have some great pictures, but we do not have our computer today, so they will have to wait to be posted...next time.

Friday, February 11, 2011

Spanish School

margot and the sign!
Hard at work with Cecilia

Florence getting her certificate of
 achievement from the school
Today was our last day of taking Spanish classes at Dariana Spanish School. They provide morning classes from 8-12 and activities in the afternoon (only on the week days). You can also do a home stay.We participated in all three for 3.5 weeks. The classes are 1 on 1, so everyone has their own teacher and usually students switch teachers every week. I (Margot) had the same teacher for the whole time (Cecilia), but my mom had one teacher for half the time (Carmen) and had another teacher for the second half (Glenda). All of the students are in one big room but at different small tables all around.

My teacher Cecilia and I played various games in Spanish to help me learn Spanish in a fun way. We also drew pictures and made crafts. Two days she did my hair like a Nicaraguan girl! A big part of learning Spanish is the verbs which are very complicated(!). Also we have to learn which words are feminine and which words are masculine so we can put the right prepositions in front of them. Some nights I had homework and some nights I didn't, but my mom got tons of homework each night! 

one of Cecilia's creations

another hairdo from Cecilia's class!

an aid to learning!

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Info about Nica

Nicaragua is the biggest Central American country, bordered by Honduras to the north and Costa Rica to the south.  It is about the same size as New York but the population is much lower (About 5.5 million in Nicaragua).The main language is spanish, although on the Atlantic Coast they speak a lot of English and Creole. The currency they use are Cordobas, which right now the exchange rate is about 22 Cordobas to 1 United States dollar.

The most common dish in Nicaragua is gallo pinto (rice and beans mixed together). There is also a lot of fruit and meat, chicken, pork, beef, and fish. Tortillas are also seen a lot. Most of Nicaragua is Catholic, there are 16 churches in Leon alone!

In 1821, Nicaragua (along with the rest of Central America) gained independence from Spain. But, fighting continued, especially because the USA wanted to prevent anyone else from building a canal across Nicaragua so they signed a treaty with Nicaragua to own the land but did not build the canal. An especially bad general  (Somoza) overthrew the liberal government and became a vicious dictator in 1937. The Guerillas (Sandinistas) fought against the Somoza regime for many years until 1979, when the Sandinistas gained power again. During the 1980's, the USA funded the Contras who fought against the Sandinistas, many people died and living in Nicaragua was hard and dangerous. Now the Sandinistas are in control of Nicaragua.It is much safer now and people are doing better.

Two tectonic plates meet under Nicaragua, and so there are 40 volcanos! The tectonic plates also cause earthquakes when they move against each other because the tension builds up and is released in the form of an earthquake. There was a 5.3 earthquake in Leon the first Friday we were here! Margot's teacher Cecilia was pointing at the ground and talking to the other teacher in spanish really loud and the chair started to move! That was a small tremor and everything was fine (except the water went out all weekend).

Nicaragua has lots of legends and myths and a whole museum about them. Most of them are about the Spanish because the Spanish conquered Nicaragua. In Nicaragua there are a lot of volcanos and some are active and some aren't active but you can still climb the active ones because they are monitored. There are many beaches because Nicaragua touches both the Atlantic and the Pacific Coasts. Even though it is one of the poorest countries in  the western hemisphere, Nicaragua still has lovely places and beautiful nature.