Well here I am, only three days into training and already loving it. They've got wireless here at the orientation retreat, so I'm going to write a post now, seeing as how we're leaving tomorrow and I may not have this reliable internet access in quite a long time. Where to begin.....
Nicaragua is amazing! Staging in DC was intense and brief, and we will never again interact with the people who trained us, though we did get a chance to meet all the big wigs in the central Peace Corps system, which was kinda cool. Other than that, I would say it was fairly useless. Everything that directly applied to us was repeated within the first couple days of our retreat here in Managua, but more applicable and valid. The DC trainers pretended like they knew what they were talking about, the Nica trainers actually knew what they were talking about. But whatever, they gave us all $120 for our one night out on the town and the travel to Nicaragua, along with the $60 I got as reimbursement for the plane ticket to DC (sorry mom and dad, I asked them if they could reimburse you, but they gave it to me in cash so that wasn't really an option), so I suddenly had a ton of money that I didn't need, leading to several extravagant and unnecessary purchases, including an expensive dinner in Georgetown and several snacks for the plane ride that I haven't even opened yet. And I still have $85 american dollars! I suppose once we're set up with bank accounts I'll be able to deposit it in there and translate it to córdobas (nica currency) so I can actually use it here.
Oh so much to talk about! Everyone in my training group is super awesome, very outgoing, friendly, easy to talk to, it's just great. Interesting fact: along with being the 50th training group in Nicaragua since the program restarted in 1991 (equipo de oro! woo!), our Ag group is the first to be trained in May (instead of September), the first to go through training with Small Business Development trainees (used to be with environment peeps), and the first to do our PST (pre-service training) in villages to the south of Managua (instead of in the north, near Estelí). What this makes me think is that our posts will probably be in the south as well, since they've been talking about expanding the ag program down there instead of being focused in the northwest and north-central. This is a bit of a double-edged sword, in my opinion. On one hand, I'm excited that I'll probably be starting my own program, instead of picking up where some other volunteer left off. On the other, I have a feeling my site will be in the south (maybe in the same area as my training town), which means no horses. Sadness.
So I just got my training family assignment, and how exciting it is! My mom's name is Fanny, I've got a 23-year-old brother named Eduardo, and 2 sisters, one 25 and one 16 or so. An 80-year old grandmother and no father (one of the volunteers guesses he either lives in Costa Rica or the States) evens it out. They live in a small village in the south of Masaya department, about half an hour south of Managua (sorry, can't post specifics here, for fear of stalkers and whatnot). I'm definitely gonna get Eduardo to show me the local hotspots and teach me some sweet soccer moves. It's gonna be awesome.
Que más.... we went on a tour of Managua today, and now I'm thinking the reason they waited until our last day to give the tour was to make us realize how crappy this town is and get us even more excited to get the hell out. It truely is quite a sight, there's a huge shanty town right next to the capital, that apparently was constructed by a bunch of protesters a long time ago and just stayed up. Buses packed to the brim with commuters, taxis with 3 or 4 families squashed inside, motorcycles weaving between cars, official-looking guards with big guns around anything that looks valuable or governmental, sandinista graffiti and billboards all over the place, trash in the streets, cows and donkeys roaming about, urban poverty at its best. I can't wait to get out to my training site. I think I'll be able to handle the bucket showers and latrines.
Okay, I have to wrap up this blog now, got some euchre games awaiting. Por fin, I'd just like to reiterate how damn excited I am about all of this. The next three months are going to be ridiculously busy and intense, but once I get to my site I am going to rock some worlds. Woohoo booyakasha!
Oh, PS, it turns out regular post is much more reliable for packages than FedEx or DHL, according to the volunteers. Just get a flat-rate box from USPS and pack it as full as possible. Here's my mailing address for the next three months:
Cuerpo de Paz
A.P. #3256, Managua