A farm hand with a bachelor's degree:
Between family visits, limited time to type, drafting a grant proposal, and the general malaise of my Nicaraguan lifestyle, I have not updated my blog. Yet, given an honest assessment, I do not feel that I have much progress to report.
Relevant happenings in the life and times of this mountain gringo:
My wife to be and my cousin came to visit--we had lots of cultural 'intercambio'. I sprained my ankle and had some night fevers (my doctor confirmed that it was nothing serious). I also had to move to a new house, which includes a new host family experience. I'm part of the family now and I am grateful for the new interaction.
I turned in a USAID grant proposal draft for a community grain mill project. I started a small, hopefully sustainable library out of a used grain sack; we have 30+ books now and so far there is good participation. I am trying my best to teach English in a small group night class. The community has a lot of interest in English...until they realize that it takes work and patience...
We've been successful in the application and promotion of an organic/natural pest control method for the coffee. We observed results for this safe alternative to chemicals and the local producers had a meeting to learn about the technology, a natural fungus that kills coffee boring beetles ("la broca").
I've been reading and cuddling my cat, "Chilote" on the rainy days...Lago Apanas is filling up and too much rain has hurt some of the grain harvest (corn!). I'm still experimenting with cheese and fermentation in my spare time...
Lastly in September, I would say that I learned a bit more about being a man. Manhood is not measured by amount of chest hair in Nicaragua, but rather by your skill at balancing multiple cabezas of bananas on your back while hauling them out of the muddy tropical forest.
All I can say is that I am trying my best. Cultural differences tend to wear me down. I miss things about the lifestyle and the relationships I had in the States. I often feel under-utilized here...just like the locals are under-employed.
In October I was able to visit the U.S. for three weeks. I enjoyed the time to evaluate my situation, buy some North American gifts, and starting planning for graduate studies after the Peace Corps.
I will never let go of my experiences living here. I love my host family almost like real family--annoyances included and I am still in awe of the cloudy mountains that I see from my doorstep. Oh, I may did not mention that my doorstep is now a wood ramp that enters a coffee mill (beneficio humedo). My new home is a cozy, elevated tool shed that I have converted into an apartment.