Day 16 - The Volcano and the Farewell

Before I begin, I need to take the time to thank all of my loyal readers who kept reading my blogs even through the vanity-flick guest writes, my stupid jokes, and my overuse of “to be” verbs (Kahn kids know what I’m talking about).  Today was ("to be" number one) our last full today in the land called Nicaragua.  Although we (especially me…) have given Catherine a lot of crap (jokingly of course) for her planning, everyone can agree that today was perfect. (Just to clarify, Catherine did a great job all trip, but it was fun to give her a hard time)

Mike got everyone up at 8 for our normal breakfast of granola, fruit, and eggs.  At 10, we left in a van (with too few seats, of course) to Mambacho Volcano.  It’s the giant volcano you can see everywhere in Granada and is only a 30 minute drive away.  There are 4 or 5 craters in the volcano.

The van driver kept us entertained with a “classic video mix” on the flip down TV.  The mix consisted of Kool and the Gang, Grease, and The Bee Gees music videos.  Punneh knew all the Kool and the Gang lyrics, Hannah led the way with Grease, but no one could match my falsetto on “Stayin’ Alive” by the Bee Gees.  Needless to say we were all in an up-beat, dancy mood when we arrived at the top of the volcano.  By “top of the volcano” I mean 1100 meters up the volcano, just at the base of where the “cloud forest” started.  This was the highest we went up the volcano.  We took a 45 minute hike around “Crater 1” which was formed by a volcanic eruption five hundred years ago.  Our guide took us to view points at various altitudes to look into the crater, out over Granada and the jungly parts of Nicaragua and out to Lake Nicaragua.  Apparently the crater looked like something out of Avatar (I haven’t seen the movie).  There was argument made that it looked like Fangorn Forest from Lord of the Rings.  Well, I just watched all three of the movies with my brother before I left and I was quick to disagree.  For one, this is a jungle while Fangorn is more of a Northwest type forest.  Secondly, Fangorn is pretty small in area compared to the vast area the jungle of Mambacho takes up (not to mention Fangorn is completely flat and Mambacho is a volcano).  Lastly, and what I consider the most obvious and important difference, the trees at Mambacho didn’t talk!  Honestly, I have never encountered a forest more unlike Fangorn.

During the hike, one of the groups ran into a family/herd/group (much debate occurred over the correct term) of Howler Monkeys.  Madeleine almost cried at how cute one of the babies was.  The tiny monkey gave us a scare when he almost fell off a branch into the abyss of the crater.  Luckily he managed to catch himself with his tail.  The other group only caught the tail end of the monkeys but they saw two three-toed sloths.  I don’t see the appeal of sloths but Hannah quickly announced that it was her new favorite animal.

Now is where the real fun begins.  The hike was fun and beautiful but nothing compared to what Catherine and the chaperones had planned next.  We took the van back down to the “lower forest” where we were completely out of the clouds and were basically in the jungle at the base of the volcano.  Alright, I know the suspense is hard to take so I will just spit it out: we went zip-lining.  This is a slightly confusing thing but basically we strapped into harnesses and put on helmets and walked into the forest.  We ascended a ladder onto a platform mounted in a tree and attached to ropes to a wire.  A man then pushed us and we slid along this wire, fairly quickly, across the jungle to another tree.  It was amazing because you have to conquer any fear you have of heights since you are basically jumping out of a tree and then flying at a high speed across the top of a jungle in between trees.  There were about 10 trees that we went overall and we probably zip-lined about a mile.  Some of the wires were fast and long and others were slow.  On the slow ones they had us do CRAZY things like go upside down.  I got up to attach my harness to the wire when the guy spun me around and flipped me onto my head and pushed.  So here I am flying across a wire 40 feet above the forest floor staring at the ground.  All the blood rushed to my head and it was pretty unpleasant.  But it was still extremely thrilling.  On the last leg of the zip-line, the man who stood at the end of each one to make sure we slowed down enough to not slam into the tree, started bouncing the wire. So now, as we’re going across this zip-line, we get thrown up into the air and go into freefall every second (still attached to the wire of course).  For the guys out there, you may empathize with us about having that harness strapped around your groin crotch area and having to bounce up and down… you get the point.  It was a little painful.

Just as we were thanking the Nicaraguan’s for our fun experience and hanging up our harnesses, the rain came.  And I mean to tell you, within 5 seconds (literally 5 seconds) the weather went from sunny and hot to rain coming down in bucketfuls.  It was almost like a flash flood.  All the water collected from the roads and we could see it flowing at amazing speeds down troughs in the side of the road to drain it.

The road still hasn’t stopped.  We just got back from dinner at the pizza place again.  Last time we experienced a typical pizza-eating outing for me:  no one says they like Hawaiian pizza but I push for it so we order one then everyone decides they love Hawaiian and eat it all.  A few other people noticed the same thing so, this time, Catherine ordered us 3 Hawaiian pizzas and only 2 vegetarian and combos.  The others protested saying “No then we’ll have too many Hawaiian left.”  Again I have to applaud Catherine’s leadership because the Hawaiian pizza was gone within 10 minutes and no one wanted anything else.  I got my filling though and I think everyone else did but I really hope people will finally learn their lesson: Hawaiian pizza is the best.

Tomorrow we have to get up at 3:30 AM… (this is the time where you grown and say “Aw Will I’m so sorry you have to get up so early).  Apparently the Managua airport is a “zoo” (Bob’s word) so hopefully we can get enough sleep so we are alert enough to maneuver our tubs and luggage all around the airport.

Now comes the sad part for me.  This is my last blog of the trip! It has been a ritual for me to come back from dinner, pull out the laptop and write.  I don’t know how I can stop.  I am pretty attached to it at this point.  I guess I have to stop at some point though.  Anyways, I’m sad the trip is over.  We learned so much about other cultures and people, and technology.  I know we all bonded as a group and hopefully we can have many photo parties and reunions in the coming months (Kate and Punneh’s schedules are the only problem).  Not too many though because I might get sick of this group… Just kidding.

I tried to cover as much as I could but realistically I only talked about group activities and things I was involved with.  When we get back make sure you talk to someone about the trip because I know there are so many great stories out there they I didn’t fit into the blog.  Nicaragua is an amazing country and if you ever have the chance to go, don’t pass up the opportunity.  Our TSC Nicaragua crew did a phenomenal job on our project.  A high school on Ometepe Island now has a fully operating computer lab that started with an empty room and some blue tubs that came from Seattle.  For a student to go to college, they have to be somewhat familiar with using a computer.  Our hope is that our computers increase the number of kids from the school and Ometepe in general that attend college and strive for higher education.  All the TSC members should be extremely proud right now.  I know I am.

Una ultima vez, adios y gracias.

-Will and the entire 2010 TSC Nicaragua team

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Day 15 - Masaya Not Messiah

Today was the great day of market shopping. We awoke at 8:00 with visions of hand-crafted traditional clothing, bags, and various other knick-knacks dancing in our heads. Breakfast was the normal granola with yogurt, fruit, and eggs. At 9:00 a money changer came so everyone could make sure they were stacked with enough money to buy gifts for all their friends and family. Here a 20 dollar bill gets you 400 cordoba, which, if you remember yesterday’s blog, is enough to buy you 4 Spain soccer jerseys. You get the picture: things are pretty cheap.

A van came to pick us up at 10 to take us to the market at Masaya. Masaya is about a 30 minute drive, but, unlike Ometepe, the roads are paved. Once again, the van we got was too small and we had to squeeze a few people in. At the market, we divided into small shopping groups and headed into the vast market ready to bargain and find the best deal on every souvenir we wanted.

It turns out that the market isn’t very big. From a spatial standpoint it’s fairly big, but then you have to consider that 80% of the shops carry the exact same merchandise. Most of the stuff was made in Guatemala, but when I pointed this out to a store owner as a reason why my item should be cheaper he responded, “No, no. The materials are from Guatemala but it was made here.” I still don’t buy that. I did buy the item, however. Overall the day was extremely successful and I think everyone got mostly what they were looking for.

The market trip lasted until about 3, when we reconvened at the hotel. Then the chaperones let us hit the town. The trips were mostly out to grab an afternoon snack before dinner. For dinner we went to this Irish pub (owned by an Irishman). Catherine got confused and tried to make a complicated order in Spanish and was struggling pretty bad. Luckily Punneh reminded her that the man was Irish and spoke English. Phew. A few of us ordered burgers, a few picked salads, and a few got pasta. The shocking part was that it took them almost 2 hours to prepare a burger. And the burgers were the first food item served to us. It was good to get food, because everyone was getting really unhappy.

This is a short blog, but today was a pretty leisurely day (although you wouldn’t guess that from Bob, who has fallen asleep while reading his book in the chair across from me). Tomorrow is our last day! Hopefully everyone can hold it together for just one more day. It should be fun since we are going to the top of some volcano and going ziplining. Curfew has been moved up so I’ll probably post this and then have about a half hour until bed.

Salida de emergencia,

Will

(I didn’t learn any Spanish today, but there is a sign I’m looking at that says “Salida de emergencia” so I thought I’d go with it.)

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Day 14 - (The World Cup Final) (and Jack's Birthday)

The main events of the day are clearly stated in the title. I couldn’t decide which was more important. I was either going to say “The World Cup Final (and Jack’s Birthday)” or “Jack’s Birthday (and The World Cup Final).” I had to decide which was more menacing: the wrath of Jack or the entire world. In the end I compromised and put both in parentheses so everyone is happy. Since its Jack’s birthday I gave in and told him he could write the blog. However, when I gave him the computer, he promptly erased all of this that I have typed so far and started it over with the title “Day 14 - Just Another Day and Jack’s Birthday” then said he didn’t want to write it. I will be writing it after all.

Breakfast at Hotel Con Corazon was at 9:30 this morning, earlier than anyone wanted to get up (especially Jack, so he slept in until 11 and skipped breakfast), but it was good food. Nothing really happened in the morning except logistics on how we were going to see the World Cup Final. After 2 hours of discussing, I was literally twitching with anticipation and forced them to hurry up. At 11:15 we left in 2 groups of 6 (Peter was sick with a fever but no stomach problems and Jackie was still resting). We were told to find a place to watch the game on our own and that there was possibly a giant screen being set up in the square.

A few of us decided it would be fun to run around the town really fast to find paraphernalia to wear during the game. Since I have been rooting for Spain since the beginning I convinced my group (apart from Abe who is already an avid supporter) to root for Spain with me. Upon running into some Holland supporters in the main square, we asked them where they got their jerseys. They directed us and we proceeded to look where they had advised. The store only had one jersey left and it was a Holland jersey. A worker there led us to another store which had kid’s Spain jerseys. Luckily for us, the jerseys were popular among toddlers and there were only 3 left and they were all size XXXL (no joke). Hannah, Madeleine, and I bought the full Spain kits (shorts included) for 7 dollars each (you need to make sure you see the pictures when we get back because we looked awesome). We suited up and headed out. Ben decided he wanted to go back and get the last Holland jersey the first store was selling so we did. Now here’s the scene: six white Americans walking through a Nicaraguan city, three of them wearing full Spain kits, one in Holland clothes, one with an extremely expensive camera around his neck and a money belt (Abe), and one with bright red hair (Izzy). One might say we were the most obvious group of tourists Nicaragua had ever seen.

We searched for a while and didn’t find the giant TV Bob had talked about. We asked someone and they said there was no such thing but pointed us to a street where there were places playing the game. The place we picked was a nice outdoor café with three large flat screen TV’s and lots of people ready for some football. Seated next to us were a group of 10 Dutch supporters who, by kickoff, had consumed at least 10 beers and were still ordering more. For the next few hours we sat watching the game and cheering and chanting “ESPANA! ESPANA!” with our fellow Spain supporters. It’s hard to describe but overall it was probably the most fun I have ever had watching a sporting event on TV. The atmosphere was amazing with the competing sections (Holland and Spain) and the game was extremely competitive and exciting. There were probably too many yellow-cards and definitely some chances that should have been put away early on in the game, but it was still thoroughly entertaining. When Spain finally scored in the 116th minute, the whole place erupted in cheers. I got up and started hugging all the Nicaraguans in our section who, by this point in the game, I had become close with even though I didn’t speak any Spanish but just simply through our common love of soccer. It was unbelievable.

When the scene had finally simmered down at our venue, the group headed out to find the other group of 6. We found them at a different café only a few blocks away. This place was much more hectic in celebration than ours was. We walked in to find members of our group dancing on the tables along with other tourists and Nicaraguans in both Spain and Holland jerseys. For the next hour or so everyone we (especially Hannah, Madeleine and I because of our amazing jerseys) passed, we screamed “ESPANA!” To which we received loud honks from the passing cars. Dancers took to the streets and that song that Bob made us listen to before we left (Waving Flag by Knaan) could be heard coming out of every building. Overall, it was an unreal experience. Best game ever. GO SPAIN! But Holland is really good too. They played so well and Arjen Robben is one of the best players in the world.

Just after 4 everyone arrived back at the hotel completely exhausted. Skylar and I both had lost our voices from screaming (there will be less singing at the hotel tonight; only Jack will be able to). Sweat drenched our bodies and we decided to take a swim. The water cooled us down and was so refreshing. For the next 2 hours everyone just relaxed and took showers. Laundry was done last night so everyone is in clean clothes and should be for the next few days.

We just got back from dinner at Don Luca’s Pizzeria. The pizza (which is obviously what we had) was really good. There were these two young Nicaraguan street venders (younger than us) who started pestering us. Their pestering quickly turned to chatter which turned to conversation which turned to arm-wrestling. These kids who were much younger than us turned out to be surprisingly strong for their age (although, of the TSC members they wrestled, they only managed to beat Punneh). My shoulder is still pretty sore because one of the kids claimed I was cheating every time I beat him and insisted on rematches (four of them).

To celebrate Jack’s birthday, apart from the card Madeleine made him in the morning, a mariachi band sang him happy birthday in Spanish and we sang it to him in English. Across the street was an ice cream parlor and Bob treated us all to a scoop of ice cream. On the walk back we saw break dancers, skateboarders, and lots of drunk people. As Abe explained to me after I commented on all the drunks, “Today is probably the single biggest day for drinking around the world.”

So, before I go, I’ll tell you about Peter. He stopped feeling well at dinner last night and went to bed early. He woke up with a slight fever and stayed in bed all day. Mike was NOT happy and is blaming how late everyone is going to bed (which is reasonable). However, curfew remains at midnight. Tomorrow we do have to get up pretty early because we are going to the market at Masaya. That should be fun.

I hope everyone enjoyed the World Cup today because we certainly did. Oh, and happy birthday Jack,

Will

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Day 13 - Hit 'Em Up, Move 'Em Out, RAWHIDE! - Goodbye Ometepe

Catherine woke us up today to complaints that she had promised us we could sleep in and was now breaking her promise by getting us up at 9 AM. I knew, of course, that we had to pack so we couldn’t sleep in, but Catherine lied to make us feel better. It was our last day on Ometepe Island. Mike and Bob were pretty stressed out about getting everything packed. Our Nicaraguan buddies were coming to eat lunch with us and say good-bye at the Finca at 11, so the chaperones felt rushed. We kids, on the other hand, weren’t concerned at all. By 10:45 AM we had all of the tubs packed and sitting outside on the porch.

The students showed up slowly. Not all of them came but enough came that the ones who were there didn’t feel awkward. We had rice and beans, of course, and some delicious chicken for lunch. Catherine started getting stressed around 12:30 when we should have been leaving but we were still eating. Goodbyes lasted a fair amount of time and we took probably 20 or 30 group pictures (the Finca worker who was taking them was afraid they’d be bad so he kept going “UNO MAS! UNO MAS!”). The goodbyes were sad and a few people cried. We loaded onto the bus just before 1:00 PM, which was literally the last second based on the calculations of what we could do to catch the ferry. Honestly I was a little bit worried about missing the ferry, but I trusted the driver once he got out on open roads and was able to drive 70 MPH and pass everyone.

Our calculations were incorrect and, even though we left behind schedule, we got to the ferry over an hour before it shipped off. The tubs were stored in some room on the ship. I took a nap and woke up an hour later just as the ship was leaving the dock. We had some arguments over whether or not the boat was the exact same one as the one we came in on. I’m pretty sure it was. It started pouring rain just as we were leaving. Our last view of Ometepe was not of the beautiful volcano covered in luscious, green rainforest, but of a small strip of beach overshadowed by a dark, ominous cloud engulfing the entire island.

We loaded into vans on the other side and set off to Granada. The car ride was long and it rained a ton, but we had that cool flat screen TV coming down from the ceiling to entertain us. Our entertainment was a few mixes of music videos. Somehow we managed to watch the “Move Ya Body” by Nina Sky video four times. They didn’t offer much variety.

Darkness had set in by the time we got to Hotel Con Corazon, but, upon entering the hotel, we all remembered why we love this place: air conditioning, beds with real mattresses, a clean floor, no beetles falling from the ceiling (or any bugs at all), clean toilets that flush, real showers, and, of course, Wi-Fi (immediately a queue formed for internet use to check Facebooks and emails, which quickly got out of control and I had to use my blogging powers to cut in line and say “I have to blog, it’s my turn”).

We went out to dinner at a restaurant “Comidas Tipicas y Mas…” For those of you who speak Spanish you’ll understand how funny this name is, but for those who don’t understand the name literally means “Typical Food and More…” After spending 15 minutes picking out our own individual dinners, Catherine intervened and said we were just going to order a bunch of big platters like usual. I was disappointed because I didn’t want rice and beans again; I wanted “chicken in a pineapple bowl.” The “pineapple bowl” sounded awesome. The food that came was giant platters of meat and spaghetti. It was actually amazingly good especially after waiting for what seemed like hours for the food. We are now back at the hotel. It’s 10:30 at night and people are putting on their swimsuits to go swimming. It should be a good night.

Tomorrow is Jack’s birthday so festivities may be in order. However, Jack’s birthday may be overshadowed by the fact that there is a giant, all-day festival at our local square to celebrate the World Cup and Hotel Con Corazon is setting up a huge projector to watch the game.

Viva Espana and I’m rooting for you (but I will not be disappointed if Holland wins because they’re awesome too),

Will

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Day 12 - Time is No Object

Today was our last full day on Ometepe. Catherine woke up the boy’s room, took a look around, and said, “Oh. My. God. How are you guys possibly going to pack all this?!” The room is a disaster. It was worse when the day first began because Catherine made us put all our stuff into one area of the room, even if we didn’t pack it, so by the time we left there was at least a skinny path through the middle of the room.

Jack, Abe, Ben, and Bob volunteered to go down to the school to work one last time in the morning to clean up the lab. Everything was done, it was just messy. The rest of us stayed at the Finca and slept in. Some guy was supposed to come in the morning and take us on a tour of the upper part of the Finca where they have some cool petroglyphs. Skylar saw a sign that said it was a 2 mile hike. Our interest diminished. By noon, the guide still hadn’t shown up so we assumed it wasn’t going to happen. It’s probably just as well that it didn’t, because we were all exhausted.

At 12:30, the work party returned to the Finca for lunch. Lunch was fish. Not just any fish but the fish that we caught yesterday on the lake. The sight of them fully intact with the skin still on them was fairly unappetizing, but the most courageous of us dug in anyway. Now this part you’re going to think I’m lying, but I AM NOT: the fish was so good. It was amazingly prepared and there was tons of flavor. All the fish were different species but they were all white fish. We got to pick apart the fish to our liking which for some meant taking a few bites and stopping and for others meant scraping at the vertebrae with fingernails to scrape off every last piece of meat. A few people told me I took it too far. My eating style did start to resemble my dad when I picked at a third person’s fish carcass after they were done.

Lunch went a bit long and we didn’t leave the Finca until the time we were supposed to be arriving at the school. It was hot again, and by the time we got to the school everyone was sweaty. On the way, the girls started freaking out about being late and that they would cry if everyone was just standing there waiting for us. Well, we arrived at the school and there was only 5 or 6 people already there. They were setting up for an event. The event was called “La Reina de la Maiz” (Queen of the Corn). It was like a dance and beauty competition. We got there at 2:00 PM. We were supposed to be there at 1:00 PM. The event didn’t start until almost 4. So had we been on time, we would have been even more miserable than we were for the 2 hours we had to sit in the blazing hot sun.

So here we are in the sun waiting for 2 hours when finally the emcee starts announcing things. The sky starts getting dark and it starts to rain immediately after the first act. It would rain through the entire event. If they had started when we got there or when they said they’d start, we could have avoided the rain. The girl that Catherine and I ate lunch with everyday, Jennifer, competed for the Queen title and did really well. It was all traditional dance with some weird breaks between competitors. There was this big lady who danced and lip sang a Spanish song. It was pretty wacky. Then another girl, who we knew from earlier encounters, did an EXTREMELY provocative dance with another boy. Abe describe it as a fertility dance. We didn’t get to find out who won the competition because it was a two-day event, but we’re rooting for Jennifer.

After Queen of the Corn, we headed to Ben the Ice Cream Man’s restaurant for our first dinner out. I’m going to go out on a limb and say that this was the best meal we had all trip so far. He made us lasagna and garlic bread. The lasagna was vegetarian so everyone could eat it, and the bread was addictive. We got ice cream for dessert. We lounged around and played games until 8 or so when Ben wanted to close up. At this time, we walked back to the school for the “fiesta.” Half of the group was dead tired and the scene of the “fiesta” was very unappealing. Basically, picture a basketball court full of tackily-dressed Nicaraguan men aged from 4 to 50 smoking and drinking, a smoke-filled room with music blaring so loudly that it hurt, and 3 Nicaraguan couples dancing to Latin pop music. For all intents and purposes, a normal dance. The large majority of the group that did not want to be there was extremely disappointed when it was announced that the bus to take us to the Finca wasn’t leaving until 11. That left 3 hours of “fiesta.” Enough people didn’t want to stay that Mike ended up arranging for the bus to come early and make two trips to pick people up. The few people who stayed said they had a great time.

Tomorrow we have to get up early to pack so that everything is ready to go when the Nicaraguans come for lunch to say good-bye. We should be to Granada by 3:30 PM by my calculations. But we’ll see.

I didn’t learn any new Spanish today and I am sad about it,

Will

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Day 11 - There's Always Fish in the Waterhole

Oh yeah. What a day. There will be no guest blog tonight as my resilience is strong, and I have had the most energetic day of the trip.

Today Catherine got us up at the normal time. And, by normal time, I mean she woke us up at 7:45, we said, “Go away!”, she left, came back and said, “No, for real. Get up,” and we said, “Bah, leave.” After a long sequence of this she came in and said, “We’re having pan tostado and French toast for breakfast.” This got us up. One thing you have to know is that the French toast they make here is the greatest thing ever. The other thing that must be acknowledged is that, ever since the start of my sickness, I have become addicted to pan tostado and so has everyone else who has at one point been sick. It’s basically just toasted bread with jam. But the special thing about it is that it is never the same. Two days ago I had seven orders in one day and every single order was comprised of bread that was cut in different shapes, with different flavored jam and different levels of toasting (all along the spectrum of burnt to a crisp to un-toasted). It’s always an adventure with toast, and it keeps us guessing and adds excitement to our day.

Excitement was not too hard to find in the morning, however. It rained during our walk to the school and we were forced to wear raincoats! The rain went away by the time we got to the school, leaving us to haul around our raincoats the rest of the day. The early rain left it cool the whole day.

The lab is completely set up now, so today was all teaching. Skylar continued his leadership commanding half of the Nicaraguan students in the computer lab. The laptops were set up in an adjacent room, which Ben took the reins of, to teach the Nicaraguans who were deemed “more advanced” in computer use, how to operate complicated programs like “Calculadora Grafica.”

Teaching went well, but everyone was exhausted by lunch. The students brought lunch to the school again. Catherine and I sat with Jennifer (Nicaraguan) and Juan “Cico” Francisco (his name is Juan but his parents call him Francisco and all his friends call him Cico - it’s confusing) like usual and everyone ate with their normal pairs. Hannah and Jack apparently had a very interesting conversation/gossip session with Yensi (their female lunch partner) about which TSC guy all the Nicaraguan girls thought was the cutest (results are still being counted).

After lunch was exploration time. The Nicaraguans were free to explore the computers. The one thing that is becoming really obvious to us is the lack of help the students need compared to the teachers. The teachers are timid around the computers while the students feel free to mess up, which results in them stumbling onto even more learning experiences. For the TSC members, this was break time. For the blogger, yours truly, this was the time to make the internet finally work so blogs could be posted and parents wouldn’t worry. The connection was terrible. I would click a web page, walk to another computer, play a full game of 3-D Space Pinball, enter my name into the high scores (Colin Butler, if you’re reading this, I beat 2 of your high scores today), walk back to the laptop, and click on the next web page. It took over 2 hours for me to post both of the past two day’s blogs. Success is my middle name, however, and I got it done.

At 3:00 PM we walked with the Nicaraguan students to la punta (just some point on the lake). One thing that I don’t think has been stressed enough is the ability of Bob and his loquacity to split up the group and make us late during walks. After Bob found a man on the street to talk to, all the Americans ran ahead except for Ben, Mike, and I, who realized that without Nicaraguan students to guide us, we would have no idea where to go. That thought apparently didn’t register to the others. Ben had a rough day (which I’ll report on later) and hadn’t had time to eat lunch. Mike agreed to buy us both sandwiches at Ben’s (the store owner Ben) ice cream store. Mike told us to go ahead with the Nicaraguans but wait at the turnoff to la punta so he would know where to go. Well, Ben and I got to the turnoff, decided that if we just walked back up the road we could find Mike and lead him to la punta which we now knew the location of. Ben and I walked all the way back to the store and didn’t find Mike. We asked someone and they told us that Mike had already left. We made the trek all the way back to la punta and found Mike waiting there. Thoroughly confused at this point, Ben and I were then told by Mike that he was going to the store to get our sandwiches. This is where the story ends because I gave up trying to figure out what happened.

By now I’m sure everyone is wondering what we planned on doing at la punta. The jefes (“bosses”) had arranged for some of the Nicaraguan students’ families to take us out in their boats to go fishing. We all hopped in boats, 5 people in each, and started fishing. The boats were medium-sized, wood canoe-like boats. They have wood ores and string ore-locks, but the way they row is much different from the way we row our row boats in the US. The way they fish is with one net which you wrap around your arm in this complex way then throw in to the water. You have to hold the net in a way that it unfolds completely open when it hits the surface of the water. Everyone was really bad and our throws ended up landing jumbled in the water and tangled the nets. The only people who caught fish were the professionals who were rowing the boats. Competitions to see who could catch the most fish commenced when Ben told me that my net throw sucked and tried to splash water on me. The person driving my boat was the father of the person driving Ben and Chara’s boat, so the rivalry was already fully flared. For 80% of the day, my boat was leading 6 pescado’s (fish) to 4 pescado. After a quick dip in the lake (we jumped off the boats), the tables turned and Ben and Chara’s boat had a pull with quatro pescado in the net. From then on it was a one way road. It was when the boats pulled up to the docks (the big rock we loaded on) that we realized how poorly we had actually done. My boat had 6 fish. The boat with Scott and Abe (the one with the least Americans) had 11. They took the prize for most pescado. We took the fish back to the Finca and apparently will be having them for lunch tomorrow. That should be interesting.

So now on Ben’s day. I told Ben I’d blog on him less, but as the Tech Lead he is just so important and interesting. After spending the morning teaching students (in Spanish) about programs not even he fully understood how to use, he spent lunch sorting laptops to find the best 4 to give to the teachers who were present. The teachers started grabbing for the nicest looking computers, of course, and Ben had to explain to them (in Spanish) how the best-looking computers weren’t necessarily the best computers. After that whole situation was sorted out, he taught each teacher individually how to use the basic programs like Microsoft Word and PowerPoint. Then he would learn that the math teacher had NEVER used a graphing calculator before. Ben says he assumed the teacher new more math than he did, but he wasn’t really sure. Overall, the day was really stressful for Ben especially after his illness the other day.

On the note of illness, Punneh stayed at the Finca resting, but she was match-ready and desperately wanted to help today. Other than that, everyone was healthy, if a bit tired, today.

Sunday, as you all know, is Spain vs. Holland, the World Cup Final (and also Jack’s birthday). Originally we were planning on arriving in Granada on Sunday and risked missing the game if the boat was late or something. I told Catherine I would never forgive her if I missed it. Obviously I scared her because she immediately changed the plans so that we are now leaving for Granada on Saturday so we can be settled in at Hotel Con Corazon by game time Sunday. Go Espana.

Tomorrow, three volunteers and a chaperone are heading down to the school at the normal time to clean up the lab. This should put the finishing touches on things. The rest of us are planning on going to some petroglyphs in the morning. After lunch, the students have planned a fiesta for us. This probably entails more uncomfortable dancing and “awkward cultural experiences.” We’ll see.

El pescado no es muerte,

Will

(“The fish is not dead.” This is a reference to how, instead of putting the fish out of their misery after being caught, the Nicaraguan fisherman let the fish flail, still alive, in a small pool of water in the bottom of the boat for hours. The fish flop around gasping and it’s a pretty awful sight. I guess it keeps the fish fresh longer.)

P.S. Heidi: Mike wants to know if it would be OK for him to have two of the Nicaraguan students here come stay at your house next year as exchange students. This is the new plan circulating among the jefes.

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Day 10 - As Close to Done As We'll Ever Be

This is Will. First and foremost, I want to address the concern about sicknesses. I think the food here is giving a lot of people indigestion and stomach issues. No one has a fever and for the most part it is a one-day thing. Ben’s was the worst, but only lasted a few hours. Mine has lasted the longest but has been pretty light on me. Hannah, Jack, Jackie, Jennifer, Punneh, Kate, and Bob have all also been sick. At this moment, Punneh is in bed and everyone else is up and feeling good. The bug is not that bad, just annoying, and it’s easy and okay to stay back at the Finca to recover.

On that note, last night I got sick again and didn’t go to the school today. I stayed back with Ben, Jennifer, Bob, and Punneh. It was a normal, boring sick day except for the World Cup Semi-Final. Bob and I were the only ones that got out of bed to watch it. Our only two fellow soccer-watchers were these two German women. They were pretty disappointed, but I (Spain has been my team to win it) and Bob (roots for Spanish-speaking nations) were happy. The TV was almost impossible to watch because the wind was strong and reception was bad, but we made it through. There were two work parties today: one went to the normal high-school and the other went to Mano Amiga. Since I wasn’t there, Madeleine is going to write about the day. Hopefully it will be less vanity-flicky than Abe and Peter’s guest post the other day.

Hello, everyone! As a novice to the blog-writing thing, the idea of each of you reading this is quite thrilling. I have been instructed to give an unbiased account of this tenth day of our life here on Ometepe Island, but I feel it is necessary to give a personal account of last night. It all started when I crawled under my pink mosquito net after a long evening of rain, only to find that the once-comforting, fort-like enclosure of my bed had become a cage for two birds. I later realized that they were only large moths, but that only makes it all worse. Long story short, several of the travelers who have moved their beds to the deck of the Finca were not pleased when I fled to their quarters dragging my bed behind me. I suppose I proved them right by shrieking all night when I discovered beetles in my bed.

This morning, the evil sickness that has yet to claim me had overcome the only five members of our group who were not holding a grudge against me from the past night. Needless to say, it was a quiet walk of shame to the school for me. Once in the lab, however, Skylar began to use his energy to lead the TSC clan in teaching Nicaraguans about the wonders of Microsoft Word, rather than reminding me of my past failures. His Spanish skills are really quite impressive. About a half hour later, Abe, Chara, and I left the school to begin installing three computers in the community center called Mano Amiga. Despite the distraction of a few painfully adorable puppies, which I was not given permission to pet, the three of us got some work done. We will return to finish crimping in the morning.

The Mano Amiga crew returned to the school to eat lunch with our Nicaraguan buddies. It was hard for the students to live up to the whole fish, complete with a face and eyes, that they brought me yesterday, but they do get extra points for the lack of rice and beans in today’s lunch. On the way back to Mano Amiga after lunch, I saw a pig, un cerdo, the size of Beethoven, that dog from the movies. I’ve decided that pigs are the best animals in this country because even though they are unbelievably cute, I don’t feel the same urge to pet them as I do with the sweet, lonely dogs that the group’s anti-rabies rules prevent me from comforting. I do, however, have about 50 pictures of different little piglets to share when we return.

Back at the Finca, it’s been a very relaxing evening. Despite devoting my attention to my book for a solid half hour, I only made it through about five pages due to the stress I felt about my approaching blog-writing duties. Just kidding, this is a piece of cake compared to spending the night scouting a bug-free place to sleep. Our spirits are all high, seeing as the lab was finished today. The best computer in the lab, “the teaching computer,” also has internet! All is well on the island.

Madeleine

P.S. - Sorry about the lateness of these posts. Internet access has been terrible and I have spent literally 2 hours at the school today making sure I posted this so as to minimize worrying.

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Day 9 - So Class, What Did We Learn Today?

I know you’ll all be overjoyed to hear that I’m back. Hannah, Jack and I, who were all confined to our beds yesterday due to various stomach sicknesses, were able to go down to the school this morning. Honestly, I probably should have stayed back, but I didn’t want to miss another day and I definitely didn’t want to stay at the Finca by myself.

We are in the middle of our third rainstorm of the day. I think this one is the worst, but they all have been sudden and amazingly wet. Rain should be wet, but this rain is ridiculously wet.

Catherine wasn’t messing around this morning and decided to get everyone up 15 minutes earlier than normal because apparently we were a half hour late yesterday. We arrived in time to have to wait 15 minutes for the principal to arrive and open the door to the lab. Good call, Catherine. We didn’t start right on time, though, because we had to set up an adjacent room with laptops on desks so that a group of us could teach students and teachers how to use Microsoft Word while another group of us finished the main computer lab. Three networking cables we found not working because they had been cut all the way through by an ignorant worker. Those were redone.

The teaching room operated fantastically, and the students and teachers all know how to type, edit fonts, insert images, add WordArt, and operate basic Word functions like cut, paste, and undo. Skylar led the teaching and his Spanish turned out to be adequate enough for the Nicaraguans to follow.

Now is that fun time where I share with you the significance of the title. Until lunch we had a full crew of workers including all kids and chaperones. At lunch, Ben was not feeling well so Mike escorted him back to the Finca. It may need reiterating, so I’ll tell you that the Finca is about 2 miles away, uphill, from the school (although Bob’s original estimate was a half mile…). I did not go with them, but Mike reported to me that Ben was feeling so nauseous they had to stop every 100 yards to take a break and eventually caught a ride the rest of the way to the Finca. When the rest of us got back to the Finca, Ben was asleep. Soon, however, he would appear in the doorway of the room and say, “OK, we have a problem. I just threw up all over my bed.” Needless to say, the Finca workers had to clean up Ben’s bed. He then resituated himself in a hammock. He then threw up in the hammock. His next attempt at rest was on the wood floor of the deck of the Finca. This too he would throw up on, but we realized that if he pukes on the wood floor we can just hose it off. Ben is now sleeping with a blanket and pillow on the floor. The reason for Ben’s sickness can be inferred. Sometime into his puking, it was discovered that Ben has been drinking the tap water for 2 days now. Only one white person on the island had told us that the water is safe to drink, everyone else said, “DON’T DRINK THE WATER.” Well, Ben did, and that is what he has learned: don’t drink the water. Bob is also in bed at this point and the last time Mike tried to check on him, Bob wouldn’t stop talking (as Bob is known to do) so we assume he is getting better. Bob is the most optimistic person I have ever met.

Back at the school during the day, the crew struggled to connect all the computers to the network which we named Gucci 2 (named after the rapper Gucci Mane). Catherine had scheduled a mini soccer tournament in our lunch groups, but, due to fatigue and illness, we decided to postpone that and head to the Finca early instead. The lab is still not completely done, but we have the laptops that we can use to continue teaching while we continue finishing the lab. We are multitasking now in order to finish.

Part 2: It is now day 10 but I have to finish day 9 because I got sick in the middle of writing last night and went to bed. The only thing from last night to report is that after Jack, Skylar, and Punneh decided to sleep outside a few nights ago, the group of outside sleepers increased last night to seven. For us who stayed inside, it was a pain because the large group of people wouldn’t stop talking. Nikki got fed up and told everyone to be quiet, and I know Jack was not happy about losing his serene sleeping conditions. Ben and I both took one of Abe’s “mystery anti-diarrhea pills” last night to try and help our stomachs, but you don’t get to find out how everything turns out until I write the blog of day 10 tonight… Oh, the suspense.

No fumar por favor,

Will

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Day 8 - Black Monday

In my absence, as I was at the Finca sick today, Abe and Peter kindly volunteered to write the blog. Here they are:

Today, Catherine came into the man cave with the routine mission of waking up the slumbering beasts. Maneuvering through our piles of disgusting clothes, half-full glass soda bottles, and an astounding array of toiletries, she failed to wake us up on her first attempt. Like a ray of sunshine, she repeated this act four more times before Hannah picked up where Catherine had failed. Hannah confidently strolled into the pit of masculinity and burst into song. Somehow the men’s hearts were won and they crawled out of their mosquito nets one by one. Once we were all out of bed, we realized that we had a situation on our hands. Will was sick, and seemingly grumpy. We left him alone… Hannah and Jack also stayed at the Finca today nursing their sicknesses. All three are recovering and should be back in the field tomorrow.

The team hastily prepared for our trek to the school, when Abe realized he lost his shoes. In quite the situation, he commandeered Will’s flip-flops, mistake number one. As he left the room, Will gave him notice that they were sharp, and Abe ignored the caveat, mistake number two. Fast forward to our arrival at the school, and Abe discovered that the flip-flops were incredibly adept at removing skin, he desperately asked the rest of the crew for a spare pair of shoes, and Catherine was the only volunteer. A look of happiness turned discontent when he realized that they were size 5 women’s. He put them on his size 10 (mens) feet, and hobbled around for the rest of the day, yet another mistake. He claims they were comfortable; he probably just didn’t want to be made fun of anymore.

Once work was underway, we discovered that all of the kids were extremely tired and grumpy, possibly as grumpy as Will. We decided that letting the Nicaraguan students crimp our network cables without proper instruction (and a massive language barrier) was probably not the best idea. The entire morning was spent cleaning up the mess and redoing everything. Don’t worry, Sarah, any imaginable vacation would be far more enjoyable than this morning. Jubilance pounded us like the rain from a daily tropical storm. Fun. I think we all got to know each other a little bit better this morning, at least those that were capable of working. During our long day, we networked all of the computers, and configured 12 laptops for the teachers. During this process, we listened to a copious amount of No Ceilings, the infamous Lil’ Wayne mixtape, some Gucci Mane (who we, ironically, named our shared file folder for the network after), and our new favorite artist, Tha Joker.

We continued to work until 6, when we heard great news. We were going to get a ride back to the Finca on a bus. As we climbed on the bus, we surrendered to the seats, pushed down by our sense of accomplishment. Sure today was hard, but we got a heck of a lot done. Building character much? Abe, being the pro photographer that he is, managed to snap a few schnazzy shots around Balgue and on the bus. Peter, being the photo jocker that he is, is still showing the pictures to anything with a pulse, including the thousands of insects invading our dinner, and personal space... Abe. Punneh encountered a few in her food, and everyone was disturbed by her shrieks. We don’t understand how someone who chooses not to eat meat out of kindness to animals can hate beetles so much. Madeleine, the other animal lover, even threatened to slice a beetle in half.

We are blogging during dinner, and Peter is continuing to chow down on french toast. I don’t know why this is blog worthy, it is as routine as the sunrise. Every day, he is that one gringo who wants breakfast for dinner. The staff at the Finca are aware of this, and they know him by name when they approach him to ask if he will be continuing his tradition. The lady came over and tapped him on the shoulder before asking, “Peter, you have Pan Frances?”

As dinner came to a close, we started an endless crusade. We decided it was our job to solve the insect problem ourselves, and we starting the grueling battle to toss them all off the porch. There are two types of rampant animals on this island, stray dogs and beetles. Violence is prohibited when dogs are involved, but it’s fair game when bugs are the target. Jennifer is our expert bug wrangler, and everyone holds their breath as she daintily picks them up with a napkin and drops them over the railing. I’ve never seen such a refined technique when dealing with bugs. Catherine prefers a butter knife for the job. She just dropped one on Peter; I think he peed a little.

It’s going to be bed time soon, and everyone on the team needs it. Hopefully a night in the man cave will give the guys the rest they need. I’m sure the girls will do the same in their room of ponies, fairies, and whatever else they like.

Good night, and good luck.

Your guest bloggers for the night,

Abe and Peter

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Day 7 - Oh Say, Can You See?

Happy 4th of July, everyone! While I write this back at the Finca, all you readers are probably out partying and watching fireworks. For us, today was not the most patriotic 4th of July.

Last night, many people stayed up late because we didn’t have to get up early in the morning. During the night, Hannah got sick and threw up. In the morning, Abe got up early because he was not feeling well and he sat in a rocking chair with a trash can next to him because he thought he would puke. Abe took a mystery pill which his dad packed for him and it made him feel much better by breakfast. Hannah, however, didn’t get better in time, so she didn’t go on today’s adventures. Jack refused to wake up on time again, and when he finally got up he was too groggy and not feeling so hot, so he stayed back too. Mike decided to chill at the Finca just in case they needed anything.

The rest of us walked down to the main road to catch a bus to Charco Verde. Charco Verde is a beach that has some trails going away from it and a big pond. The bus ride was really long so we were only able to swim for a few minutes before going on a walk around the pond. We split into two groups at one point, and the half that I was in walked across this peninsula to a view point of part of the island and the lake. It was nice, but Nikki and I agreed that it was not worth the hike considering how exhausted we all were. Bob was always ready to get moving and wanted to fit as many things into one day as possible, so we decided to move on to a new beach.

The second beach we took the bus to was La Punta de la Peloma (The Point of the Dove). On the way, Scott, Bob, and Kate made a stop to get us some knock-off Doritos chips and watermelons. At the beach, Scott cut all the water melons into thirds and we all got a slice. While making our way to the actual beach part of La Punta de la Peloma, Ben took a side-trip to hold this man’s pet squirrel. I took some pictures and the squirrel started to get restless so the man had to take the animal back. He had already offered to sell Ben the squirrel to which Ben replied, “Well, what would I possibly do with it?” Needless to say, the Geyman’s will not be having a new pet squirrel.

La Punta de la Peloma is really cool because somehow there is this big pier-like formation of sand that juts off the beach. You can basically walk off the beach on this narrow sand walkway and walk for a long time without drowning. Eventually we were just standing out in the middle of Lake Nicaragua. It was pretty wacky and the current started getting strong and the waves got bigger, so we had to head back to dry land to avoid disaster.

The bus ride back was super long and I fell asleep and woke up multiple times. It was dark when we walked up the road to the Finca, and we were back right at dinner time. Ben set a new rule at the meeting we are having right now: “You may stay up for the rest of the 4th of July but you may not be awake on the 5th.” Basically midnight has been set as the curfew to try and avoid further sickness. We are also getting up early tomorrow since we are still behind in the lab-construction due to the whole tub scenario at the beginning. Hopefully we can start teaching the kids tomorrow. Oh, and Jennifer has remind us that tomorrow is malaria medication day! YAAAY!

Estoy muy cansado,

Will

P.S. - To my family: I miss you guys and I hope all is well. Also, I have decided that I want to get a fish.

P.P.S. - To Amy and the Geyman’s: Ben also wants a fish.

A Fourth of July Message from Madeleine

As a special gift on this joyous occasion, Will has finally given in to my begging and is letting me have my fifteen minutes of fame on this blog. He is making me hurry because the internet is working right now, but I’d like to say that despite the lack of patriotic barbecues and fireworks, I wouldn’t want to be anywhere other than Ometepe Island. Although moving here is not an option, because I’m too much of a daddy’s girl, I’d call this the best 4th of July I’ve ever had. I hope all is well back in Seattle and can’t wait to get off the plane in a place where it isn’t 234937248923 degrees. To mommy and daddy and sissy: I love you! Good night to all.

Madeleine

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Day 6 - El Cascada

It was Friday when we awoke, meaning it was the day the world would find out who would be the final two countries competing in the World Cup semifinals. The Nicaraguans root for South American teams, so it was kind of awkward when I told them that I basically rooting against all those teams. Then it was even more awkward when all the European teams I was rooting for won… But it was a good conversation topic.

Catherine woke everyone up at 8 like normal. After breakfast we walked down the Finca’s “road” (dirt trail) to the “main road” (wider dirt trail) where we got on a bus with the Nicaraguan students and headed to Cascada San Ramon. It’s this big waterfall up by Volcan Concepcion. It was an hour-long bus ride, but with the heat and lack of circulation on the bus, it felt even longer.

The trail to the waterfall started by a beach next to the lake. The trail was a gradually inclining dirt path that turned out not to be the actual trail but just a path up to the real trail. The real trail was also a dirt road, but much steeper. We had been told the hike should only take an hour or so, and all of the Nicaraguans showed up wearing sandals, so we weren’t really worried. The path just kept going up and never leveled off. There were parts of the trail where people agreed that it looked just like Discovery Park. The final climb to the waterfall was the hardest and included walking up the river climbing over rocks. The trek turned out to be much more than we had expected and by the time we got to the top everyone was exhausted and overheated. I actually got split up from the group of Americans near the beginning and ended up walking with the Nicaraguans. The difference in the groups was the pace, so I got to the top 20 minutes or so before everyone else, and I don’t have many stories to share from the climb.

As I was climbing over the rocks in the river, I looked up and saw a little trickle of water coming off a cliff about 100 yards away. I got kind of mad because what I saw was a complete letdown to what I had imagined the water fall to look like. I didn’t really have anyone to ask whether it was the waterfall or not, so I just kept walking. It turned out that was just a part of the waterfall that got diverted off to the side. The real waterfall was huge and spectacular. So spectacular I don’t have words to describe. I’m going to let Ben use some of his SAT vocabulary words that he found on his shower curtain (yes, Ben has a shower curtain with SAT vocab words) to try and describe the beauty of the waterfall:

All right, lemme set the scene for you: picture if you will a paradise where fairies caper, cavort, and frolic with the other sprites and woodland creatures; a place where magic is real. Well that’s not what it looked like at all.

In fact, the events transpired more like so: the scene begins with our weary crew marching up on an unremitting vertical slog. It’s hot and it’s humid, spawning an uncomfortable situation where your sweat is indistinguishable from the condensing moisture on your skin. Rivulets converge and become streams, then rivers of sweat, cascading in waterfalls off your face and arms. A single thought resonated throughout all of our minds: “surely it must be just over this knob or around this bend,” and then suddenly it was.

The Cascada San Ramon, well, cascaded over a verdant wall, majestically falling hundreds of feet into a shallow pool. The mere act of looking at it cooled me down, and, most surprisingly, the cascada seemed to generate its own wind. Despite facing a sheer three-hundred-foot cliff, we found ourselves wonderfully refreshed by a stiff breeze laced with impossibly cool water (impossibly cool because the rain here is like seventy-five degrees and the temperature rarely dips to seventy, if even that).

As students, Nicaraguan and American, slowly trickled up over the rise to the pool, snacks were extracted from backpacks and quickly broken into by a ravenous crowd. Hypoglycemic and heat stroke afflicted students and teachers alike were able to make a quick recovery, and once the blood sugars and core temperatures had been stabilized, we were all able to fully appreciate our surroundings. Some of us sat, some hopped from rock to rock, and some backtracked down the trail to relieve themselves; all of these activities performed with a snack in hand.

Later, after some discussion as to the proper etiquette regarding swimming in water that could later be used for drinking, we concluded that swimming was appropriate, and even necessary. (For those readers who might be appalled by the proposition of swimming in drinking water, I assure you, there was a unanimous consensus among the Nicaraguan authority figures that swimming was entirely OK.) And so the swimming and picture taking began, us in our swim suits, and them in their jeans and T-shirts; everybody was thoroughly drenched. Then, when we had had our fill, we packed up and left the golden sky, tranquil breeze, and stunning beauty behind us as we descended into the sticky jungle that lay between us and the even stickier bus. It was an afternoon to remember.

Thanks Ben. I’m glad you could find almost 2 hours of your day to write that for us. (It took him an astonishingly long time.) Amy, you should think about getting Ben some ADD medication. When we finally got our toiletries, the guys had all not shaved for 3 or 4 days so there was a rather pernicious case of the stubble going around. When the toiletries came, people starting shaving. However, I decided not to. My facial hair has gotten well… again, I don’t really have the words to describe it so I am going to let Ben give it a try:

Thanks Will, I’m not sure whether there are any words on my shower curtain to describe the growth on your chin, but here’s the best I can do: GRUBBY.

Thanks for that one Ben, you truly do have a way with words. The hike down was significantly easier than the climb up; the only problem was making sure you didn’t slip on the rocky trail. I think everyone kept their balance well and there were no injuries besides stubbed toes. Madeleine would like me to report that she was able to maintain a conversation with Alexander, a Nicaraguan student, for the entire descent. This is an example of how much everyone’s Spanish is improving. I learned how to say “hace mucho calor.” This mean “it is very hot.” Madeleine also got stung by a bee on the way down.

The bus picked us up at the bottom and took us to Hotel Merida, a nice, touristy hotel near the waterfall, to eat lunch. The lunch was delicious but the best part was that they had Wi-Fi and laptops to use!!! Everyone was super excited about being able to check their Facebooks and send emails. They also had a dock which you could jump off into the lake. The water was warmer than I had hoped, but was still cool enough to be amazingly refreshing. Punneh taught the Nicaraguans some wrestling moves as they struggled to throw each other off the dock into the water. The game got pretty crazy, but no one got hurt. Peter and Ben got a little tricky and started doing backflips off the dock.

I fell asleep on the bus ride back, but I know it happened. We had to walk up the trail to the Finca, and it was getting dark at the time. I told Ben I was really tired (in Spanish of course) and, being the burly, young man that he is, insisted that he give me a piggy-back ride all the way up the hill. He made it pretty far but eventually had to set me down. It was a good effort.

Beef was served with our rice and beans for dinner today. Catherine has given us permission to sleep in tomorrow. Hopefully we’ll capitalize on that and not stay up too late. We are aware that tomorrow is the 4th and plans are being made for some sort of “Fiesta de los Gringos” (Party of the White People).

Necisitamos mas cervesas,

Will

(We learned that Spanish from the drunk English tourists dining next to us at the Finca. They are quite entertaining.)

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Day 5 - The Honeymoon is Over

I am writing this while looking out over Lake Nicaragua watching the most insane lightning storm I have ever seen. It’s not actually raining at the Finca, but the mainland seems like it is getting nailed. Rain was a part of the TSC team’s day however. We woke up at the normal time and were on schedule to be at the school by 9:30, but as we were packing up it started raining. We were held back a few minutes and had to walk through mud. The rain makes it cooler until the sun comes out, so a storm here and there really isn’t bad.

School was already in session when we arrived. We hit the lab and began to finish up golden imaging. Some of us, like Madeleine, had already done two computers and would end up doing five. Others of us, like me, had done one and would end up doing only two in total. Golden imaging was completed by lunch time.

Our pairs reunited with the Nicaraguan pairs for lunch. Catherine and I were lucky that Francisco (our male Nicaraguan lunch friend) lived less than 30 seconds from the school. The sun was out and it was getting hot. Lunch was rice and beans and conversation went well. The adventure came on the way back. After an hour of eating, we decided it was time to head back to make sure people didn’t get worried about us. Confusion set in when we realized that we were the first people back. Skylar and Punneh showed up, but no one else. Over an hour later, after talking to three different people in the lab, Skylar and Punneh decided they needed to walk across the street to get water. They were gone for 30 minutes, so Catherine started to worry they went back to the Finca while I thought of more logical scenarios like the Nicaraguans had planned on kidnapping us all and our students had just forgotten to poison the food. Just as we had given up waiting and decided to go search for people, they started showing up. Almost two hours after Catherine and I had returned, we got back to the lab.

The next step was networking. Networking is known as the annoying step that requires fine motor skills, patience, and being able to memorize colors. Orange-white, orange, green-white, blue, blue-white, green, brown-white, brown. See, I can do it. Basically, we are given wires which we have to strip the outer coating off then arrange and straighten tiny little colored wires inside. The wires, once perfectly straight and in order, are crimped in an RJ-45 so it can be plugged into a computer. It actually went better than I thought, and we had no major faults. Of course, we don’t really learn whether all of the cables work until we turn on the computers tomorrow. One Nicaraguan girl, Yensi, stayed with us and helped network. We are going to trying to finish networking on Monday.

Kate was still sick today so she decided to stay home. This turned out to be beneficial because Jacqui also got sick, so they were able to keep each other company. They are both recovering now. Jacqui is better, but Kate is still struggling. Punneh is also not feeling so hot. I’m pretty sure she is just dehydrated. When we got back from lunch, she started playing soccer, came in to rest for 30 seconds, then ran out and played volleyball. Both times she came into the lab panting and sweating and saying, “I can’t keep going. I’m going to pass out!” Yet she kept going. Punneh is also freaking other people out. There was a man at our camp who got bit by a bug and his leg was swollen. Punneh tried to convince him that he had MRSA. She is currently convincing Hannah that the mosquito bites on her legs are staph infection and that it is spreading through her body. No one agrees with her. But we still love her.

After a dinner of rice, beans, and chicken, we sat down and had a team meeting. In the middle of the meeting, the power went out. Some locals had warned us about that, but it wasn’t even raining so we were pretty surprised. It got pitch black for about 10 minutes. Then the power came back on! Then it went out 10 seconds later. Then it came back on! Then I started blogging. Then it went back off. Then it came back on! Now it’s on, but the lightning is still going so we could have some more outages. Mostly we hope there were no surges at the school that could have damaged the computers. But it is extremely unlikely because we have surge protectors. TSC is always prepared. Oh except for that one time when we packed all of the mosquito repellent, sunscreen, and toothpaste in tubs and then got the tubs confiscated and held in customs for 3 days… That could have been planned better.

Tomorrow is a weekend day, so we shall trek to a waterfall with the Nicaraguan students. Apparently it’s really nice. Hopefully Peter and Abe can get some pictures up at some point, but right now that seems like only a dream.

By the way, the title of this was inspired by a quote from Mike after realizing that Bob had locked the keys inside of their honeymoon suite. Mike came to tell me and simply said, “the honeymoon is over.” However, less than a minute later Mike tried to just open the lock with no key and it took two pulls to rip the lock from the door. This doesn’t bode well for the security of our stuff. But, on the bright side, Mike and Bob got back into their room and the honeymoon will continue.

Me gusta el pollo,

Will

(This one means “I like the chicken.”)

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Day 4 - The Return of the Tubs

Yo nessicito una computadora! (“I need a computer!” - Spanish phrase numero uno learned today.) The last news we had heard was that Bob and Scott had managed to get through customs and were going to head over to the school in the morning. They have been fighting for the tubs for 3 days now, so we have been without computers and all toiletries. We didn’t really find out how everything worked out and they didn’t have a chance to even call before they left on the ferry.

While walking down to the school, Jack and I ran into an enthusiastic Scott walking toward the Finca. The tubs were packed into two vans which were backed into the entrance of the school complex where all the TSC students lined up to help unload them. The Nicaraguans would not let us do all the work, however. They were eager to help and very excited about the prospects of what could be inside each one of these 40 tubs. Computers, soccer balls, gold, guns, girls? They really had no idea. We spent the next few hours unloading and sorting the equipment. Abe and Jacqui spent a lot of the time pumping up soccer and basketballs, Bob and I sorted soccer jerseys and various sports paraphernalia, and everyone else unloaded computers and monitors and took them into the new computer lab. By lunchtime, everything was unloaded and ready to be set up.

Our first experience with the students came when we split into our various foursomes and headed to a Nicaraguan kid’s house. I can really only speak from my experience, but I thought it went great. Catherine (the Spanish speaker in our duo) and I walked with Francisco and Jennifer (Nicaraguan Jennifer) to Jennifer’s house where her mom made us spaghetti. Only 2 or 3 times did Catherine run out of things to say resulting in some extremely awkward silences. Beyond that, Francisco was very talkative and everyone was nice and polite. We headed back towards the school, while above Vulcan Concepcion (the big, pointy, active volcano) some dark clouds were forming.

When we all reconvened back at the school, some of the other school children were already involved in a game of soccer on the cement basketball court in the courtyard of the school. A bunch of us Americans quickly joined in. Five minutes into the game, Zeus got angry. It was like someone tipped over a bucket on our head. A gigantic bucket that would pour for almost an hour. As soon as the lightning came, the Nicaraguan students, who knew they would lose points if they went to class wet, ran for cover. The crazy Americans, on the other hand, stayed for about 15 minutes running around in the hardest rain I have ever seen. The court was soon covered in 3 inches of water and the ball stopped rolling. We headed for cover where we were greeted with laughs from our fellow TSC members who elected to stay dry. My shoes were soaked and basically unwearable. Skylar, Peter, Jack and I had to take our shirts off, but Hannah and Punneh weren’t allowed to so they put on some of the jerseys we had brought for the students. Izzy also got soaked while he was wearing his blue jersey. Not only did it get drenched and weigh about as much as one of the computers, but some of the blue was bleached out and now he has this weird whitish-blue tie-dye shirt.

The Nicaraguans definitely got a kick out of us crazy Americans. First we refused to find cover during a thunderstorm. Then we all took our clothes off. Then we stood undercover and screamed every time there was lightning within a half mile of us. But, honestly, the lightning was scary and one strike that flashed simultaneously with the school bell made a few of us FLIP out. After all this, we retreated into the lab, locked the doors, and started setting up computers.

By 2 PM, the lab was physically set up. Three of the four walls of the room are lined with computers. After the physical setup, which was fairly easy, we had to do “golden imaging”. Golden imaging is basically configuring the computer. We do things from changing the desktop photo to loading programs. Ben spent hours making us all step-by-step instructions on how to do everything. Because of Ben’s efforts, it was easy but time-consuming. Ben is the greatest.

After half of the computers had been configured, Peter and I went out to the court to juggle a soccer ball. Jack came to join along with 2 or 3 Nicaraguan kids (who for some reason weren’t in school). Due to the condition of our clothing, us Americans were shoeless and shirtless. We started playing a game. It was 3 vs. 3 at first: Americans vs. Nicaraguans. It was a really fair game which is shocking considering the disadvantage team USA had with no shoes. I don’t want to sound like I’m complaining, but it was the most painful soccer experience I have ever had. The ground was wet with a layer of gravel, so we were slipping all over the place and afraid to challenge the Nicaraguans because they had shoes. We had so much fun. But now Jack’s and my feet are pretty cut up and permanently dirty. When Jack and I left, there were probably 20 kids playing and three times as many watching from the sidelines.

On the way back to the Finca, a few of us stopped for ice cream at a store where Ben (not our Ben; a Brit who owns the store) lives. He was super nice and the ice cream was amazing. It was getting dark when our small group left the ice cream store, so we decided to see if we could get a ride. Punneh had observed that Nicaraguans just jump on the back of trucks and ride for as long as they need. Well, a car full of Brits headed to the Finca pulled over and, before asking, Punneh and Ben jumped on the back. The guys started freaking out and told us to get off because it wasn’t safe. So, it turns out you can’t just jump on anyone’s car. Nonetheless, at the turnoff up to the Finca, a truck with water jugs was about to leave and they invited us to ride in the back of their huge flatbed with a fence around it (just wanted to emphasize its safety). When we arrived at the Finca, Ben announced he was going to swing out the back “como Tarzan.” He did so successfully. While I was exiting, I somehow managed to break a hole through the floor boards of the truck and fall all the way down on my right knee. I’m OK, though.

It was great to get the tubs. We now all have our toiletries and can take showers, wear bugspray, and wear sunscreen. The bug bites we already accumulated are really bothersome, though. Hannah has leveled off at around 30 on her legs, Peter and I have 10 on our backs, and Jack seems to be the only one escaping completely. Kate woke up not feeling well. She is dehydrated and possibly with some virus, but word is that she is in bed and getting better fast. The tubs have brought the boys cabin mosquito nets, so tonight will be bug-free. Tomorrow we will finish golden imaging and then network the computers (you’ll learn about that tomorrow).

Yo tengo una melacotone,

Will

(This means “I have a starfruit.” My second Spanish phrase of the day.)

P.S. - I tried to get pictures up but couldn’t figure it out. Peter claims to know how to do it, so I’ll let him give it a try next blog.

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Day 3 - I Have Seen the Rain

Despite the stifling humidity, sticky skin, lack of bug nets or spray, fans (which all other rooms have) and cramped sleeping conditions, the boys slept pretty well. We woke up at 8 to the sound of howler monkeys howling, dogs barking, and exotic birds chirping. Eggs, some amazing juices and, of course, rice and beans.

Even though we didn’t have the tubs with the computers, we had already promised the school that we would come in and work. The sun was out and it was hot. The humidity was about the same but the sun added enough heat to make Mike crack a joke about it being 110 degrees in the school and only 100 degrees outside. It doesn’t actually get close to 100 degrees during the rainy season at nine in the morning, but you couldn’t tell that from the sweat drenching our bodies.

After 15 minutes of Catherine attempting to direct the students (in Spanish) to get into groups of four, two American students and two Nicaraguan students, a teacher came out and told us that they already had formed groups. Catherine did a great job though and continued to engage in conversations with the Nicaraguan students throughout our time touring the town of Balgue. Each group had one American student who could speak Spanish (Abe being able to speak is debatable), and they all had some very interesting conversations, ranging from snow in Seattle to explaining how my name (Will Reed) is funny in English because it has the same pronunciation as the future tense “to read” (“I will read this book to you…”). Ha. Very funny, Catherine.

Spaghetti was served for lunch, which was a nice change from the usual rice and beans. The blistering sun and humidity along with the fact that we had absolutely nothing to do in the afternoon resulted in decision to head to Ojo de Agua (Eye of the Water). It was this quaint swimming hole type thing. The water was cool and it was quite refreshing. The adventure was flawless except for that we had our first injury. Not to scare Amy, but it was Ben who began to dive into the water only to realize that Chara was standing where he wanted to dive. Ben adjusted his dive to aim for a new area. The entrance was flawless, earning a 10 from the Nicaraguan judge (only an 8 from the Russian judge…). The problem was that his new dive spot was only about 2 and a half feet deep… Upon realizing this, Ben rotated while entering the water. He was close to escaping, but his back scraped the bottom. As he climbed out of the water the crowd let out an “OOOHHH” as they saw the red scrapes on his back. Ben was fine, and luckily Nikki and Jennifer (acting as medical lead) were quickly there to clean and bandage his wounds.

Only minutes after leaving the swimming area, we learned why they call this area a “RAINforest.” The wind picked up (enough to knock a branch off a tree onto Kate’s head - She’s OK) and it started drizzling. Within 5 minutes we were standing in a torrential downpour. The jumping flies attacked our legs while we waited for the bus in unbelievable rain. A van pulled up to us and said they had enough room to transport all 17 of us back to Balgue. Whether or not they actually had enough room for us is debatable. Let’s just say we got creative. The rain slowed down but continued until just before dinner time. For dinner they served us something called “Old Indian” (we honestly have NO idea what it was. It was enchilada-like), and, once again, rice and beans.

Immediately after dinner, Bob called from the airport with an update on how they are going to get customs to let us take the tubs! The phone call got cut off before Mike was able to get too many details, but I will share what we do know. Bob and Scott have not been incarcerated. They somehow convinced the customs people to let them take the tubs. They are staying in Rivas tonight, a town with a ferry terminal. They are getting up and catching the first ferry to Ometepe and claim that we will have the tubs at the school by 9:30. We’ll see how that works out.

Although the computers are the main reason for the trip, I think a lot of us are secretly happier to be getting our toiletries. I thought we were doing fine until I was shown on camera my insane farmers tan and burn on my neck and Hannah showed me her 20+ (no exaggeration) mosquito bites on her leg. Izzy and I are tied for second-most mosquito bites with probably around 11. A surplus of deet will be welcomed.

After the rain, it has somewhat cooled off here and it’s actually extremely pleasant. Hopefully tomorrow we can start setting up the lab.

Que pasa calebaza!

Will

(That means “what’s up, pumpkin?!”)

P.S. To Maggie – Bob’s been without his sleep apnea machine for two nights now… Apparently this makes him sound like one of the howling monkeys that woke us up today!

P.P.S. – Hannah and Madeleine are forcing me to tell their mommies that they love them.

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Day 2 - No Rest for the Weary

The day of travel wore us out, but not quite enough to persuade us to get to bed early. The Hotel Con Corazon was amazing and we admittedly should have gone to bed earlier, but were kept up by its many activities. Our first full day in Nicaragua began at 6:30 with a breakfast of fresh fruit, granola and yogurt, and some delicious watermelon juice.

We left the hotel and headed for a ferry to take us to Ometepe Island. When we arrived at the ferry, there was some confusion as to whether we had prepaid or not. As Ben put it: “We definitely paid someone. It might not have been these guys, but we paid.” We got on the ferry and set out at mind-bogglingly slow speeds.

Our first sight of Ometepe was of this red house surrounded by thick jungle. I have seen some photogenic houses around the world and this definitely ranked up in the top few I’ve ever seen. A van then came to pick us up. Again we were confused at how, if we had managed to bring the tubs along, these van drivers planned on taking 40 tubs along with us and all our luggage.

The van took over an hour to reach Finca Magdelena because the road was bumpy beyond belief. There were times I would look ahead on the road and see a couple HUGE rocks blocking our path and I didn’t think we would make it past. The van would slow down to about 5 MPH and people would even walk by us. However, before the bumpy section, we drove on an arterial that probably was the equivalent of a 40 MPH road in the US. The driver was doing at least 60-70 or so. One memorable moment was when the driver pushed a button and a flat screen TV came down from the ceiling and started playing Nicaraguan music videos (basically Latin rap). We also completed an epic quintuple pass where the driver passed five vehicles ahead of us without reentering the right line. The five vehicles included two pickups, a Hyundai sedan, and two semi-trucks. The whole ride was unbelievably photogenic and hopefully Abe and Peter can get some pictures up so everyone can see.

The Finca is great, pretty rustic, and crazily humid. We are all sticky with sweat. There were some room organization problems and Mike and Bob ended up getting put in one of the “honeymoon suites” sharing one twin-sized bed. However, Bob will not be home tonight because customs still won’t let Scott and him take the tubs of computers out of customs. The mayor of Balgue is sending a letter that will allow them to do that, but until then they are stuck in Managua. We are hoping to get the tubs by tomorrow so we can start setting up the lab on Thursday. Not only do the tubs have computers, but they also have everyone’s bug sprays, toothpastes, sunscreens, and razors. Us guys are starting to look a bit rugged not having shaved for a few days.

The major event of the day was our visit to the high school. They had a whole presentation of dancing and talking (in Spanish, of course, so I couldn’t understand a word) set up to greet us. This would grant us our first opportunity for, as Mike puts it, “an awkward cultural experience.” The dancers came out after their performance and asked some of our TSC members to dance with them. It wouldn’t have been too awkward had it not gone on for almost a full half hour. For the first few minutes, the crowd of students was laughing, but the excitement died down after about the fourth song of awkward dancing. It can be agreed that Jack won the award for best dance moves. His moves and the few Spanish words he knew were enough to woo his dance partner and make her want the dance to never end. Hannah also managed to woo her partner into inviting us to a party later in the night.

Meals today were fairly boring. For lunch we had beans, rice, and chicken (really good) then for dinner we had beans, rice, and chicken (really good). Yes, I did just say that we had the same thing for lunch and dinner. In the future we plan on rotating between this meal and spaghetti.

After dinner, we did head to the party that we were invited to. We walked about 20 minutes, following the sound of a bumping dance beat, to an open courtyard with a strobe light and loud Latin rap music. It sounds amazing, but the dance floor was literally empty. Not a single person was there, but we decided just to go in anyway. It was still fun and after a half hour or so, Nicaraguans started showing up. We were pretty proud for getting the party started. Once again, Jack used his moves to earn him the title as Best Dancer. Twice in one day Jack, well done.

We are back at the Finca now relaxing before bed. Sleeping with the mosquitoes should be interesting. Add on to that that all seven boys are all sleeping in the same room and you have yourself a very unpredictable night. Tomorrow we should head back to the school, and hopefully we will get more sleep tonight than we have the past two nights.

Me llamo Will, yo tengo dies y seis anos

(These are the phrases I learned to introduce myself to the school today. NICE.)

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Day 1 - I'm on a Plane and I Can't Complain

Hello all readers of the Nicaragua blog! If you didn’t read my first post, go back and do that. Or you can just not and keep reading. I don’t really care. I am Will the blog-master. My job is to update all friends and family of kids on the trip on the trip happenings.

Today was our first day of the Nicaragua trip, but really only our first night in Nicaragua. The day began bright and early at SeaTac: 4:00 AM to be exact. I left my house in Magnolia at 3:15 AM, so there can be no debate that this was an early start. Chara and I thought we were the first people to arrive at the Delta gate to start unloading our tubs from the cars. We were greeted by Lynna Tran and Hannah Collins, who, by their own choice, decided to wake up and meet us at the airport with bags full of snacks personalized for each person and a handwritten farewell message on the outside. These “snacks-packs” were filled with muffins, gummies, pretzels and all sorts of other goodies that made our taste buds dance with joy.

Sometime early in the gathering of tubs at the airport, I made the statement that I thought Jack would be the last to show up. And, of course, our first roll call proved that I was correct: Jack was not there. He showed up, not late, but still last. From his words: “I’ve been planning on showing up at least an hour and a half late since last week.” Not really sure what he meant by that.

We ran into a few snafus with the baggage check people who threatened to “open and search every single one of the tubs and not replace the zip-ties.” Mike Collins, being the leader that he is, recognized we did not have time to argue with these stubborn baggage checkers and simply said, “We don’t have time for this. Get on with it.” Most of the tubs weighed exactly 50 pounds - the exact maximum weight for standard checked baggage. There was one exception in that one of Hannah’s bags weighed in at 51 pounds and we were forced to repack some of her supplies into a tub which had extra space. We made it to gate S and boarded our flight to Atlanta without further excitement.

One perk of the flight was that the seats all had personal TV systems, so we were able to watch the Netherlands vs. Slovakia World Cup game on the flight. You could tell everyone was watching it when, upon Arjen Robben scoring the first goal (a great goal) the whole TSC section of the plane let out a loud “OOOOOHHHHHHH!” which woke up everyone who was trying to sleep.

We landed in Atlanta ahead of the original ETA. We then had about a four-hour layover in the Atlanta airport which people mostly spent getting food and watching Brazil destroy Chile in the second of the World Cup games today. A duo of handsome men (names need not be mentioned, but if I must…Ben and I) tracked down a group of attractive women, sat down near them, and began to serenade them with a playlist of Flight of the Conchords songs including “The Most Beautiful Girl in the Airport.”

We met back up at 4:30 PM Atlanta time and did role call. It was going smoothly until number 10 didn’t answer. After some inquiry we found that number 10 was none other than Jack Mace. Once again, Jack was nowhere to be found. He would show up within a few minutes and we boarded after a quick kick around with a hacky sack. We seemed to be sitting on the tarmac for a long time and I started to get restless. I said to Catherine “I hate big airports because they always get backed up.” Almost on cue, the pilot announced that there was a lineup on the runway and our plane was 17th in line and that would be taking off in about a half hour. The pilot was true to his word and got us into the air within twenty minutes and even got us into Managua, Nicaragua early.

I had mentioned to a few people that one of my major concerns was that Madeleine’s excitement about being in Nicaragua would cause me to lose sleep. She did a great job staying calm (probably due to only get a few hours of sleep) throughout the flights; however, when I got up to get my carryon baggage from the overhead compartment, I saw Madeleine standing with a HUGE grin on her face. At that point I thought she was going to boil over and go crazy, but she stayed reasonable and for this I am proud of her. I am still slightly concerned that her obsession with stray dogs may lead to a case with rabies.

The big time killer was when we went through customs in Managua and the security guards refused to allow us to take the tubs full of computers out of the airport without a letter of approval from customs. After almost two hours of confusion and debate, we decided to leave the tubs, go to our hotel in Grenada and send Bob to get the tubs tomorrow. We crammed into a van headed to Grenada. This was not just “crowding” like all the seats were taken; this was crowding like four people didn’t have seats. We have NO idea how they planned on taking all 40 tubs like originally intended.

Our tired eyes were awoken by the sight of Hotel Con Corazon, our one-night hotel complete with hammocks, a jungle garden, and a SWIMMING POOL. As soon as we got keys to our rooms, we all got into our swimsuits and hit the water. It’s now 12:15 AM on the 29th, and we are all just hanging out in the hotel debating whether or not to go to bed. We do have to get up and head to Ometepe at 6:30, but this hotel is just too much fun. I may be alone, but I am still looking forward to getting to the Finca Magdelena on Ometepe. That happens tomorrow when the adventure continues. For now, I’m exhausted to the point where I can’t really see the keyboard and Windows seems to be fighting with me.

Hasta el proximo vez,

Will

(We think that says “until next time.”)

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Day Negative 7 - One Week Till Takeoff

In the midst of studying for my last final of the year tomorrow, I have found time to write a little something for the blog. I have succumbed to Catherine’s pestering and will have to overlook the fact that Ben is giving me absolutely no help.

For those that don’t know me, my name is Will. I am just finishing up my sophomore year at Garfield and I will be the blogger for the TSC trip to Nicaragua. For the reader, I am your passport, and through my blogs you may adventure along with the TSC team. Previous TSC bloggers all are, or have been, writers for the Garfield Messenger and I fully understand that the shoes I am attempting to fill are huge. I would love to say that I am a trained writer, but to be honest, I am not. As a matter of fact, my dad just read an essay of mine from language arts this year and said, “Well, I don’t blame your teacher for giving you a bad grade. It’s not very good. It’s really awkwardly written.” Hopefully he won’t comment on any of my posts.

As the pressures of finals and knowledge that this is my last chance to get that one B in that one class up to an A loom over me, I can see a light at the end of the tunnel. And that light is that the trip to Nicaragua is now less than a week away. For the past few months our team has been working diligently doing everything from fundraising to meeting at lunch to going an overnight bonding trip to Abe’s cabin and in Wenatchee. For me, at least, preparation for this trip has been a very time-consuming process. And all I have had to do is attend meetings and write this one blog, so I can’t imagine what it’s been like for the people higher up in the TSC food chain.

The week for TSC began with working time at InterConnection on Saturday. For those that don’t know, InterConnection is where we refurbish computers. We hadn’t been there in a while, and I know many people worked their rear-ends off making sure each computer was in tip-top shape. Along with Catherine and Bob (without whom I would not have survived my short one-hour shift), Izzy was the star of the show putting in (as I understand) more hours than anyone on Saturday. If that is wrong, I apologize to whoever did log the most hours. The point is Izzy knew what he was doing and did a great job. Nice, Izzy.

On Thursday we will all make the trip to Ben’s house for the “networking party.” From what I understand, networking is fun. When I asked Madeleine what learning to network meant, she responded with, “OH YAAAAAAY! Red, blue, blue, red, brown, yellow, green, brown, pink, olive green, red-orange, blah, blah, bleh, bleh, nah, nah, la.” So apparently we will be memorizing colors. It seems simple enough.

Then Saturday we head out to Bob’s house for the “packing party.” This should be our last “party” before we leave. Partying by the TSC crew will be resumed once we reach the Finca Magdalena on Ometepe Island.

As the blogger and voice of this trip I am going to be the first to say that I AM SO PSYCHED TO BE AT SEA-TAC AT 4 IN THE MORNING! I know many of you are thinking about how much fun getting a thorough pat down by security and sitting on the floor watching the little blue TV screen tell us that our plane has been delayed for 3 hours (…God forbid) will be after a night of only a few hours of sleep. Hopefully people will want to get breakfast there with me because airport breakfasts are mi preferido (just thought I’d work in some Spanish for practice. If anyone’s confused, I meant “favorite”).

As takeoff time approaches, just remember not to get too excited; there is still one more day left of school. So my words of wisdom are: try your best and stay brilliant. Also, be safe because I would literally cry if someone broke a bone between now and the time we leave. Please don’t make me cry. I hate crying. And, on that note, I’ll leave you with some Spanish I have picked up!

Yo soy une hombre sincero

Guatanamera, guajira Guantanamera

Adios,

Will

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