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,


(“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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