Brett Boissevain, a current intern with AsoFénix in Nicaragua through the ESW Summer Engineering Experience in Development (SEED) Volunteer Program, shares his first experiences of living in Nicaragua.
I´m back in civilization again, but ever so briefly. I´ve spent the last week in the middle of a nicaraguan forest, living with a family (in a home that has electricity and a shower – more or less) and completely out of my element. The only way to get in touch with the rest of thew world is to hike for 45 minutes to the top of a peak to capture a glimmer of cell service (even then it costs an arm and a leg because I´m so far out).
The family I´m living with is incredible, but the adjustment has been a little tough for me. They talk a mile a minute, with a very different accent than my americanized spanish education (which was in high school, mind you) prepared me for. To the majority of questions, I can only respond “¿que?” (what?). After asking that two or three times, I usually just surrender and say “si” (yes), not knowing if it´s an appropriate answer or not.
The head of the household is named Pablo. He´s fairly young (I would guess in his mid 30´s) and really friendly. His wife is Irma and his oldest son is named Juan Pablo, or Pablito, and is 14 years old. He´s seems more mature than a lot of friends I had at GU, but then again most college kids are pretty immature anyways. The next oldest is Marlon, who is 7. He and I have been attached at the hip for the last week, romping through the hills and forest together every day. He´s old enough to know more spanish than me, but young enough to have the patience to help me learn what he´s saying. The youngest is Lionel, and is only 2. He´s extremely boisterous and rarely listens to his mother or brothers (maybe thats why I like him so much).
The part of the country I´m in is incredible. I´m in central Boaco (a state in Nicaragua) in the mountains and forests of central Nicaragua. It rains almost everyday, which means most of my days are speant sloshing along muddy trails wearing my newly acquired rubber boots (which cost me about $7). There are several streams through the area, and one is big enough to have a few swimming holes. I haven´t seen them all yet, but the most recent one I´ve been shown is 10-15 feet deep (I´ll save the stupidity of cliff jumping for when I´m closer to my departure). Fruit trees are everywhere, and sugar cane is easy to come by. The machete that I carry with me everywhere comes in pretty handy for a simple snack on the go! Every meal I have consist of rice, beans and tortillas. Luckily I´m not sick of it yet. Actually, it´s a nice change of pace from the college life style of waking up and asking myself “what did I eat yesterday?”