I feel so random in my blogging, that i have got to get more organized....forgive me. Especially since I am moving tomorrow to my apartment, and I am not really sure of the next time I will be able to blog, but I promise to keep everyone updates as much as possible.
I do fee really good about the big moving day which is tomorrow! Thankfully, I will still have a driver this week and my Neenie will be here next weekend, which will be sooooo fun. Unfortunately, the next week I will be flying completely solo....in other words, my agenda for the afternoon is to learn how to drive a stick shift. I am all over this whole learning and experiencing thing.
Okay, get ready for el libro....
1. Driving in Nicaragua
Wow, talk about different! Basically I am on a road that is a straight shot from the hotel to work, and my apartment should be that easy as well. It is a main highway, of sorts, so it is 4 lanes separated by a median, of sorts. Every 5 kilometers or so is a rotunda, or a roundabout in English. At first this seemed a bit chaotic to me, but it really is faster than having a big intersection...as long as you dont get into an accident.
Probably the most confusing part about driving, is that there are no street signs! Crazy, huh? I have NOOOO idea how people know where to go, but somehow they do....well, Fransisco does at least. This is the reason that addresses are more like directions than true addresses. Have I mentioned yet that my apartment address is something about near Pizza Hut....seriously! I love that...smiley face.
Another funny thing, is the various modes of transportation. Literally within a 1 mile stretch of road, you can see regular cars, many bicycles, many motorcyles, funny little 3 wheeled cars called toritos, and even carts pulled by horses! It is so bizarre, but I guess it works. The really funny thing is that a lot of times bikes and motorcycles will have at least 2 people on them.
People say that Nicaragua is a peaceful place, which it is....however the roads are not! Not because of the driving, but because of the honking. Seriously, you see someone you know--you honk. You see someone doing something stupid---you honk. The light changes--you honk. I just cant figure out what its all about, and I asked Javier and he just laughed and said thats what we do! Amidst all the honking, there is a lot of waving to one another also....and I am not talking about a small town friendly full hand wave either!
2. Work friends
I just wanted to give a brief run down on my favorite work friends. Javier is my boss, and Roger is his boss. Veronica is Javiers assistant product manager and is my friend closest to my age who I will work with a lot which is exciting....and I am a bit confused, but I think she was or is on some sort of national basketball team here! Then there is Maria Jose from HR who is from Spain and always gives hugs. Then Simone and Melisa work in HR and those girls are soooo sweet. Simone is married and has a wonderful husband Carlos who I love to talk to...he told me that is going to tell Javier that we need to hang out for 1 hour every day so he can leanr English more. lol. Also Ruth, who works in finance is great as well and has the husband who works with Nicaragua farmers....I cant wait to befriend him! The great part is that especially Ruth, Javier, and Roger understand American culture and can joke a lot more with me, but everyone else does really good honestly and it is super easy to communicate with them. Oh, also Luis is in my favorite list because he is about 27 and is just so adorable in his excitement to learn English adn teach me Spanish. I met his wife last week and am hoping to meet his kids soon.
All that to say that people at work are amazing!!!
3. Celebracion de dia de las madres y trabajadores
As you have probably already gathered, people are very social here. On Saturday, there was an almost company wide event for about 500 employees to celebrate Mothers Day, which is on Friday here, and Labor Day which was May 1. The event began with breakfast and was followed by some awards for each area given by the managers. Then the fun started...there are 4 people in the marketing division who are special event coordinators, Paris, Juan, Maria Jose and I cant remember the fourth. Anyway, Paris has got the best tv announcer voice ever! I love listening to this guy talk. Anyway, Paris and the other special events people coordinated a game show of sorts where the different divisions were competing against one another. Although at any one time there was only about 10 people on stage, everyone was sooo engaged with what was happening.
THEN it got interesting...because there was a dance contest! At first it was just musical chairs, only instead of walking around the chairs, the 5 people onstage had to dance....so of course, they were getting their groove on! It was sooo funny, and everyone loved it. But THEN, they brought up 3 couples and just played music and had them dance. It was cool to see salsa and meringue, and the couples were really into it....but then Paris played a song, I think it was payo de mayo? and it is a very traditional song here in Nicaragua, and let me tell you the place went NUTS! Everyone was clapping and hollering in the audience and onstage....well, lets just say I think my cheeks were burning bright red! When I got in the car with Roger to leave though, he said, did you like the event? And I said, yes it was so great! And he said, yes well the payo de mayo was pretty decent today...when i first came to this country and went to the clubs i was like, wow, what are you doing in public? Again, picture this said with the Argentina accent...soooo funny.
It was fun though to hang out more with people from work and see a bit more of their culture. Cargill is soooo focused on safety and throughout the day I heard so much more that showed how everone in the company focuses on it.
4. Saturday sightseeing
After the Cargill celebration, Roger took me for the day. First we went to Vulcan Masaya. I so wish I could post pictures, but I cant do that yet. Anway, it was absolutely gorgeous on the drive up with all the thick trees and beautiful flowers. It really wasnt that far up in elevation though, I dont think anyway. It was sort of raining and cloudy and when we pulled up the crater it was the most eery thing I have ever seen because you could not see across the crater at all due to the smoke coming out of the volcano! I had been warned what the sulfur would taste like in my nose and my mouth, but I had no idea. After about 5 minutes, I couldnt even talk because it hurt too badly since the sulfur was so thick in the air. Roger said he had never seen the volcano with that much smoke, so I sure hope it doesnt blow while I am here! Just kidding, just kidding...smiley.
Next we drove about 40 minutes to the town of Granada, which happens to be the oldest town in all of Central America. It is the most touristy as well. Lake Nicaragua, the really big lake in the country if you look at the map, is right at the edge of town and apparently, you can get from the Atlantic Ocean to Granada by taking rivers to the lake from the ocean. This also means that back in the 1800s there were actually tons of pirates and buccaneers who ruled the area! Cool, huh? The town is beautiful though, and really reminded me of Old San Juan in Puerto Rico. Roger and I ate lunch at a yummy place and had more chicherones, the fried pig skin and yuka, also plantains and the yummy cheese, and then some delicous meat cooked on a skewer.
We walked around for a bit and then went to a coffee shop in an old hotel that was absolutely adorable! We had some yummy cheesecake, that I cant remember the name of it....but it was delish. Next we drove around to look at the lake and it was beautiful! Around the lake, there was a lot of various pastures wiht cows in them and I even saw a Nicaragua vaquero with cows in the street! Go figure.
The last thing we did was come back to Managua and go see a movie....perhaps you are thinking, oh you saw a movie in Spanish in a trashy movie theater? No, no, no. We actually watched Chronicles of Narnia, in English with Spanish subtitles which is honestly such a helpful way to learn...did I mentioned I watched Friends like this the other day? Anyway, and in the theater were these fancy recliners for all the seats! It was so cool and it was only six dollars for both of us...how great is that? My Tucson friends---too bad our ghetto theater on Grant isnt that nice huh?
Roger is absolutely phenomonal and stinking HILARIOUS. Randomly, he went to college in Jonesboro, Arkansas and knows where my grandparents live in Searcy, Arkansas. He said, Oh yes, I used to be a redneck and I lived in Arkansas, so i had to get boots and a cowboy hat. Are you a city girl? Then I explained about Cochise and he said, OH! You are a redneck too! And you live in the boonies! Okay, please read all of this with your VERY best Argentinian accent adn it is sooo great...smiley.
5. La iglesia
My mama Helen is so good. She got me hooked up with a guy from Georgia who does a lot of mission work in Nicaragua and has worked to start several congregations here. He was in town this weekend, so Fransisco took me to church this morning! It turns out that the guy from Georgia, Roger also brought a guy from Alabama, Pierce. Jennifer Himburg'---he used to live in Doathan!!! Anyway, the building was tiny with no air, plastic seats, and concrete walls...but it was perfect. During Bible Class, Roger taught and Mainor, the main Nicaragua contact for Roger, translated. Roger had a great lesson about giving God our whole heart and being to use. Then there was a 10 minute break. During that break, I shook a lot of hands and got a lot of hugs, and then I walked to the side door to talk to the kids. There were about 10 kids between ages 2 and 10 there, and it was only a matter of time before they were all sitting with me and literally sitting on me some of them! I ended up sitting on the floor with the kids at the side door during church, half loving on the kids and half way listening. The kids were soooo cute though, especially a couple of little girls who just wanted to play wiht my hair. I couldnt understand much of what they said, so i just said si a lot...hopefully that was ok? I was super sad to leave my new friends, especially since I probably wont go back to that congregation since it was a ways away. Roger from GA is going to try and get me hooked up wiht a congregation that is in Masaya, closer to my apartment.
Anyway, church was so, so, so wonderful!!
6. El hefe
After church today, I went to lunch with Javier, his wife, a friend of theirs and their little girl Elisa. Elisa was sooo cute and reminded me a lot of Anna actually. The only bad part is that we couldnt really communicate at all and it was a bit harder to make friends wiht her during the lunch setting. But we went to a really good restaurant that served great steak and the best beans ever and also seviche...which was good. It was kind of a funny moment because Javier went to tell me that this place had the best beans ever, only he said breast beans ever and then corrected himself. He kind of half way smiled but not really, so i couldnt tell if he realized what he said or not....what a great moment though...smiley. All of them spoke English though so it was pretty fun, but sometimes when I listen in Spanish I almost feel like I am eavesdropping.
I have decided that not knowing Spanish is a great blessing, because these people are loving teaching me how to speak it and I think it makes them really comfortable practicing their English with me. If vulnerability and openness builds trust with people, then I am certainly building lots of trust because you cant hide a lack of a language! In all seriousness though, i am understanding more each day. It is always SUCH a great feeling when I can communicate an entire thought in Spanish, even if it isnt perfect. I know this is backwards, but I think next semester I am going to take Spanish again and really focus on learning the language.
8. They are treating me so, so, so good here and I feel absolutely spoiled. Although I have had a few moments when I have felt dumb for not knowing Spanish, or much about marketing, I have realized that the more things I am asked to do this summer that I dont already know just means that I will learn all the more. Trust me, this is definitely a summer of learning!
Okay, I dont really know what else I can write....but it is funny how much has happened in 1 week! I really, really love this place and am pumped for the next few weeks. This week I will be visiting diferent parts of the supply chain and next week visiting many markets here so it is going to be awesome...plus Neenie is coming in the mean time!
I guess this is long enough that there is no way I could have forgotten anything, even though I feel like it is absolutely impossible to get it all down here. I am sending lots of love home though!