Friday, December 20, 2013

Dr. Meow: 20 December 2013

(Sorry this is two days late--we have had problems with internet as well as meetings in Managua that have switched around our schedules. I wrote this Monday but am sending it today. With permission, Dad. No worries. )

Hola familia y amigos!

Rutas + billowy skirts = bad combination.  Let's just say Nicaragua saw a whole other side of me today. And I wish I was joking.

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

I Used My Bugspray as Perfume: 9 December 2013

 ¡Hola familia y amigos!

I used my bugspray as perfume today because our supposedly clean laundry smells like death this week. And if you were wondering, I hate the smell of bugspray. Oh well. I have decided I just don't care anymore, haha.

First of all, I promised I would describe the market scene in my last email, so I'll do that now.  The market closest to the Central is the coolest--tons of huge umbrellas in primary colors blocking out the sun for each of the many vendors set up in their little shacks and tents. There are little sections blocked off for each vendor, some shelves bearing nothing but tons of ripe pineapples, huge woven baskets filled with yellow/green oranges (Green oranges. It's a thing.), limes, platanos (Plantains, which I eat every single day here in various forms. Boiled, fried, mashed, cut into strips and dried like potato chips . . . you name it.), bananas, sugar cane, coconuts, fish, crabs crawling around in buckets, gigantic papaya (which I don't really like that much. The outside is yellow tinged with green, and the inside is a deep orange color. The taste is bland. It is, however, good in smoothies), giant bags propped up in rows filled with uncooked rice and various types of beans and spices, and everwhere, everywhere, little bolsitas (little bags) filled with various things. I've seen bolsitas strung up filled with ketchup and mustard and mayonaise, with water, various juices, flour, salt, bike parts, you name it.  There's something kind of fun about ducking in and out of the umbrellas, side-stepping rutas and horses and cars and motorcycles and taxis and triculos (a man riding a bike with a two or three person bench behind him on wheels and covered by a little canopy) and other people.  You don't wait to cross the road, you just go for it and assume they'll move for you--which they almost always do, but I've had a few close encounters that got my heart racing.

Sunday, December 8, 2013

Two Cats in a Birdcage: December 2, 2013

¡Hola familia y amigos!

I would just like everyone to know that dreams do come true.  Last week on the night before Thanksgiving I had an abnormally long dream about cake.  I was making cake, and eating cake, and walking around in bakeries full of cake...and when I woke up in the morning, well, I'm sure you can imagine, I wanted cake (shout out to Emily Pickett--your chocolate cake at 2 am is still the greatest).  Well, my dreams were fulfilled! The woman who makes our lunch, Iris, made four cakes (yes, four) for her daughter's birthday party that day, and I had to help make the cakes (mixing with my hands because they don't have a mixer), and was then given a cake for myself.  It was a fat, happy day for Hermana Najarro and I.  The cakes here kind of taste like twinkies held together by sweetened condensed milk, and that is fine by me.

Gigatonas: November 25, 2013

¡Hola famila y amigos!

Spanish lesson of the week for you: Foco = lightbulb.  Foca = seal (as in, the aquatic animal).  When you ask someone who owns a tiny little shop on the street corner if they sell focas, they can and will laugh at you.  haha 

I don't know why I haven't remember to write about this earlier, because it's definitely not a normal tradition: "Gigatonas" (higga-tone-uhs).  Every night here for the month of November, people dress up in these giant, 12 foot creepy looking Barbie doll costumes and grace (or plague) the streets of Nicaragua. No one knows exactly why they do it, just that it's a tradition from Spain--I want someone to Google it and tell me.  There are at least six or seven Gigatonas in our area in Leon alone; someone steps inside the doll (the person's heas is at about the section of the doll's midriff), and dances around, swaying the doll's long arms and tiered ruffled dress and long, colorful plastic-streamer hair in the process.  You always know when one is coming because they're followed by a procession of little boys banging loudly on drums and another boy wearing a giant head of some sort of Hispanic looking man jumping around in circles (he kind of looks like an apish Mexican bobble head).  Hermana Najarro and Rosita (the member here who goes out and teaches with us almost every day--more on her later, she's awesome) have decided the Gigatonas are my descendants, because they're the only things here that are taller than me. One Hermana in our district is terrified of them (she actually runs away when she sees one coming, haha).  But apart from the  fact that the drums are annoying because you can't hear anything when they pass by, I think it's a fun tradition.

FIRST BAPTISM (and Pupusas!): November 18, 2013

¡Hola familia y amigos!

Recently I have just been entertained by the things tell me in English.  There are two words for white-girl here, "Chela" and "Gringa," and I respond to both respectively.  My favorite occurrence this week was with a possibly intoxicated man with a mustache sitting on the street corner, who called after me (imagine your best low, dumb beefy-guy voice), "Chela. I lohve yoo fohreverr."  Hna. Najarro says that to me almost every day now. 

What I find entertaining is that many people will say things to me in English just because they know how to say them.  For example, a man on a bike turned around to declare loudly, "It is hot." Yes, yes, it is.  Thank you.  Or, "Byeeee!!!" haha The graffiti here is equally as funny.  Just random words in English that don't really mean anything. "You are a boy." "Cool man." "It is here."   Whatever "it" is, it wasn't there. The building it was written on was abandoned long ago.

Attack of the Insects: November 11, 2013

¡Hola familia y amigos!

I. Hate. Insects.  I hate them hate them hate them.  And this week, they were out to get me.  

I killed ten huge cockroaches in our house this week. TEN.  All the size of tablespoons or larger.  Ugh....I don't even want to know how many are actually in our house. And then we picked up our laundry from Johanna's house across the street and returned to our house, I noticed some food or something had been spilled onto the mesh laundry bag, and ALL of my clothes were just teeming with these tiny little ant/weevil like insects.  I know it's silly and dumb, but I just...cried. hahaha I just feel so disgusting here, all of the time.  I love nature and being outdoors, but I also like to smell good and feel clean, and here I just feel so GROSS all of the time. My hair is gross, my skin is gross, I smell weird, my clothes smell weird, there are ants all over my books, and now a little colony of new friends that live in my clothes. I needed a minute to compose myself, and then I was fine.  I still love it here, no worries.

Taxi Mishap: November 4, 2013

Hola familia y amigos!

Story time!! I have so many stories for you this week, I hope I have time to write them all down.  The smallest of which is that, for the first time in my life, I saw a chicken cross the road.  It was an oddly pensive moment for me.  All of those "why did the chicken cross the road" jokes took on a whole new meaning.  And, if you were wondering, the chicken actually sprinted across the road to avoid being squashed by a motorcycle.  Now you know.

Pinolillo: October 28, 2013

Hola familia y amigos!

"And it came to pass, that Hermana Behan did consume much rice and grow fat, like unto the beasts of the field." 1 Caribbeans 6:3

I'm getting used to the food, but if I'm not careful, I'm going to "engordar" and come back to you with just that more more of me to love, haha.  We eat whatever we want for breakfast, and then we have a big lunch at a member's house and are expected to eat all of it.  We don't eat dinner, which is kind of sad, because every day around 7 I feel hungry sorry for myself.  I ate a cucumber with peanutbutter for dinner the other day.  It tasted about as good as it sounds.  That and Ritz con Queso or delicious bread from Panerias..  But Hermana Najarro and I have sworn ourselves away from both of those things....too dangerous.  I tried two new drinks this week as well! Tiste, which is a clowdy brown color, sort of an horchata like texture, and tastes slightly like beans and sugar and a hint of coffee (it's not coffee, no worries).  Also Pinolillo, which Nicaragua is famous for.  It's also a murky brown color with flecks of tan colored floaties in it, which are apparently pieces of toasted corn.  It tastes like...toasted corn and cocoa powder, and water, which is all it is.  It was expecting it to taste like dirt, so I'll take what I can get.

Spanish Catch Phrase: October 24, 2013

Hola familia y amigos!

Let it be known throughout the land, I have OFFICIALLY FINISHED MY FIRST WEEK IN NICARAGUA, AND I'M NOT DEAD YET! No parasites so far! I'd say that's a success! I might just die from heat exhaustion, though. I am convinced that on his way down through the seven levels
of hell, Dante passed briefly through Nicaragua.

If any of you decided to come and visit me, it would be fairly easy to find me, because I might just be the only gringa (white girl) here. I'm the one with the shiny skin and poofy hair who everyone honks at (everyone..all taxis. Everytime.), blows kisses at/whistles at (five times today), or yells random things I don't understand...which is probably a good thing.

The Justice of Oranges: October 21, 2013

Hola familia y amigos!

Okay, wow.  I don´t even know where to begin--there is so much to say!
 Leaving the CCM was sad, and I am pretty sure I took the last hot shower I
will have in 17 months, but I was ready to go and teach actual people and
not just my teachers, although Hermano May truly was fantastic.  He might
just be a General Authority someday; I wouldn´t be surprised.

So here´s what happened in a quick blerb: woke up at 4, got ready and
weighed my luggage (both of my suitcases were exactly 50 lbs, hallelujah),
got on the bus at 6:30, drove to the airport, went through airport
security, and after waiting in the airport for about 2 hours (and talking
to a nice stranger about the Church and Star Wars), boarded a plane for
Panama!   On the flight, I made yet another Spanish mistake.  Juicio =
Justice.  Jugo = Juice.  But, I mixed up the two, and when the stewardess
came over I asked her for Juicio de Naranjas, or, the Justice of Oranges.
 She laughed and corrected me.  But I stand by my statement. They have been
oppressed for too long.  Drink apple juice, my friends.

Made it safe! October 18, 2013

ONly have 30 seconds, but I am safe and sound. I'll email you all about everything this coming monday! love you all!


Cuatro. Dias. Mas.: October 10, 2013

Elder Jamias (speaking to the Hermanas in our District): "There's a kind, loving, chiseled piece of man waiting for all of you guys."
Elder Ledakis: "Hey! We are not objects."
Hola famila y amigos!
This is going to be the lamest, shortest email I have written up to this point, so bear with me.  I have twenty minutes to write this, and I'm going to make those minutes count with my speedy typing skills.
Four more days at the CCM. Four. More. Days.  I can't even believe it; time just doesn't seem to exist here.  I just went to the temple today for the last time in 17 months, if you can believe it.  I'm going to miss Mexico. The colorful laundry drying outside on cement rooftops, the billboards, the gutsy pedestrians who walk into the middle of the road and weave in and out of four lanes of traffic, the billboards and advertisements and chaos everywhere.  It's kind of a decaying city, but a beautiful sort of decay, if that makes sense.

Mexican Hunger Games: October 3, 2013

Hola familia y amigos!
I only have 11 days left in the CCM.  In the word's of Napolean Dynamite's Kip, "I guess you could say things are getting pretty serious."
This week, not going to lie, was pretty uneventful, so I will try my best to make this email entertaining.  First of all, there is a loud cannon sound that goes off every couple of hours, particularly towards night time.  It reminds me of the Hunger Games.  A loud reverberating boom that goes off and wakes us all up and gets everyone revved up to switch into attack/survival mode.  It's either Mexican Hunger Games or some old Mexican guy who chills by his goat in the mountains and periodically lights off fireworks and/or shoots things. Hopefully not his goat.

Hurricane Volleyball, Anyone? September 26, 2013

Hola familia y amigos!
I was told this week by two random people that I look like "the living version of Belle" and also Anastasia.   I look like neither, but hey, I'll take the compliments. It's better than being compared to the actor who plays Peter Pan or Justo Lamas or the other men in the world I apparently look like.
There isn't as much to report on from this last week, but man has it flown.  Seriously, I cannot believe I'm halfway through my time at the MTC.  I love it here.  I was under the impression people either hated the MTC or loved it, and I side with those who love it.  Yes, I'm definitely going to be ready to leave, but Hermana Hawkins and I have really been pushing ourselves this week to study hard and focus, and it's been paying off.  (Just a tad about Hna Hawkins: Such a cute girl, sooo so tiny and petite, beautiful voice, and she tells the corniest jokes I have ever heard in my entire life.  Such as, 'Give a man a match and he'll be warm for a minute.. Light him on fire and he'll be warm for the rest of his life;' or, 'I used to play sports, then I realized you can buy trophies. Now I'm good at everything.'  She has the most impressive knowledge of the lamest jokes I have ever been subjected to. When I met her in the airport, she told me a joke, and I actually had the thought, 'I am going to avoid this girl because that was just too much awkwardness to handle.' The Lord is a funny guy, because now we're companions, and I love her.  We have both come so far in our Spanish, and we work really well together during lessons.  No companion drama. Hallelujah.).

El Mosquito Diablo: September 19, 2013

Hermana Graham: "I swear I keep killing them and they keep coming back to life and have more babies every night."
Me: "The Mexicans?!"
Graham: "The mosquitos!!"
Hola Todos!
I woke up this morning, looked in the mirror, and realized I looked like the blonde guy from "Dumb & Dumber."  Crazy hair, and bags underneath the bags on my eyes.  It was a bit of a disconcerting realization.

No Estoy Embarassada: September 12, 2013

Hola familia y amigos!
I am happily settled into Mexico! I barely had any time to say goodbye at the airport (I nearly lost it in the security line after saying goodbye to Dad), and then it was straight on through security and on to Texas.  When I arrived in Dallas, my plan was to sit in the aiport pitifully by myself and mope, but a mob of other missionaries met up in the same gate as me and there wasn't even time to be sad.  I met three sisters going to the same mission as me! Hermana Howell, Rogers, and Hawkins (Hawkins is my companion for the MTC). The flight from Dallas to Mexico went well--I had a window seat (my favorito) and it was fun to see the perfect geographically mapped out squares and circles of fields in America turn into haphazard boundary lines and chaos.  The MTC, or CCM, as it is called here, is right in the middle of the craziness.  There are so many buildings they look like they're just stacked one on top of the other.  As soon as we arrived at the airport in Mexico City, we passed through customs and I followed five other sisters straight out of airport security....without picking up our bags first.... I don't know how we didn't think to grab them, but we didn't, and we no longer had our customs papers to get back through.  So we back-tracked, and somehow I ended up being the orator who attempted to explain to the workers why we all needed to go back through the gates.  So, as it was a sufficiently embarrassing situation, I told airport security, "Lo siento, necesitamos nuestra equipaje--lo siento. Estoy muy embarassada." Which, I thought meant, "So sorry, we all need our luggage. I'm sorry, I'm so embarrassed," but which actually translates to, "So sorry, we all need our luggage. I'm sorry, I'm very pregnant." That raised some eyebrows.    After a few minutes of brief confusion, and realizing what I had said, we were able to pass through and get our luggage.  And for the record, no, I'm not pregnant.