Living Like a Local

Trip Start Sep 28, 2012
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Trip End Apr 09, 2013


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Flag of Nicaragua  , Masaya,
Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Thank you everyone for all your kind remarks!


PHOTOS! Daniel came to the rescue! My pics aren't great quality (my camera won't pick up color vey well), but its an idea of what it is like here!


HIGHLIGHTS: micro-bus rides, cheesecake, chocolate, meeting homestay family, one direction, volcanoes, and more!


FACTOID OF THE WEEK: Nicaragua's revolutionary march took place in 1979 (that's less than 33 years ago! Yipes!). It marked the day Somoza fled the country to be assassinated shortly after. The Sandinista National Liberation Front (FSLN) which is still the leading party here, took over. The war that preceded this takeover took the lives of over 50, 000 Nicaraguans (majority boys aged 15 and 16 who were forced to fight), and left some 150, 000 as refugees. Their sacrifice provided freedom from Somoza's regime. Locals here show great pride for the accomplishments of the revolution. Every street post and even trees are painted red and black (for blood and grief) and the FSLN flag is EVERYWHERE. Fascinating history this country has. I definitely suggest checking it out on the net for more info!


COMO SE DICE "LOVING LIFE" EN ESPANOL?

Spanish classes are coming along. Three weeks in and I've learned how to say things in past, present, future, imperfect, and conditional! Jeepers! I've had classes throughout the week with only Spanish speaking teachers, and I've come out each day alive, great practice!

Took a microbus to San Marcos today, and had THE worlds best cheesecake. Now I've had many a good cheesecake in my 18 years, but this topped them all!

Joined in on a good ol'fashioned guitar singalong this week too. Someone from La Mariposa has lugged their guitar traveling with them, so everyone took the opportunity to visit a piece of land in the evening overlooking the valley, to play tunes and have a beer. The interesting part? A local nearby heard our terrible singing and wanted to show us his tunes. He inverted the guitar and started a beat on the body of it. Next thing we knew we were listening to freestyle Nicaraguan rap! It was amazing even though I didn't understand a single word!

The biggest surprise highlight of the week? Salsa lessons! (I know what your thinking: Alysia Latin dance = disaster) BUT thanks to some friendly peer-pressure from Daniel, I actually had the time of my life! (It also helped that the teacher was smokin :) This class made me realize that not all gringos lack rhythm (except I am one who certainly still does!).

Volcanoes galore. Trekked on a sweltering day up Volcan Mombacho and by the end, I thought I was going to have to physically lift my legs up the last few meters! It then poured rain as we explored the area around the crater with a guide. Soaked and happy, we had conquered the volcano! OLAY!


I'M ADOPTED?!?!?!?

Just kidding! Well sorta....

After two weeks in the cabin at La Mariposa, I took I GIGANTIC step outside my comfort zone. New family, new customs, new language, new everything! But moving in with a Nicaraguan family has been my best decision on this trip so far.

At first, I'll admit, I wasn't sure of my place within the family. The family welcomed me with open arms, but my defensive instinct led me to be a bit timid about involving myself in their daily lives. The mama made sure I felt at home though as she said the perfect thing that completely took down my guard: "Mi casa es tu casa. Ahora, eres parte de mi familia." SOLD! I had landed the best family ever! I am now temporarily adopted =)

My new Nicaraguan family: Mama, brother and sister (bit older than I), a brother-in-law (lot older than I), niece (15 months old), and two dogs all living in one home. I'm loving it!

Funny part? Alysia and Alesia.
After a few days of having warm milk bottles, and mushed banana and bread for my breakfast, I realized that when they called for Alysia to come to the kitchen, they really meant Alesia, the 15 month old! Ok ok so I didn't actually eat mushed banana, but it has been quite funny as I keep responding to both names! In Nicaragua, people receive two given names at birth with the addition of taking on the family name. The little girl in the home, is named Alesia Camila and they call her by both on a regular basis. I've got it straight now, but boy was it confusing the first few days!

Bonding moment with my Nicaraguan brother Josi? How does singing along to a One Direction (popular english boy band) concert on tv sound?!?! I had a blast the other night as we sang and I tried to translate the lyrics to Spanish (awfully terribly I might add!) It went late into the night and I hadn't laughed that hard in a LONG time! For this reason, I have a new found appreciation for One Direction, which I certainly didn't before =) Thanks for the good memories lads!


MONKEYS, CHICKENS AND BUGS.... OH MY!

Living in the beautiful tropical climate of Nicaragua certainly has its perks (no snow!), but with the good, comes the not so good :) don't get me wrong, it's splendid having monkeys as neighbors (cheeky and smart), but the bugs are another story! There are bugs here that I didn't even know existed: flat spiders bigger than your palm (harmless, but scared the crap outta me at first!), multi-headed flying beetle things, ants that bite (a lot!), cockroaches and scorpions of course. Good news? There aren't that many mosquitos! Yay!

At La Mariposa, they make an effort to rescue as many animals as possible, rehabilitating them, then returning them to the wild. They currently have parakeets, parrots, monkeys, a dozen dogs, at least eight cats, and more residing in their property as rescues. But in the seven years of being open, hundreds of animals from turtles, to toucans, to horses and even anteaters! WILD! But my question: where do the animals come from? I found out that many of the domesticated species have come to La Mariposa due to abandonment or malnourishment. The more tropical breeds, such as monkeys and parrots, were brought there by the police who confiscated them from smugglers. It's heartbreaking, but some of the smuggling methods used for animals include: stuffing birds inside toilet paper rolls (in which they can't move a muscle or make a sound), or soaking monkeys and other warm blooded animals to the bone - then putting them in or on vehicles with the idea that it takes every ounce of the animal's energy to stay warm that they can't make noise. Cruel, but true stories for many of the animals at La Mariposa.

On a happier note, I took part in the beginning stages of a turtle rescue this week (Daniel too!). We manually hauled water out of a giant concrete pit (5x10x5 ish meters) using buckets and rope. I discovered water is RIDICULOUSLY heavy! The turtles were in the sediment at the bottom of the pit so we needed to remove a LOT of water to access them. And this water was disgusting! Filled with gunk from years of use. The group came away hands plastered with blisters, and clothes covered in icky swamp water. It'll take a few more rounds of water hauling to gain access though. I'll keep you updated on the continuing adventures of turtle rescuing!

Well, that's it for now! Only a week and a bit left in this beautiful country :( I'm definitely gonna miss it!

Hasta Luego!
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Comments

Shelley Strobl on

Fantastic photos Alysia!!!! Many thanks to Daniel for helping you out! The friendships you are developing will be memories forever. Those moments when you see such beauty in the land, animals, locals, and guests will carry you through life, and will make you smile when you reflect on your travels.
Many wonderful comments from friends and the like on your Blogs, most of us have now become followers, waiting in anticipation of your next travel story! Do continue the story,........ Lots of Love, MOM XOXO.

Shirley on

Great pictures Alysia, enjoying your blogs. Take care
Shirley

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