This is Brenna for the first time!!! So here we are visiting our site, the place we will call home for the next two years of our lives. It´s a small town of 6,000 people called Malpaisillo, in the department of Leon. Malpaisillo translates into ¨bad little country.¨ It´s kind of a funny name. We are located in one of the hottest parts of the country, which will definitely be our biggest challenge. We´re on the edge of Nicaragua´s volcanic chain, and we have a view of about 6 of the 11 volcanoes from right outside of the town. So the bike rides to our little schools are very beautiful! Our town is surrounded by volcanoes and fields of soy, peanut and corn. It reminds me a lot of parts of the Texas hill country, with volcanoes instead of hills. The people have been nothing but friendly, which has really made us feel good.
Mason will be working with four different elementary schools, and I will have three. His are all a good bike ride outside of town. His farthest is a 18K bumpy, hot, dusty ride to a tiny countryside school on the base of the beautiful and very active Cerro Negro volcano. My farthest school is 13 hot, dusty and bumpy kilometeres away! School is from 7-noon, so the ride in the morning will be great, and the way home will be soooo hot! I actually wore long sleeves yesterday on our bike ride because the sun is so intense. The students in these schools are so wonderful. These are the families who live in the middle of nowhere who have to bike long distances on tiny country roads just to get to school. They can't afford uniforms or shoes, and they come to school dirty, but somehow they make it. The teachers are remarkable too. They make less then $100 a month, and they walk or ride through sun and rain for miles to teach these kids every day. It´s a shame that a lot of kids who live out there never even go to school, or they drop out early. Many families can´t even afford the notebook and pencil.
Our town seems to be a very laid back and happy place. I think we´ll fit in well here. Most of the families are broken due to the large ammout of mothers or fathers working abroad. Many are in Costa Rica and the US working as cooks, gardeners, construction workers, etc... There are NO jobs in this country. The economy is so bad that most families have at least one person sending money from abroad. That is how our host family here survives, and it is how this economy stays afloat. In our family there are 5 people and a 5 day old baby living off the father´s wages as a gardener in L.A. He payed a coyote to cross the border 14 years ago. My mom here has lots of stories of people she knows who have died crossing the border from Mexico. These people are our family and friends now, so it really brings the immigrant situation home for us.
Politics... Things are heating up big time! The presidential vote is in 4 days, and there is really no idea of what will happen. It´s seeming like it´s 50-50 between communism and democracy. It´s a really historical time to be here. Many people are very scared, and people are just holding their breath. The newspaper reports that Daniel Ortega paid for thousands of Nicaraguan students studying medicine in Cuba to come home and vote. It´s all very scandalous and dirty.
I guess that´s all for now. We´re having a blast and just enjoying what comes our way every day. Thanks for folowing along! -Brenna