It was not too long ago I was day dreaming in one of my last college classes about what Nicaragua was going to feel like, what kind of weather I would experience, what kind of people I would meet. Fast forward a couple of months, I’ve graduated college and have also just landed in Managua, Nicaragua. I brought 2 massive suitcases each weighing precisely 50 pounds (the max limit) and my backpacker’s bag that I somehow managed to squeeze into the plane as a carry-on. Other than these 3 items, I brought heaps of curiosity and an open mind to take on this new adventure. Our first 3-day orientation took place in the hotel directly across the street from the airport in Managua, little did we know this was going to be the most luxurious place we’d stay in for the rest of our 2 years in Nicaragua. During this time, we all made an effort to get to know our group of 38 trainees that make up the TEFL (English) and Environment sector of Nica 70 (the 70th group of Peace Corps Volunteers in Nicaragua). I knew I had been placed somewhere special after our group one night at dinner ordered water for the table and not only did they not mind my suggestion to order without plastic straws, but rather loved the idea and encouraged it at every meal. A burden I once felt I was by being the voice of ecological reason had been lifted and for a change I felt supported and heard, it felt so right.
Over the course of the next 3 days at the orientation retreat every volunteer was bombarded with safety measures, medical handbooks and kits, cellphone chips, Spanish grammar books, Spanish dictionaries, environmental classroom guides, cultural workbooks and so much more. It was information for hours and hours every day along with language interviews and placement. We also got to meet current volunteers who have been in Nicaragua for a year now; many of them living in several different departments scattered all over Nicaragua. On the third and final day of our retreat we were all sent off to different “pueblitos” or towns in Carazo to move into the homes of families we will be sharing a home and culture with for the next 3 months of pre-service training.
Diriamba, Carazo is the department I am situated in, a fairly populated city with accessible grocery stores, restaurants and bars, the complete opposite of some other sites some Peace Corps trainees are living in. I am living with Doña Yeseñia and her two daughters, Daniela and Alejandra. This family has been totally supportive of my vegan diet and the girls remind me of my sister and I. It feels home-y. There are 4 other volunteers living here in Diriamba and attending language classes with me, Britton, Anna, Henry and Ozzy, my familia and support group. We have become pretty close, that’s kind of what happens when you bond over diarrhea and the lack of running water in your life. We watch movies, go on runs together, get cat-called together and work together and I wouldn’t have it any other way, except maybe the cat-calling we could all do without.
We are coming up on week 4 of Pre-Service Training, leaving us with 8 more weeks before our swearing in ceremony when we become official volunteers!