From salsa to salamanders

Trip Start Sep 04, 2009
Trip End Feb 19, 2010

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Where I stayed
Kolola Lounge
Mumbacho Volcano

Flag of Nicaragua  ,
Friday, October 9, 2009

Week one of placements:
Wow, there are A LOT of babies being born in the country. In my two placements, I get to experience the best stages. Little, fat, jolly babies/ toddlers in the hospitals, and adorable 8-10 yr olds at the Soccer School. I love it!
So far my placementsare concerned,  they are mostly consisting of a lot of observing. In the mornings I am in either at Santiago Hospital, here in Jinotepe, or at San Jose Hospital in Diriamba (next town over). My impressions so far are as follows:
1) a lot of babies 2) childbirth is NOT pretty 3) lots of babies 4) lots of Dengue fever 5) lots of malnurishment and parasites.
I am so overwhelmed between the diagnosing of things in fast-paced Spanish that by the end of the 4 and a half hours I have been there, I am pooped... and then its off to play soccer with a bunch of rowdy boys.

Did I mention I have become the very essence of that which I despise? Yes, it is true, I am now a cyclist.... I don't even know myself anymore hahah. I figure it's excusable because biking the 7km to Diriamba (where the school and one of the hospitals are located) is all along the Pan American Hwy. As Renee put it so eloquently, it's Mario Cart Death Edition. I get to compete for a 2ft sidewalk with scooters, horse-carts, runners, other cyclists and tuk-tuks. The trick is to avoid all of these oponents and not be thrust into the moving traffic (which is largelyconsisting of Semi trucks because of our close proximity to the Costa Rican border). So needless to say, it's thrill-cycling.

To celebrate the completion of my first week, myself and few more of the volunteers went to spend a night in the colonial city of Granada. I LOVE THIS PLACE! It is too beautiful to even describe, the architecture is classic Spanish and it borders a gorgeous lake with little islands in it (formed by the eruption of Mumbacho Volcano).
After a night of dancing, we headed to the volcano, and proceeded to hike up (round 2). Suzanne and I are the "senior" volunteers of the group since we have been here a month longer, and as such have decided that as a right of passage, every new volunteer must walk up to the top of the volcano rather than catch a ride with the park rangers. It is 1200m of elevation, and about 6km of steep roads. That night we slept in the lodge at the top, it was the first night I have been cool in a long time. We trekked around the jungle in the pitch black for a few hours, checking out salamanders and frog eggs.. very fun. Hard to see though, since we were in the middle of the clouds. The following morning we proceeded to hike more, about 4 hours more to be precise, through what is known as the "puma trail.' Pumas, for the record, are cougars. After learning the names of several hundred plants (all in Spanish, so don't ask, because I have no idea), we headed back home to Jinotepe in order to try and recuperate before we went back to work Monay... it is now Tuesday, and I still cannot walk down stairs.

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