Thursday, February 19, 2015

Poetry Festival, School, and a Lighter in the Hammock

This week in Granada has been a slow one. Well, only if your definition of "slow" is getting up at 6am with no coffee and barely time to eat anything because you have to get to school by 7:30 and it's a 35-40 minute walk through the barrio in the morning heat. That kind of slow.

It is our first full week in school, and I'm in a different one from summer school. At first, I didn't like it. I missed my kids from summer school and was convinced I'd never bond with these new ones. Then today, a chica named Maria Jose grabbed my hand and wanted me to play with her during recess. And when Dillon, a shy 4-year-old with a bowl cut and no idea how to make eye contact, asked me to draw some letters for him so that he could then trace them, I almost cried.

Children are like that, I'm learning. They turn to trust just when you're starting to think you'll never be able to connect. Before this, my experience was limited to a few babysitting gigs in high school and college, and now I'm helping a teacher corral and teach 40 of them who do not speak my language. It gets better every day, though I'm definitely learning as I go. Among other things, I'm getting really good at saying "stop," "sit down," and "hand me your plate" in Spanish.

Besides school, life in Granada is hot, and lovely. This week is the national poetry festival, and from our house we can hear the festivities in Parque Central. Yesterday, though sweaty and tired from school, we all decided to venture out to watch a parade for the festival. It was full of dancers and bands and lots of dresses and outfits in Nicaraguan colors.

Tomorrow, we're heading north to a beach near Leon called Las Penitas. Though I've already had my fair share of beaches this year, I'm not about to say no to a weekend on the Pacific.


Tuesday, February 10, 2015


Alright, I know. Bad, bad blogger. I haven't written in a while and I feel really sorry about it. Well, okay, so not that sorry because I've been in a Caribbean paradise for the last week and I "couldn't be assed" to worry about blogging.

The Corn Islands are two islands--Big and Little--located east of Nicaragua in the Caribbean Sea. Big Corn has an airstrip, and some beaches, but Little Corn is where it's at. The only way to get to Little Corn is to take a panga, an open air boat where they pack 40 of us on like sardines. It's a 30 minute ride through the rough seas. It was very bumpy and water sprayed us once we got to full speed. Some people were soaked by the time we docked at Little Corn.

Because no cars are allowed on Little Corn and it has a population of just over 1,000, it feels remote. Not quite Tom Hanks in Castaway, but it is isolated and quiet enough to hear a light rainstorm on the tin roof, and find nothing on the beach at night except sand and stars. Most of my days began by sipping coffee at a shack on the main strip, looking out at the ocean and wondering what the day might bring. In the afternoons, I alternated between lounging in a hammock with a good book, swimming in the ocean, and walking to the North shore to tread along the white beaches.

Braving the possibility of choking on saltwater, we snorkeled one morning and saw sharks, a turtle, barracudas, and lots of fish. Another morning, I tried to SCUBA dive again. It has been 6 years since I last scuba dove in Israel, and I knew I needed a refresher course. No problem, right?


Apparently, I have a lot more to live for now than I did 6 years ago. I was breathing too hard and couldn't descend, even when the instructor gave me extra weight. After a few more attempts, it was pretty clear that I couldn't do it. Floating back to the beach on our backs, Stefano and I made small talk. Originally from Italy, he had been on the island for almost 7 months, I assume scuba diving every single day. For a moment, I was jealous of him and his island dwelling life. Then I had to stand up with the full weight of the tank on my back, and it jolted me back to reality. No scuba diving for me this trip. I felt a little dejected, but there it is. Maybe I will try again one day.

But I did try to climb a palm tree. Still no arm muscles.

Coffee with a view.

The Shack -- best place for breakfast

I definitely recommend Little Corn Island for a relatively cheap Caribbean getaway. There are a few resorts on the island and probably many more adventurous things I could have done, but I enjoyed being low key: cooking dinner one night with friends, reading in a hammock, and squishing my toes through the sand while sipping an icy cold Tona. Next time, maybe I'll expend more energy. Ehh, then again, maybe not.

One of many island dogs.