Sunday, March 25, 2007

Culture Shock? What Culture Shock? For Now.

I think there is a good chance that I am alone on this one, but I think it is so funny to watch Alaskan fishermen on the Discovery channel's 'Deadliest Catch' dubbed in Spanish! Almost the only word I've really understood so far is cerveza.

Time after time I've been surprised at how little there is for me to adjust to here. The language issue is huge, for sure, but there's not that much else different. Or maybe I've just been here too long already :) The apples are even grown in Washington! Last night, a few volunteers and I went and saw the movie Asi (which had English subtitles and was like plenty independent movies I've seen in Seattle). Afterwards we went to dinner at a great Italian place after we found out the Indian and Chinese places we checked out weren't serving dinner anymore. The main thing that was different from Seattle is that there aren't as many Thai restaurants!

Ashley and I were in charge of cooking dinner for all the volunteers and directors of the houses last Thursday, so we went to WalMart Wednesday night, picked up frozen pizzas, ingredients to put on top and some frozen blackberries for dessert. Ok, this next part is going to be about food, so if you don't care about dessert, now is the time to skip ahead. I was pretty happy with how it turned out. I made lime curd from eggs, lime juice (there's always plenty of limes around), sugar and unsalted butter. I made pie crust with flour, a little sugar, a little salt and more unsalted butter, then I glazed the blackberries with a boiled water/sugar mixture. To plate it, I baked the pie crust in three inch rounds, then sandwiched the curd between two of the rounds and drizzled the berries over the top. I really wish I had taken a picture of it now, but you're probably glad I'm not spending any more time on this topic than I already have :) I was especially happy with how it turned out since I don't have any measuring cups or spoons and except for stirring the curd and the berry glaze with a spoon, did everything by hand, literally, there are hardly any utensils around either. I'll get pictures next time :)

Today, a few of the volunteers and I went with the girls at the orphanage to Tepoztlan today. It's a little town that has a hike up to a temple that was built around the same time as the ruins I visited last weekend. The beginning of the hike and the end of the market run over the top of each other as market stalls are built partway up the trail. It's only about 2 km to the temple, but it has an elevation gain of over 1,300 feet, so since I'm already starting at about a mile about sea level, it certainly took a little bit of effort. The picture at left isn't the most beautiful landscape I've ever taken. But it's at least impressive to me when I think about the fact that it's the town that we started the hike in. I was also very happy with how the girls did. The idea for the hike came about because Ashley and I both come from backgrounds that taught us we were capable of anything we set our minds to, and we've both taken it to heart. Here, however, the girls have virtually no examples of women doing anything other than having children, maybe running a shop, often doing whatever she needs to to support the children herself. While neither one of us will be around all that long, all we can think of to do is showing the girls that they can do things that aren't necessarily traditional for women to do in Mexico.

The current plan is for me to leave for Nicaragua around April 9th. This next week is my last week of language school here. But the week after that is Holy week ending with Easter during which time everyone at all the orphanages are extremely busy. I decided I would rather go to Miacatlan for the end of that week than go and hang out by myself in Nicaragua. That way, when I do go to Nicaragua, Marlon, the National Director will have more time orient me to the situation there and I can get started working right away.

We really need to get the land resurveyed, the only topographical survey we have so far is only to the 5 meter level of detail. To actually design buildings, we need something much more detailed. We also need to get some soil testing done. I've spend a fair amount of time on the Internet trying to find companies, but they really don't have a presence on the web. The only exception is the PaginaAmarillas (the YellowPages), but I'm not at a place with my Spanish speaking ability that I can just call up someone in Nicaragua and tell whether they'll be good for the job or not.
All in all, week three wasn't to bad! I got an email from Jesse, he's doing well and may even get to come home from Baghdad on time at the end of June, although the Army doesn't share things like deployment extensions too far ahead of time. I'm not quite sure how the latest happenings in Congress might affect the whole thing.
Have a wonderful last week of March!


eileen said...

Nicole, thank you for taking the time to keep us up to speed, love hearing about you and all that is going on in your life, how I would love to be experiencing this w/ you :) if I just weren't so old!! Sounds as if that is not an excuse either.
Sending you lotza love and prayers

Nic said...

Thanks Eileen! I can use it all! And no, unfortunately age isn't an excuse, my great grandparents went to New Guinea in their seventies! On the other hand I was walking up a hill in the heat of the afternoon the other day and decided that I'm glad I'm doing this now!