Monday, April 30, 2007

My first impressions of Nicaragua

Well, I’ve been in Nicaragua for less than 24 hours and I’ve made some startling discoveries:
1) This is a really hot and muggy country. During the day, it’s always blazingly hot (+36 degrees). It only slightly falls at night time, so air conditioning is not a luxury but a necessity.
2) Managua is a busy, bustling and slightly over-crowded city. It reminds me of Romania somewhat but in a slightly more dirty way. There is a quiet but controlled chaos on the streets with traffic coming from all directions. It is a sight for ears, eyes and smells (exhaust pipes are a polite recommendation)
3) The people are extremely nice and helpful. I am lucky enough to have been allowed to stay with Oscar Senior and Oscar Junior. I’ve been here for maybe 6 hours but already, I feel very much part of the family. They are really wonderful. They live in walking distance to the Mi Crédito office although the head office is elsewhere in the city. MEDA also has an office in Managua. Oscar Senior works there as an accountant.
4) The city is very functional but there are areas to avoid. I get the impression it’s not such a good idea to walk at night. Personal security is always a concern although I think a lot of this is borne by fear rather than a real threat as many Nicas are amazingly helpful and caring.
5) My Spanish is very rusty and needs much work. Although I am improving and I feel myself a bit more confident already, I know I am going up a tall hill to improving my Spanish. I will need to work hard to acquire the necessary skills needed to pass the advanced mid Spanish oral exam. I will not only need to immerse myself in the Spanish language but also its culture and its people.
6) Water is a real issue here. We only have running water in the night time and the morning and it stops between noon and night fall. This is meant to help conserve water but it also demands some interesting planning (there are water garbage cans strewn across the house.
7) There is not really a place where solstice can be had in the downtown area. As the much sprawling urban area has taken away much of the farm land, many Nicas that can afford it have purchased homes in villages around the city. This allows them to escape the pollution, congestion and general business of the city.

Saturday, April 21, 2007

In Preparation for Nicaragua... one week to go

Today, it's a bright 23 degrees and sunny in Toronto. Jess and I just came back from having brunch with Julien, Christopher and Sue-Anne. Ian and Cari are coming over for supper around 7:00 PM. We intend to make it out to Marisa Beck's place for a party later that evening. Tomorrow, I'm moving my personal effects to Jess's place and then I'm coming back to Toronto on Monday for more packing, a meeting with the VP of Personal Banking at RBC (they want to implement our idea and want to know if we can help... Matt thinks they will pay us well but I'm not holding my breath). Then, a board meeting on Monday night as well as Tuesday night. Tuesday morning will be the big move (Aaron will help). I'm putting my stuff in storage for the summer. Finally, on Tuesday afternoon, 2 hour 602 meeting to finalize the work plan for Ten Thousand Villages. Back in Waterloo Tuesday night and I start working for MEDA Wednesday morning until I leave on Saturday for Managua. Phew! And I thought things would calm down after the last