Monday, February 12, 2007

Rodeos and More!

At the beginning of February before I really got into the swing of work, I went to visit Celine, another volunteer, in her site. They were in the midst of celebrating their Fiestas Patronales (losely translated Patron Saint Day). They happen to have 2 Patron Saints so they get to celebrate twice a year in February and August! This time around the fiesta was tainted by a death at the beginning of the week of one of the well-known farm owners in town. Out of respect, another farmer who was supposed to loan all his famous bulls for the rodeo that Friday, pulled out- leaving the fiesta organizers scrambling to find more bulls to ride. They found them, but they were small and rather tame making the rodeo less exciting than usual.

But that, of course, didn´t stop Celine and I from getting all dolled up and making our appearance with Susan, another volunteer. We were making fun of ourselves and decided we had to get a picture of the rediculousness. Susan was kind enough to take a picture of Celine and me:

Try downloading this video of the rodeo and let me know if you can watch it (email me at

Other than visiting volunteers and watching rodeos, my time has been occupied by work. Finally! I´m enjoying work for the most part, though it has a constant depressing undertone to it. I have been attending a lot of meetings lately, and there´s always a part of it that gets under my skin. The lack of organization is most of it. At the last meeting the teachers held for the parents of their students, the teachers actually got into a cat fight right in front of them! No pulling hair or scratching with nails, but they were pretty darn close!! And then a week later at a teacher-only meeting with the director of the 12 schools, the high school spanish teacher stood up and said that her freshmen were having trouble reading. She gave them a literacy test, and most of them scored 3, 4, or 5 out of 40!! What really made me want to scream was the fact that the director simply scolded the elementary teachers for not doing their job, and then moved on to the next topic of conversation. These people don´t need to be scolded, they need to be fired!!

Then, to make matters only worse, the Ministry of Education of the department of Boaco told my director that there are not enough students in the classrooms at the base school just down the road from me. Each grade has about 23-26 students in it, and in order to be able to afford the teachers´ salary, there has to be around 40-50 students per teacher. So just last week, they fired one of the teachers and put 3rd and 4th grade together in one classroom. That poor teacher now has around 50 students in two different grades! I´m SURE literacy rates will just boom after that move.

So as you can see, there´s not a whole lot I can do for the real problems in my town. I can help the teachers make some of their lessons a little more dynamic and fun for the kids, but if they really want thier kids to learn they need to majorly reconstruct the entire education system of this country. And stop laundering money. That would probably help, too.

To end on a happier note, I went to visit a family who used to live in my neighborhood. They now live about 15 minutes walking distance outside of town, and invited me to see their new-born calf. They taught me that in order to milk the cow, you have to trick her into thinking that you´re the calf, so they tie the poor little thing to her leg while the milk her. A part of me really doubts that the cow is that dumb, but who am I to judge? This is a picture of Nevardo, one of the sons, milking the cown while the very unhappy calf looks on:

One more happy note is that one of my neighbors, Yasser, turned 1 last week! He has a special place in my heart since he´s actually newer to my town than I am!! So I bought him a birthday outfit and we had a photo session. My favorite photo was this one:

Well, that´s all I have for now! I´m really hoping to update this site more often, but work has kept me all-too busy! Have a great week everyone!