Posted by: paprikitaa | November 9, 2010

Almost Like a Dream

Well, my two years and three months has officially come to an end. Wow, how quickly things pass by and change. I feel so many changes in myself and people around me and the world in general and I keep forgetting that two years IS a long time! I am back in Knoxville with the family and it is wonderful, minus of course the freezing weather that my poor body is not at all used to. Hopefully that wont take TOO long to get used to!

I was able to finish up with all of my stoves in my Improved Stove Project and got to build three ovens in my communities as well! I hope that all that was done will be left behind as a teaching tool for other community members to build upon. I already have seen some of this develop as a few ladies in the Stove Project have reached out to other community members to build them improved stoves as well.

I ended up deciding to redo my world map in my last couple of weeks… not a wise idea. The varnish and rain and cement had just not done well and alot of the paint was not only peeling off but was also being ‘eaten away’ (hard to explain). I got some professional painters to give me advice and I began again. Sadly I wasn’t able to completely finish it. But the important stuff, countries and water are all painted there. My neighboring Peace Corps friend is going to come in late Novemeber to do all the rest of the details for me! You gotta love Peace Corps comraderie!

I loved my two years in Nicaragua, it was an amazing experience and I think everyone should be able to experience something along those lines. It is for all ages too. I not only feel like I have developed as a person but I feel like I was able to build some lasting bridges between people I came in contact with. I fell in love with the people there and I only hope that I can continue visititing them!

Thank you everyone for the support you have given me while I was away, it was a difficult experience as well, but one I would never change for anything! Thank you all and I hope to be able to run into each and everyone of you quite soon!

Posted by: paprikitaa | August 29, 2010

2 months……….

The closer November comes, the faster the time seems to be attacking me! I have decided to move back in with my host family, Marlon and Chepa, for the last bit of time that I have left. I want to get in as many good convos with them as I can before I leave. Yesterday we decided to clean out the spare room so I can move all my stuff back in… well apparently I wasn´t the only one that had been thinking of moving it… we came across a nicely settled family of mice! It was hilarious, I watched as two grown men, an 8, 5, and 3 yr old all ran around the room smashing the mice with metal rods, not to mention the occasionally squooshed under the foot mouse.. and then we found the 5 babies.. yup… the got squooshed too… yes it was definetly as entertaining as the the day we killed the chicken, maybe even more so!

I am trying to finish with building all of my stoves, I have taken all the extra materials to the neighboring community were I am doin a mini project,similar to what I did in La fuente. Its going good, except for that will all the rain I arrive covered in mud and a 30 min journey takes me an hour… well.. i am definitely going to be in tip top shape when i arrive back in the states!

I am trying to coordinate a Billard tournament in my town with a focus on AIDS awareness. If I can hurry and get things together that should be going down with in a couple weeks. The main prize will be a fan.. which EVERYONE wants!

Just wanted to drop a quick update.. hope you all are dryer and less muddy than I am!

Posted by: paprikitaa | August 11, 2010

Three Months to Go

This week we have our close of service conference! That is crazy. Means we have been in country exactly 2 years, 3 months left to go and we are off to a new place, new experience. My stove project is wrapping up. I have about 4 stoves left in my group to finish. They have been held back due to crazy rains and other events such as me being attacked by dogs… yes that is right I had a most lovely encounter with two dogs that decided I looked more like an angry steak than a girl on a bicycle. It was probably the most traumatizing experience I have had yet. You know when they say your life flashes before your eyes in moments of near death… well I beg to differ, It doesn’t have to be a near death experience at all. My life definitely flashed, and I realized it was short. Well luckily people came running before the dogs moved from tearing into my legs to attack the rest of my body, which I was definitely sure they were going to do. I had already begun imagining what it was going to feel like when they got to my face. Yeah, it was horrible. Somehow in my shocked state I rode to my host families house, against the opinion of the concerned neighbors that wanted to bring me into their home to dump diesel on my legs… oh dear. Well by the time I got to Chepa’s house, only 30 seconds away, I was hyperventilating and crying hysterically. They were able to calm me down and to shorten the rest of the trauma I got rabie shots and pills and cream in Managua. My legs are nearly alright… I am going to have some sweet scars though. Yeah fun.

I have finally been able to start my little english class again. I changed the location so as to have less kids and only the dedicated kids to come. They are sooo cute! I am giving out a prize now each class in order to motivate them to do the homework and study more. It’s working. The last gift was a Mcdonalds toy… a little puppy. They loved it. haha!

I am going to have some materials left over from our stove project when we are all finished. So those are going to be used to build an Improved Oven for one of the teachers that i worked with alot last year and then build some more improved stoves in the neighboring community through the evangelical church. They have a really nice organized group together which will make things alot easier!

Katie and Joy just came and left. We had a lovely visit. They got to meet my host family and see my town as well as experience a good deal of Nicaragua including the Patron Saint Fiestas in Managua. That was a crazy experience. We saw the horse parade… where poor Joy was nearly robbed, but thanks to her sharp elbows her attackers gave up! We also went to a bull riding show… we saw a boy get gouged in the stomach.. ouch, luckily it wasn’t too deep and he was up and walking 15 minutes later. They got to experience some typical Nica dancing as well, that was fun! I am going to miss being able to have friends come down and see where I am living and experience Nicaragua. I love being able to show people around. Only my mom and sister to come visit one last time, soooo if anyone wants to come for a visit… there are still three months of chances left!

Closing note of the day: How to Prepare a Chicken for Lunch
1. Run screeching around the house in search of the perfect chicken
2. Begin howling for dog to come
3. Yell at dog for chasing the wrong chicken
4. Yell at daughters to get off the hammock and help find the missing chicken.
5. Become obsessed with finding the white chicken instead of the many others that are bumbling about
6. Locate chicken under bike
7. Corner from each side and then screech at dog to attack (sounds something like oooooochoooooochooooooch)
8. Scare chicken out from under bike
9. Watch dog chase chicken
10. Screech at daughters to get chicken away from dog
11. Grasp chicken and dog and wait for daughters to come help
12. Realize chicken is already dead
13. Triumphantly remove chicken that will soon be lunch from dog’s jaws (he is trained apparently to rip throat out… problem is if you dont get to him in time… welll … the rest of the chicken is history as well.)
14. plunge full body into boiling water to loosen feathers.
15. tear feathers in a forceful manner from chicken body
16. chop off legs and head
17. fling creepy innards to dog and cat
18. rip chicken apart and fry’r up!
19. eat EVERYTHING, cartiladge included….

Yes… that really happened… I had no idea they trained their dog to do that… I thought he was just getting in the way, little did I know they always have him kill their lunch that way. I felt very different about eating the chicken that day….

Have a wonderful week and eat lots of chicken.. haha

Posted by: paprikitaa | July 9, 2010

Happy Fourth of July!!!!

I hope your alls 4th was as fun as mine. This year we decided to try to do a US 4th of July in Nicaragua. It was sooo much fun! My neighbors had a great time watching us as well. I had some volunteer friends over and we facepainted, played games like 3-legged race, watermelon spitting contest, sack races, egg toss, and water balloon dodge ball. It was a blast. We were able to BBQ and make tasty treats we don’t normally get to enjoy here. My host family was quite enamored with the food and kept coming back for seconds! They were especially excited by the rice crispy treats we made! We topped it all off with some fireworks in the evening. We found out one of our friends in Leon lives right in front of a fireworks maker person! Haha.. so ironic… so that worked out nice for us. They were awesome, shot up high and were an assortment of colors… the only problem was you had to actually throw them… that is when the rubber gloves come in handy! The poor parrots freaked out and started yelling ‘You are scaring us’ over and over… quite smart those little fellows. (all in spanish of course)

Our Improved Stove Project is coming to a close. We are finishing up the last stoves this month. The rain has gotten crazy so its been a bit difficult to schedule the rest of the stoves but slowly and surely we are getting them done! I am starting to go around to visit all of the ladies and survey them on their opinions of the stoves and how they were. We are troubleshooting different problems that have arisen with certain stoves, but for the most part I have had really good feedback!

We only have about four months left in service. The group that came in right before us just left this past week. That was really sad. I will miss alot of them. We got to know alot of those volunteers really well and now we are the next volunteers to go. Oh how time just keeps on rolling.

I think all of the rain has made all of the animals very very fertile, haha. There are little baby animals everywhere! My family cat just had kittens… so teenie, their eyes aren’t all the way open yet! There are a couple puppies at my neighbors house that always come to visit me and fall asleep all over the place. They know I won’t hit them… sad but true. I think they have worms though….(disclaimer: don’t read ahead if you get nauseous easily…) One of the puppies had a long white thing hanging under its tail and so i pulled on it… it was a HUGE worm… same length of the puppy. Ew, poor thing. Don’t worry: I wash my hands ALLLL the time. I also got to hold what I think was a baby raccoon.. you can see it in the photo. It was sooo cute.. Sharp little claws and snaps if you hold it in a way it doesn’t like, but pretty adorable. It was crawling all over my shoulders!

I was part of the tech training for the most recent agriculture group that came in. It was alot of fun. We taught them how to build improved ovens, improved stoves, biodigestors, rain water catch systems, and drip irrigation systems. This new group was all excited to learn and learn they did! They will be taking our place as we head out in November. No one will actually replace our specific sites however until the next group comes in… which will be in the following July.

I got to celebrate my host sisters 21st bday last nite! It was a lot of fun. Very casual family dinner of friend chicken and gallo pinto of course! It was nice to be in a very family setting all eating together. We spent forever discussing the differences between the US and Nicaragua afterwards. It is amazing to see what people do and do not know about the US sometimes.

Keep in Touch and I will too!!!!

Posted by: paprikitaa | May 26, 2010

Stoves Stoves Stoves!

The time has come for my next update! Rainy season once again has begun. I am very very thankful for that. Although the power now frequently goes out and there are HUGE puddles I am known to nearly daily fall in, it is still so much cooler, much better indeed. For all of you who visited me in the hot season.. well, you are missing out not being here now! Today we completed two more stoves. That leaves me with about 18 more to go…. doesn’t include the 20 ladies who didn’t come to the workshop, therefore losing their chance to be in the project. Hopefully I can work something out and do another workshop to give them just one more chance…. It is hard working down here. People are so set in their ways because it has been done the same for generations and they do not want to change. Until they see what you want to do and see that it is working, many times any attempts to convince someone by just talking are fruitless. I am banking on them seeing the outcome and wanting to have that as well. I have already had several of those women ask if there is still a chance for them to do it after all. I guess in reality it will just depend on if I am feeling gracious. It is hard to muster the desire at times after trying to convince people over and over again, but in the end when they finally accept the idea, it makes all the work worth it.

It was awesome having my dad come down and work with me. He brought a TON of amazing tools I am still using daily and have come in quite handy in many things! We were able to build about 8 stoves and also presented all of the donated dictionaries in the high school to the English classes. Thank you all for those who either donated dictionaries or donated funds to help with that project. We had a fun time with the kids!

Me and a group of my friends, other volunteers, just recently got back from a couple days vacation we took to canoe down the Rio San Juan. It is the southern most that you can go in Nicaragua. So southern that while we canoed if we touched the other side of the river we were in Costa Rica. It was awesome. We saw all sorts of animals, including crocs! We swam in that same water, luckily none of us lost arms or legs! We stayed each night at an army base then woke up early to canoe again. Our finally destination was the Atlantic Coast where we spent two days relaxing and getting rid of our sunburns! It was quite them memorable trip indeed!

Lately I have been doing a bit of work with a new NGO (EOS International) that has come to Nicaragua. It was started by a Peace Corp friend in my group, Wes Meier, and some other friends of his in the states. They are working with appropriate technologies here in Nicaragua, such as improved stoves (like I am building), improved ovens, biodigestors, and drip-tape watering systems. If you’re interested in reading more about what they are doing here in Nicaragua their website is: http://www.eosintl.org

I hope you are all doing wonderful and enjoying life! Come visit, there is still time!

Posted by: paprikitaa | April 24, 2010

To rain or not to rain…..

The weather here is crazy. It is still supposedly the hottest part of the summer.. yet we have had some crazy random downpours… I believe this year is goin to be very rainy indeed. I can’t wait. Things have been crazy busy lately. I want to thank EVERYONE for their help with my project. All the money came through, the materials have been bought and the workshops have been given. Now we are beginning with the individual constructions.  I will be giving a more detailed post later about the work and how its going but I just wanted to give this quick update with some photos! Thanks again to you all!!!

Posted by: paprikitaa | March 24, 2010

It´s that time again!

Where to start…. there have been many eventful moments recently and many not so eventful but very memorable. I guess to begin let me mention that last week it was 115 degrees… yes thats right 115, and the frightening thing is we haven’t even gotten to the hottest part of the summer. (a candle in my room melted over in half just from the heat!) This year is WAY hotter than last year, due to the drought this past rainy season. For the sake of the people I do hope there are torrential downpours this year because otherwise next summer’s heat might just cause spontaneous combustion of all living organisms. It is just so ridiculously hot down here though!

A very sad note that has been attributed to the increasing heat are the increasing deaths. There are a lot of people, both the elderly and the young and healthy that have been dying in the past couple weeks. There have been three funerals just in the past two weeks here in La Fuente. That doesn’t include surrounding communities where other tragedies have happened. My host grandma lost a son, only 42 years old and in perfect health, to a heart attack. I have been spending a lot of time with her lately just sitting and letting her tell stories about her son. I can’t imagine what that feels like.

With the heat also comes hot wind, and the hot wind is bringing more and more dust. Almost everyone around me, including myself, has some time of upper respiratory infection: runny nose, cough, congestion… definitely from breathing in all the nasty dust. You can’t escape the dust it is EVERYWHERE. When I leave for a couple of days I always return to a nice coating of dust on all of my things. It always take me a couple hours to clean and sweep it all up… which is kind of fruitless since the next strong wind will just bring it back in. I am starting to get an idea of what it must have been like to live in the dust bowl…. seriously its everywhere.

Not only does my house get bathed in dust, but there are lots of little creatures that like to come on in with the dust. After being gone for a long weekend I returned to discover several creatures that had decided my house was now theirs… not ok. I found and immediately killed a couple baby scorpions, which by the way sting way worse than big ones because they can’t regulate their venom, I also discovered two ENORMOUS centipedes. These weren’t normal either, they were terrifying and huge with pinchers. I dashed them to pieces with my machete, but not before my poor kitty became prey to one that clung to his face by an evil little claw. I am sure that stung quite a bit! The worst of all however was the tarantula leg I found sitting on my table. I believe it was the same feeling as when one finds half of a worm in an apple, the leg of a tarantula means one of two things. The rest was eaten and only the leg was left, or the leg was left in the process of escaping from being eaten. I wanted to believe the latter……several hours after this discovery I somehow looked up above my kitchen door while leaving and low and behold.. the grand tarantula just hanging out in the corner. I don’t care if their mouths are supposedly too small to bite us or whatever, it was freaky and enormously frightening. I don’t mind spiders that much, but it was a MONSTER. I screamed and ran out of the kitchen and pondered what to do. What then commenced was a battle between me with a broom and a huge spider with creepy legs that didn’t want to die. I will not go into details, I will just say it was horrible. But at the end of the night I was still standing and he was in about 10 pieces. I wanted to make sure he didn’t come back.

I have so many encounters with creepy creatures. I have now recieved my second official scorpion sting though! I should get a badge. We were building an improved oven in the community next to mine and I grabbed a brick to put it in place. I thought I had got a piece of metal shoved through my palm, nope, just a baby scorpion. Yes, they do sting hard. Not fun… only numbness after that. Despite the scorpion sting the oven building went really well. They are ovens made from similar materials to the stoves with a barrel to cook the food in! They work really well. I just gave a presentation in another community on how to build them to a group of ladies who are trying to get organized to build one together. With an oven like that they can start up little cooking businesses!

All the donations have come in for the stove project! I can’t wait to start! I am waiting for Peace Corp Washington to send me the check so we can go get the materials and start pumpin out those stoves! The ladies are getting excited as well. We have started working on the tree nursery too. We are in the process of collecting seeds. We have a good plot where NO pigs can eat the trees. Pigs are so so so annoying and eat EVERYTHING. Here’s a genius idea: put them in a pig pen. I want to thank everyone SOOO much that has helped me make this project possible! The ladies and I are very very grateful indeed! Continual updates and photos of the process will follow!

Easter is almost here! I hope everyone enjoys the holidays and spends good quality time with the family. I will be thinking of you all!

Posted by: paprikitaa | March 15, 2010

Increasing Heat

Well we are once again entering in to the most hottest part of the year here. March and April: they can be quite difficult months. So dry and hot. Lately we have had a strange series of overcast days with sprinkles, but that doesn’t cool anything down, it only brings on the humidity. I thought I was used to humidity, apparently not! My daily best friend is a fan!

Despite the heat though things are still just chuggin along amazingly enough. I taught a couple ladies in my site how to make jam the other day. It was just delicious. We made it from bananas. They were completely amazed and the kids just gobbled it up… plain or on bread, haha. We are planning on making it out of papaya next. They have a little store so the plan is for them to introduce it to the neighbors and customers and hopefully be able to add that in to what they sell!

Our stove project is coming along: ONLY $62 lacking! Which is very exciting. Once this comes in I will be off with some of the ladies to buy all the stuff. They are getting more and more excited when I tell them we are almost ready to start! Hopefully it will come in this week so we won’t be delayed by Semana Santa. I love Semana Santa.. it is fun, but EVERYTHING shuts down – bus schedules change, people are MIA for a week, and pretty much nothing can be accomplished.. so yes.. I am trying to race against time, haha.

It is Mango season again. In this country, you not only eat mangos when they are ripe, but also when they are green. I thought that was creepy at first to eat unripe fruit.. but it is OH so tasty with salt and vinegar and chile.. yum yum… strange but good!

Have a wonderful week to you all.. more updates to come soon. AND thanks to everyone who has helped out thus far with the stoves.. it is very very much appreciated and updates on the work progress and when I am able to begin will hopefully be frequent!

Posted by: paprikitaa | February 28, 2010

GOOD NEWS

Good news! My Peace Corps Partnership has been accepted and is now available online to read and support if you would like! My group of 61 women has come together to make this project happen! Now we just have to wait until all of the support arrives and we will be able to buy all of the materials to begin training the women how to construct the stoves and can begin the constructions! My dad is going to try to come down to help start everything up once the
materials are bought. It will be a long process since there are so many stoves!
To get to the website go to http://www.peacecorps.gov then click on DONATE then type in my last name MILLer in the box that pops up and my petition, improved cooking stoves, should be there, click that and you can read about it!
The total project price is $1667.52, the price of each individual stove is $27.34, and the requested amount is $667.24
Here is the website as well in case that is easier!
Improved Stoves

If you have any questions let me know! As soon as I have all the support we can get the project underway! I have attached some photos as well to look at of the old stoves that are presently in site in comparison to an improved stove!
Thank you so much forany support!
Have a wonderful week!

Posted by: paprikitaa | February 2, 2010

Fotos!!!!!

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