It’s our first day on the ground … let’s see how it goes!

Yesterday we arrived and most of us did not get our luggage until this morning, and some did not even get it till we got back from our travels today.  At the beginning of the day we had breakfast with our host families.  We then went to Casa Blanca where we met everyone in our group, as well as 2 other groups* that are also working with Gonzalo this week.  We stayed at the Casa Blanca till noon, and while we were there we talked about etiquette and proper manners at our host families.  We also had an orientation on what we are going to be doing in Managua and some things that are important to remember**.  Then we went for lunch at DeColores, which was good.  Some of us tried ripe fried plantain and fried banana which most of us thought was gross.  After lunch we went on a tour of what used to be downtown Managua***.  We went to a park where we saw the cathedral that was around during the revolution.  We also listened to a man talk about how he had went from having a farm, but after the earthquake had to move to Managua to sell water bags every day to make a living.  He does this all day everyday and only makes on average 40 Cordobas or $2US.  We then went to a hill in Managua where we got to see the ruin of the mansion that the old government**** used to live in.  They also had torture chambers underneath the mansion.  In some cases what they would do to torture someone is put salt water in their mouths while holding them down until they throw up and drown on their own vomit.  After this we went back to Casa Blanca and the remaining people got their luggage.  We got to learn Spanish from 4-530, some of us are very good, but some still need lots and lots of practice.  Tonight we all went back to our host families for dinner.  At 730, two of the other house moms brought their guest***** over and we learned how to dance as they do in Managua.  We learned to move our hips with Salsa and Meringue.  We also got to do some partner moves and spins.  We danced for 2 hours before we had to tell them we were too tired to continue.
-Blogged by Sydney-

* There is one group from Kemptville with 7 people and one lady who is here on her own from Ottawa.
**Lots of safety information!
*** There is a earthquake in Nicaragua almost every 40 years which flattens the city and makes any tall buildings that remain are deemed unstable and abandoned
****Until July 19th 1979 Nicaragua was a dictatorship run with an iron fist of oppression by the Samosa family.  This mansion on the hill was their family home
*****Julia D, Julia S, Jamie, Olivia, Elizabeth, Sarah, John, Graham, Mariah, Saskia, Samantha and Sydney were there

Today, so much stuff went down.  I´m mostly gonna talk about specifics.  First, during the lunch, which was great, there was this kid who thought I was Justin Bieber!  It was awkward yet funny.  John wanted to buy sunglasses so we told him to wait for street vendors.  As soon as we stopped, everyone got their money out and bought some designer sun glasses… or so we thought.  The OAKLEY´s were now called OKEY´s and the Ray Bans are called BayRans!  Super funny except John somehow got real Ray Bans!  Lucky guy!  I’m kinda being used as a general translator for the group.  Got many questions daily and I love teaching Spanish to people.  At the top of the mountain where the Samosa´s were living before, there was an excellent view.  The volcanoes are ridiculous and it is honestly a very nice place.  Ian bought this really funny Nicaragua Sombrero which he wears proudly.  The group is really nice to each other and my goal is to try to get to know something new about each person.  OH!  We got our luggage finally!  So nice to finally change into some fresh clothing like OMG.  The place we are staying at has a store as part of it.  So we bought a 2.5 liter bottle of pop!  Going to the supposed ¨downtown¨ area was neat.  We met a man named Pedro who, due to the earthquake, had lost everything and had to resort to selling water for food money.  The group was VERY generous toward him and you could see him tearing up with joy because of the generosity.  It was a very powerful moment, to me anyways.  There was also a man named Marcos who would follow us making these cool figures out of palm tree leaves.  At first he seemed nervous.  I spoke to him nicely and he said ¨gift¨ and handed me the coolest grasshopper made of palm tree leaves.  Steven and I got it down pretty good.  I was really hot today and the bad thing is the humidity.  It makes you really moist and prone to sweat.  Since I don’t burn easily, it wasn’t a big deal, but others began to look a little like large tomatoes!  The thing that struck me the most was the hospitality of our families.  The washed the clothing we had left behind and hung it up without us asking.  They are very generous, nice and family people. We are definitely very thankful for Rosa, Doña Alba and Don Julio Cesar.  They have a lot less than us, yet are so happy with life.  Honestly, I would not be mad about living in their conditions.  It is really peaceful at night and you are outside most of the time.  It´s honestly so relaxing and I really needed this experience.  We are climbing the volcano tomorrow morning, so bed time is soon.  We are currently sitting outside pumping ink in our books while Lucas is juggling over our laundry!  Oh … and the pigs hugged emotionally.