Saturday, May 29, 2010

Seeds of Learning

A good sized corner block of space in Ciudad Dario hosts the SOL resource center, a comfortable space for students to receive tutoring, lessons in extracurricular activities from music to sewing, and explore a variety of books and games to keep busy during before and after school hours.
My first dance lesson seems to keep me at least one or two steps behind the other students.

Some of the dancers take a moment to pose for a picture.

Our dedicated hosts Ana Mercedes, Urania, Patricio, Izayana, and the rest of the staff have done an amazing job building SOL into the thriving educational resource it is today.

In the library, the students work to understand their school lessons and complete homework.

Guadalupe and Francisco smile as they challenge their friend over a game of chess.

The playroom full of books, games, puzzles, and other activities.

Lessons in music start with beginning guitar.

A future student of the school in Agua Fria that is about to be built with the help of SOL.

Bricks made in Dario are sent to construct buildings all over the region.

Aging corners of Dario.

The guitar lessons lead to larger musical groups that begin to involve students in a wide variety of other instruments and performances.

Thanks to Patrick and family for welcoming us at SOL and sharing dinner on our last night.

Some of the kids that will benefit from the new school in Agua Fria. Construction materials wait behind us to become part of the two room buidling for approximately 60 students.

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Leon and the Volcanos of Nicaragua

We arrived in Leon just before dark and everyone we asked for help in orienting our way through the city was ready with a smile and eagerness to help. Though we got a little lost in translations due to our very bad Spanish language skills we found our way to the large and hip Lazy Bones hostel where we found comfortable accommodations and a hearty dinner just across the street. There is nothing like an ice cold agua gaseosa [that means soda water for the non-Spanish speaker].

Though a nice place to stay the loud noise and party like atmosphere pushed us to another hostel called Tortuga Booluda [the lazy turtle]...lots of laziness in the hosteling world out here i suppose. A more comfortable fit for the way we travel we settled in and were pleased to meet our hosts, the other travelers staying there, and find that they keep a guitar on hand as well!
The same day we wandered the city and admired massive catedrals whose peeling exteriors and blackening areas of wear and tear suggest a forgotten ancient ruin, but the comings and goings of the many parishoners and guests tell a very different story. Artisans and vendors in the square outside peddle their wares and every now and again you will hear a bell chime announcing the hour. Leon is a beautiful city filled with kind people ready to try to converse with two girls from the states with limited Spanish. I feel safe happy and very very hot.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Monteverde, CR to Leon, Nica

Ok so a little on where we've been and how we got there . . .

Early morning as in 5am arrival in San Jose was an easy introduction into a sleepy city before the hustle and bustle of the day got underway. We went straight to the bus station to purchase our tickets for the 2:30pm bus to Monteverde and then with plenty of time to kill went wandering the city stumbling onto the auto-free boulevard where the city dwellers could walk and sit and find reprieve from the surprisingly courteous morning traffic.

The general heresay doesn't seem to be drawn to the the big cities, but they're such great places to people watch, find all those things that you may have forgotten, and discover snippets of culture you can't find anywhere else.

By the time we boarded our crowded bus it was down to standing room only for some on the 5hr ride to the mile high mountain village which included long stretches of winding dirt roads. Lucky for us and the friends we made at theh bus stop we all had seats.
My confession: (which though i've spoken to my parents pretty regularly i still have not mentioned to them) by the time we arrived I was nauseous and shocked to see that my usually weak stomached travel companion was as strong as an ox. In the last 100yds to our friend Ginna's mountain palace I wretched something awful in the roadside drain ditch and felt world's better for the next 20 minutes before needing to pass out and spend the entire following day tied to the bed. Welcome to Costa Rica!

Needless to say, I survived, and enjoyed getting lost in overgrown trails just outside the reserve, contemplated silence and the intuitions of fellow mountain dwellers at my brief but enjoyable attendence at the local quaker meeting, and sipped fresh mango juice overlooking the Nicoya Penninsula from the mile high views that stretch to infinity and beyond.

Today I spent shaped like a chair riding 3 different buses and arriving in Leon, Nicaragua. There is so much more to say, but it will have to wait till next time.

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Leaving for Central America this evening. Adventure awaits!