Another busy, entertaining and informative week in Masaya has come to an end, with time seemingly accelerating by the day. The pace is unrelenting (in a good way): we’ve visited the school in El Pochote for the first time, painted all of the vinyls which will be used to cover the eco-latrines, planned plenty of activities and workshops to hold in the community, and have even had the chance to learn some more about Masayan culture.

Having split into two groups, Group One spent Monday in the school of El Pochote, where we will be taking English classes four times a week. We were introduced to each of the four classrooms one at a time – a routine which involved walking into a room full of children, saying our names and where we come from, and then explaining what we would be doing over the next few weeks. Hopefully we added some excitement to their first day back at school after the holidays! After this, we had the chance to talk about the other projects we would like to work on at the school. These include building a playground, holding weekly recycling workshops to reinforce the work of Cycle 8, in which a recycling station was constructed, and making tables and chairs for the communal dining area. 

Come Wednesday, it was time for ‘Grupo Uno’, as we have come to be known, to return to our vinyl plantation in El Pochote, where we would begin to paint all of the vinyls that we had assorted so efficiently a couple of weeks earlier (last week was spent undertaking surveys in El Jocote, which is the neighbouring community to El Pochote – more on that in last week’s blog from Danny). In case you’re wondering at this point what I mean by “vinyls”, they are pieces of plastic sheeting on which adverts are printed; we are not going to be covering eco-latrines with old records. The job, as always, was taken on in good spirit, with everyone helping to lay out and paint each vinyl, as well as contributing to the selection of background music – a vital task in itself. Now that all the other materials have been delivered, we are all set to begin the much anticipated covering of the eco-latrines. 

After work on Thursday, part of which involved a particularly amusing and enlightening learning session in which we taught ‘common’ British slang to the Nicaraguan volunteers, the opportunity for a visit to the “Museo del Folklore” presented itself. Here we were able to discover some more of Masaya’s many cultural traditions, one of which is Agüizotes – a festival at the end of October during which the people wear masks based on local legends and process through the streets during the night. In the true fashion of stereotypical Brits abroad, we were also grateful for the efficiency of the air conditioning system. 

We all continue to enjoy life in Masaya, and our initial paranoid tendencies toward the threat of insects are diminishing all the time. As we become even more accustomed to Nicaraguan life, and feel increasingly loyal to our new town, the one thing which I’m sure will continue to differentiate us is our religious use of sun cream. To compromise, I’d be prepared to settle for the status of adopted Nicaragüense in the meantime. 

Written by ICS volunteer Alex Johnson