As we approach the mid-way point in our journey in Parcila and Nicaragua, it’s pretty clear time has flown far too quickly. When I first arrived in Parcila, the shock of where I was going to live for three months, the repetitive meals and the weather made me think that life would probably slow down to the point where each day would feel like an eon. However, this view could not have been further from the truth.

I live in what I consider to be a palace in Parcila, mainly due to the river that is my back-garden, the huge tree that provides the shade of the entire house in front, and the bull cart just outside the house, which adds a unique and rather nostalgic beauty to this humble abode. The weather is bearable as each day passes by (as long as you drink enough water and Pepsi - a drink which seems to be in abundance over here). The food, while similar, is not just necessary but is at times mouth-watering and my host mother goes out of her way to provide different dishes each day (albeit with a side of the staple rice and beans). 

I have already mentioned the warmth of the community in Parcila, however it cannot be reiterated enough about the people in La Grecia, and the Nicaraguan community in general, that their welcome, and continued appreciation of what we do here (however big or small the project) makes it all worthwhile.

Time flies over here mainly due to how active our group have been, the last two weeks being a typical example of just how busy it can get.

1) Halloween - A night some in Nicaragua are not familiar with. We hosted two events; one for children, which consisted of a ‘trick-or-treat hunt’ at the local school, and a film night for the adults where Chuckie was the main feature.

Volunteers giving an English class

2) English lessons to the local community - We have now started to provide English lessons to the wider community in La Grecia and I am happy to say that attendance has been high and enthusiastic. Nicaraguan timing is not exactly as punctual as British timing (being from Gibraltar, I sometimes struggle to be on time myself) and we therefore waited about an hour and a half before local La Grecians trickled into class. The popularity of these lessons in just two weeks has meant we are now holding two separate sessions each week, based on language ability.

3) Pasta Night & Quesadilla Night - The British-Indian contingency (of which I am a part of) held a successful curry night for the Nicaraguan volunteers, and this was repeated by the rest of the British volunteers with two more cooking nights. Cooking nights are particularly fun as the Nicaraguan volunteers watch in anticipation and on occasion laugh (mainly due to using the most rural of utensils to cook) at what we are making and whether or not it will suffice… I think it has.

Volunteers at the curry night

4) Eco-stove construction - Eco-stove construction continues at a slow yet steady pace, with 14 out of 17 eco-stoves constructed. The delayed arrival of materials can sometimes get frustrating, but the community here seem patient and understanding of what we are trying to achieve.

5) Eco-oven training - All volunteers have now been trained on how to construct and maintain eco-ovens. They seem harder, yet slightly more fun to construct based on previous cycles’ opinions and if the materials arrive when required (a running joke here is that we will get the materials when we least expect it - 3:30am, half an hour before the roosters’ wake everybody else up) it will be a great start to the second part of this cycle.

6) ASOMUPRO awareness/dance competition - A Nicaraguan style Strictly Come Dancing competition was held in La Grecia, with the main aim to raise awareness for ASOMUPRO, its aims, objectives and what the community and ASOMUPRO can do to help. The event was a success in terms of attendance, however participation in the competition was slightly low, and something we did not anticipate is that whilst Nicaraguans like to dance, an audience is ‘slightly’ off-putting.

7) Girls Football Club - The final event was a girls’ football club, which has successfully kicked off (excuse the pun) in the last two weeks. Attendance is still small with 10 girls currently enrolled, but this is just the start and this is a great way of combatting certain gender stereotypes in this community.

8) Piñata making class - Piñatas seem to be an old tradition of Nicaragua, and Central America as a whole, and the Nicaraguan contingency of our group showed off their piñata making skills by providing a learning session. It’s safe to say, the Brits have a lot left to learn here if they ever wish to master the ‘Baile de la piñata’.

To conclude this week, rather selfishly I wish time would slow down just ever so slightly. It’s hard work but a lot of fun. I don’t know or think my opinion will change in the next six weeks, but I’ll keep you updated on that.

Ciao for now!

Written by ICS volunteer Pradeep (Pepe) Karnani