Thursday, July 31, 2014

Artistas Unidas de Limay

      Instead of doing a workshop with youth I opted to work with a group of five women who are all local artisans while I was in San Juan de Limay. Teodora Quintero, Isabel Lopez, and Dominga Oido, are ceramists from a nearby rural community called Calero; while Norgelis Tercero Alfaro and Isabel Alfaro, work with Marmolina and live in the town of Limay. Together we worked to organize a collective, called Artistas Unidas de Limay.  It has been a lot of work but I feel good about the work we have all collectively done, particularly with the language barrier. I sure tried to communicate; however languages were never my strong suite. Together, we worked on numerous projects such a brochure and a Facebook page. Collectively we produced numerous important documents such as a list of rules/by laws for the collective, the responsibilities of each member, and financial documents showing costs of materials per year and projected sales goals. Things pertaining to money where particularly challenging to figure out, as the women have never calculated the expenses of materials or how much they make in a year. This is further amplified, as there are no banks in Limay so keeping track of money and expenses is something that these women are not use to even in daily life.  Perhaps, one of the biggest discussions that was made was that 10% from every sale will go into a collective fund, this will allow the women to buy supplies in the future, this will allow them to save and have money to plan ahead for large purchases.  
At the Fiesta on 7/27/2014

I said my good byes to the women on Sunday after our fiesta celebrating the completion of the mural and all workshops. It was bitter sweet; I plan to keep in touch with the younger women who are technologically savvy. However, I realized some of the older members I may never see again. I appreciate the time they spent with me and hope they are successful as selling jewelry and decorative items is challenging in a country with a stagnant economy. My hope is that they get their items to places tourists visit so they can sell their wares for a price that will pay them a deserving wage. 
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Wednesday, July 30, 2014

A Note to Alice

Dear Grammy,

You seem to continue popping up during my time here in Nicaragua and I am happy to feel you in my heart, but also saddened that I can't write you a real post card and send it off knowing that you will receive it with the grin that I will never stop missing. My time here was made possible because of you and the spirit of education and adventure you passed along during your time on earth. I can't help but think of the story one woman told us at your memorial service when I get frustrated with the language barrier I keep facing, "The first night I was scared to go out and Alice said that was why we had to go out, was because we didn't know the language and that was the only way we would learn anything or have any fun". Every time I am tempted to hide I think to myself, it can only get better if I go out there and face it myself, even if I do embarrass myself more often than not.

During my time in Limay I thought of you most. It was a time of many highs and many lows, but also a place where death was a very different entity than in the U.S. I had many firsts there surrounding the idea of death and you were right by my side every time I confronted it, and I thank you for that. The anniversary of the revolution was held on the 19th of July and during that same night of wild celebration in the city of Managua there was a tragic loss for those in Limay. I can remember the moment it happened, I was playing cards with my host-sister (Idalia) and my two trip leaders Aleks and Maria when Idalia's daughter came running in with news of an attack. There was a group of people that decided they were going to take over the buses returning from the celebration and murder a large group of people who had attended the celebration. The bus they chose to attack was one from Limay and two women were murdered by gunfire. Luckily the bus driver, who had also received bullet wounds, continued driving the bus to safety keeping the rest of the bus out of harms way. Sadly, Limay lost two women they loved dearly that night, one of whom was a cousin of the family I was with. The entire town was in shock, but they all remained calm and strong for one another. During this time of sorrow I had the chance to see an entire town come together and support the families in their most difficult hours. A day later there were nighttime vigils at both the women's family homes along with two open caskets. Outside were hundreds of chairs for people to sit and talk, mourning however they chose to do so. The next morning there was a funeral procession around town to the graveyard, right down the road from my house. Once again hundreds of people flooded the street, following three large trucks, two carrying the caskets and family members along with one playing music for the procession. 

Your funeral was the first I have had the chance to attend and this was my second. They were very much opposite experiences for me, but the one similarity I kept finding was the amount of love I saw congregated in one place. I sometimes wonder if you ever realized how many lives you were able to touch during the 84 years you were alive, because once you were gone not only was your service flooded with people, but so was our mailbox, containing letters of condolences and remorse for not having the opportunity to be there.    

Anyway, I am babbling. I love you and miss you and I really hope one day I can create a life half as fulfilling as your own.

Your loving granddaughter,


In Limbo

We are halfway through our fourth week here in Nicaragua and it has been two days since we have returned to Esteli from our two week stay in Limay. Although I am accompanied by the family I have formed during these four weeks I can't help but feel sad, missing the family that I just started to develop.

Even though I gained many amenities during my return to Esteli, I feel as though the energy has changed. I can no longer go to the bathroom knowing someone or something will pass through the shower curtain, that is the door, at any minute. I wonder why I have as much privacy as I do and question whether I prefer it to the chaos of an outdoor bathroom with roaming chickens and dogs, along with a host-mother busting her way in with toilet paper she realizes you might need. I have grown so accustomed to sharing such simple means of living it feels almost alien to have a minute alone in silence.

My homes in the United States are full of times where solitude is within reach at any point of any given day, but, as nice as it is to have a moment to focus, I can't imagine what it will be like to have so much space to myself again. Life is simple here and I wonder what the integration process will be like once I do return home where simplicity as a way of life isn't as revered. 

Negatives Into Positives (An update to my independent project??)

(this post was written in my journal around the middle of our stay in Limay)

   It's a little bit silly to personify Nicaragua and say that she is treating me, one of her own (how I'd like to be thought of), so harshly, but that's the only way I can have a laugh about it afterwards. There have been so many things that at first have seemed as if though Nicaragua has rejected me, but I have quickly laughed them off. It's so funny actually, and it reminds me of an episode of Modern Family in which Phil travels to Australia (he believes he has a connection to it) to discover what it meant to his mom, but he falls victim to a series of unfortunate events from food allergies to bad animal encounters. At the end, someone tells him that Australia is ok to tourists, but gives tough love to its own people.
   Of course, we have all dealt with sickness and other troubles on this trip, not just me. But, like Phil, I thought because I am of Nicaraguan descent, Nicaragua would greet me with open arms. As I write this I am chuckling remembering how I've been called "gringa" and "tu no sos una Nica verdadera" ("you're not a real Nica"), I've gotten diarrhea and constipated (as I'm sure most of us have), and I've gotten two allergic reactions to insect/mosquito bites that resulted in swollen eyes! At the time of their happening, I was a little upset. But looking back upon them now, I am looking at them with a smile and a giggle. "Of course this would happen ... alright Nicaragua, what's next?""
   Today, I cried a little during our lunch break/siesta time because I found out that my great-grandma is not doing too well. If it hasn't come across already, I like to think of myself as a pretty positive person, so when my dad and aunt said, "Mama Bertha is sick...she is very bad," (something I've heard about this strong, preservering 101-year-old woman countless times before) I thought to myself, "Oh she'll be fine in no time." However, when the adults start planning goodbye trips to Nicaragua, talking about "staying as much time as she needs," and looking at cemetery plots, then is when it got too difficult to just laugh it off.
    After thinking a bit though, I found I was able to smile. If that time does arrive for her, I'll actually be able to be by her side, seeing as though I happen to be in the country as this is happening. I like to think she's had a great run and she just wants to rest now. She is closing a great book of life and opening a new one in Heaven somewhere. It's hard to accept that this time she really won't get better again; I keep thinking, "in two weeks, she'll be better again and we'll gather up again as a family next June to celebrate her 102 years on this earth."
    This time, Nicaragua has showed me how important it is to smile, to find the happiness in dark hours, and to keep going. I saw it in Estelí when I was homesick at church and they played a song my mom used to sing to us as kids. I've seen it in the joy filled faces of kids in the street that I originally thought I should feel bad for, but, on the contrary, they were having the time of their lives playing around barefoot, racing in blissful innocence. And I saw it in the unity of the people of San Juan de Limay when two of their own were killed on the 19th. I saw it in the solidarity of the town, the care people had for the families, and in the drawings and messages that little kids wrote for the families.
   Whatever happens to my Abuelita Bertha, I know that in the end, I will smile, and maybe even have a little chuckle.
   This said, I feel that my independent project has now come to a significant halt. I am at a point where I need to decide whether to continue with my original idea or make it more relevant to how I am feeling now with my grandma's situation.
my sisters and I last year with our great-grandma

Letter to someone back home #1

Dear Trents,

   I hope you're having fun these first few days in London! We will definitely have very different stories to tell! I keep you in mind constantly, so it's like you're here on the trip with us. I've been seeing Nicaragua through the eyes of different family and friends to notice things you guys would and I wouldn't otherwise. Of course, the landscape is something you would have numerous pictures of by now. You'd probably compare the mountains to the ones in your backyard in California, or reminisce about your trip to Hawaii when we were on the winding dirt road down a mountain on our way to Limay.
   I also think you'd observe some of the manner people do things in and chuckle in disbelief the way you do. You'd definitely chuckle at the way the bus driver sped down the road on our way back to Estelí on Monday or at the horses pooping as they trot down the street. But you'd especially be shocked at the pollution, trash management, and lack of recycling ... maybe even a little disheartened. I haven't noticed as much of this in Estelí as I did in Limay, but I saw trash (wrappers, bottles, plastic bags) lying on the side of some streets, in bushes and grass, and on the side of cliffs. A trash truck passed by maybe once a week and emptied out any bags of trash houses had. However, most trash, it seemed, was burned in backyards or at the corner of the park. It's a smell I've come to associate with Nicaragua, one that I remember clearly from my first trip here as well back in 1999. You can point out a spot where trash was burned by spotting a charred black irregular form on the ground, with white-grayish remnants lying on top, and a few whisps of white smoke dying off. It seems like a quick solution (and I've heard it keeps mosquitoes away?) but I'm sure it's not safe for the environment or personal health.
    After seeing this (and plastic bottles being thrown out with trash, because recycling doesn't exist here) you would have a brainstorm session to try to figure out a better solution and save the environment. And then you and I would have a crazy long conversation, or debate, about the environment, culture, education, and poverty. It reminds me of when you visited me in Miami and I took you to a Fritanga. Ever since, you've told me that I should head a campaign to substitute the use of styrofoam plates and take-out boxes for a more environmentally friendly material. I'm sure we'll have a quite interesting talk about this when we both get back to the states!


Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Marmolina: from a Rock to a Fish

I have always liked working with my hands but never really had the chance to work in sculpture. When we arrived in Limay, I was so excited to get started working in marmolina! When Oscar asked me to think of a design, I had some trouble deciding what would be the right thing to make. After a little while of preliminary sketches, I decided that a fish would be both easy and a really good gift for my mom. Oscar found me the perfect rock and helped me figure out where to start. I went to town hacking my rock with a machete. It was therapeutic and a lot of fun. I had no idea that I was falling in love with the technique. It didn't take me long to have majority of the rock carved away and a beautiful fish forming.
I moved on from the machete and began smoothing out my fish with a different tool. This is when I really could see my design forming in front of me. With some more guidance from Oscar, I carved a fin into both sides of the fish's body and some eyes as well. I was almost finished and so was our time at Oscar's for that day. I dipped my fish into a bucket of water to get the dust off and saw what a beautiful color my rock was going to be. I placed my fish on the workshop shelf to dry overnight and left for dinner with my host family.

When I returned the next day, eager to finish, Oscar gave me a wooden base to sit my fish on. He told me that I would have to polish it when I polished my fish. I was more than ready to finish. With the help of another artist at the workshop, I began learning how to polish the marmolina stone and my new wooden base. It was a lot of work, constant scrubbing with sandpaper and lots and lots of water to keep things running smooth. But in about an hour or so, my fish and base were the smoothest thing I'd ever felt! From there I added some shoe polish to make my fish shine. I couldn't believe the transformation that happened before my eyes. I took a rock and turned it into a fish, in less than 6 hours!  Oscar and some of the other artists made comments about how quick of a learner I am and I couldn't help my thank them. It was a once in a lifetime chance to work side by side with some amazing marmolina sculptors and I'm so glad I did it!

Friday, July 25, 2014

The Sandinista presence

I always feel like a traitor to my mom whenever I cross paths with anything Sandinista or to do with Daniel Ortega. I do, however, enjoy seeking out my own opinions and truths instead of having biased opinions set upon me by my family. Nevertheless, I still get uncomfortable whenever I see a Sandinista flag or am among Sandinista supporters.
I really like my host family and haven't had any problems with them at all. But on the 19th, we were watching the celebration at La Plaza de la Revolución on tv, and one of my host sisters asked me what Nicaraguan politics my parents were affiliated with. My parents have always dissuaded me from saying anything about that and especially warned me from speaking out against Sandinistas. But I felt comfortable enough with my host family to be completely honest with them. One of the things I said was how much my mom resented and hated the FSLN and Ortega.
Right after my response they stayed somewhat quiet, so I asked them the same question. Without hesitation, they proudly announced they were "Sandinista, Sandinista!!" Instantly, I felt like a helpless Timon and Pumba in the lion's den.
That feeling didn't dwell too long and we've put politics talks past us, but now I am more cautious about sharing those types of opinions.

I also couldn't help but feel annoyed and a little angered by the constant presence of the FSLN and the media in the funerals of the deceased women. I don't know if they were supporters or not, regardless it bothered me to hear so much Sandinista talk during the announcements at their burials, seeing the FSLN banners on the bouquets on the coffins, and the media interrupting the sanctity of their funeral mass and making it into a spectacle.
This probably stems from a similar annoyance I have always felt at the pictures of my grandfather's funeral procession back in the 70s/80s. True, he was a Sandinista general but, in my opinion, families should be allowed their time to say a final goodbye to their loved ones in peace, without having to hear political propaganda or respond to reporters.

(here my grandfather's casket is in the guarded truck, my dad is on the left hand edge of the picture, with the small afro)

I used the previous two photos of my grandfather's funeral to create the drawing below

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Noche en la fritanga

My host family runs a fried taco stand (una fritanga) beside their home to supplement their family's income. Every night from 6 pm until midnight the stand is teeming with customers! They serve fried tacos, enchiladas, potatoes rellenos and fresh juice. Most nights I sit out front watching the people who pass and talking with my host family and the friends who come and sit with us. It's been a wonderful way to meet people and learn about San Juan de Limay!

Monday, July 21, 2014

I milked a cow!

5:30 am wake up call to be ready by 6, rare occasion for me! But when I was invited to go milk a cow, I couldn't pass up on the offer. Rachel, Beth and I joined two of the local Limay boys for an early morning hike to the outskirts of town.

After about a half hour and a dried up river, we could finally see the field and a few cows drinking water. We were completely surrounded by mountains, and the view was unreal! After some antics, the boys finally roped up a few cows so we could test our milking skills. I can easily say that they make it look so easy. Trying to squeeze milk from a giant cow's utter is unbelievably hard! After a few tries and some animated gestures from my helper, because words weren't an option, I finally got milk to squirt into the empty bucket! Once in a lifetime opportunity checked off my list!

It didn't take long for me to get tired from the hard labor, so I stepped aside and let the professional fill the bucket up to the top. While the boys finished getting all of the milk they needed, we watched in awe at the beauty of the whole setting. It wasn't even 7 am yet and I was blown away. Before we took the trip back to get the actual day started, we found out that some of the calfs that we're roaming around we're only a few days old and that one more cow was expecting to give birth within the week. The experience was as breath taking as the view.

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Encima del autobus

Yesterday we took the bus from Esteli to San Juan de Limay, and the bus traveled through beautiful misty mountains carrying furniture, chickens, sacks of produce, all our luggage and purified water and mural supplies for the next week, not to mention all the people! As you can imagine, the bus was full to bursting, (like the day Beth blogged about, when we had to sit on a pile of logs.) 
Rather than stand in the aisle, I had the amazing opportunity to ride on top of the bus! Leaning on a sack of onions and ducking for cover from low hanging branches whipping past, I got to fly right through the mist and wave to kids playing in the yards of houses we passed. I have never had an adventure like that, I hope it's the first of many on this trip!

Sunday, July 13, 2014

Es que la vida es más tranquila en Nicaragua

     The first time I visited Nicaragua, in 1999 when I was 7, I was in awe seeing the freedom kids had. They were running around in the streets, walking on their own, and going places without their parents! Of course, as a sheltered 7 year old I thought that was the best way a kid could grow up, and I begged my mom to let us live like that. But it takes more, I found out, than just having parents that are less strict. In the towns like Diriamba and Estelí (the ones I've spent most time in so far), most people know one another, everything is within walking distance, and there isn't too much danger (apart from younger folks stirring up small trouble maybe). Another thing is that folks take it easy. Bianca, the Spanish teacher I had, would argue that a lot of Nicaraguans are conformist and will settle for what they have instead of seeking out or demanding bigger and better things. But I think it's a wonderful thing that there is such tranquility around. The classic contrast is New Yorkers crowding the sidewalks rushing to and from work, or families that worry (or care) so much about money that they put more emphasis on  working than spending time with family or just relaxing. 
      My dad, for example, works all day and we hardly see him, but he has the goal of retiring in Nicaragua. "La vida es más tranquila en Nicaragua," (life is more calm in Nicaragua) Bianca and him agree. I like the calmer pace of life here, and I wonder if that's what is fueling my interest in recording Nicaraguan childhood stories while I'm here. I'm sure there are places or there were times just like the ones here back in the US, and I'd be interested in hearing those stories as well. But what's different in Nicaragua, I feel, is that the people don't get caught up in living a life ruled by money, and in the US, for some people, it is too easy to fall into that trap in which you work and work to afford or achieve something new but then there is always something else that comes up that you need to continue to work for, and it never ends. 

Seeing Old Friends

    I was very happy when I found out that I could use AOS as credit in my current graduate program at University of Baltimore. I am still in shock and awe that I was able to pull it off. On the first day of the trip I was able to meet the cooperative I facilitated the start up of 8 years ago with a fellow MICA Alum and a NGO called Bridges to Community. It was amazing to see the women, talk about their progress and what has been going on in our lives. Our conversation started out slow, but was fruitful in the end when Ivett, a co-op member gave me some great advice.

(AMA Co-op and AOS Group)
She thanked me for returning and let me know that it is important to continue and retain your relationships when you collaborate with communities.  I appreciated her insight and honestly. It is now significantly easier that social networks such as Facebook are readily available almost everywhere in the world. Seeing the women reminded me of how I got started on my current career path of Non-Profit Management, I will forever be indebted to the cooperative as they helped me realize the kind of life I want to lead and the type of work I want to pursue. This time around, staying in contact with people I work with will be significantly easier with increased access to technology in Nicaragua, I am grateful for that. I can’t wait for what the rest of the trip has in store for me and the rest of the group.

(Myself and Ivett Maria Mendoza with her grandson)

Corn in Nicaragua

Corn in Nicaragua 

Corn is found in abundance in the Nicaraguan diet. It is a staple food, consumed on a daily basis. Corn is used as both an ingredient that is mixed into recipes as well as eaten on its own. A main use for corn is in the making of the highly popular tortilla. From my own experience so far in Nicaragua, just about everyday for breakfast, tortillas have been served. A meal such as the one in the photograph below are often accompanied by a hot basket of fresh corn tortillas. 

A few days ago, the group visited the Cultural Center and we went to an artist’s studio located on the second floor of the Cultural Center. In the studio there were four artists at work. It was here that I learned about a new art form involving the use of cornhusks. In the studio there was a large table in the center of the room. Around the table were pink sacks filled with corn husks, wooden crates filled with corn husks dyed all sorts of different colors, and the artists themselves seated around the large table working on an art form that involved small pieces of the colorful corn husks being glued to a board to create illustrations of various subjects. The process of making these works of art seemed to involve an initial drawing in pen or pencil. This initial drawing served as a guide for the artist to know where to apply and glue down the small pieces of corn husks to the board. As the artist continues to glue down more and more pieces of corn husk, an image emerges that is enlivened by the expressive, vibrant colors used to dye the husks. Once the surface was entirely covered and the image was complete, an acrylic primer was applied over the entirety of the surface to seal down the corn husks and preserve the final image. 

The feeling I got when entering the studio at first was one of curiosity. Although immediately recognized the materials that the artists were using--the corn husks--the mosaic-like appearance of the final image was something very new to me and intriguing. I found it most interesting to see the use of a very accessible material (corn husks) being transformed into a colorful, flat, 2-dimensional image. 

(pink sacks full of corn husks)

 (crates filled with corn husks dyed various colors)

 (corn husks being glued to a board; initial phase in corn husk artwork)

 (artist at work in studio, adding more colorful corn husks to the board as an image of yellow flowers begins to develop and become recognizable)

El autobús lleno de madera

It has officially been a week since our group arrived here in the beautiful country of Nicaragua! We have made our way through various cities, including Managua, Ticuantepe, Masaya, Granada, and Esteli, seeing vast landscapes and introducing our bodies and minds to a culture very opposite of our own and it has been beautiful to experience! Yesterday we were able to give ourselves a nice break from the city of Esteli and traveled South to the Zultue de Estanzuela, which is a small waterfall located in the Tisey Estanzuela Natural Reserve. We caught the 1:30 bus after our Spanish lessons had ended and the bus rides each way were by far the most unique experiences I have ever had. 

On the way there all of the seats were full, along with a bit of room in the back and throughout the aisle. Being the first of our group to get on, I made my way to the back, pushing through vendors selling vitamins and fruits to where I found myself a seat on a motor-bike wheel across from a lovely old woman with whom I swapped smiles. Rachel joined me on a bus tire next to mine and we were off! Then we made a stop and more people packed themselves into the bus. Finally after making it to the reserve we hopped out the back door, avoiding the awful experience that would have been maneuvering through the crowd.   

After a wonderfully relaxing time at the falls swimming, we caught the 4:30 bus back to Esteli and were greeted by another surprise on board; Wood. There were wooden planks stretching down the aisle, ready to be built into something and logs sprawled across the back seats, which a few of us decided to sit on. They were a lot more comfortable than expected and I would do it again in a heartbeat! There was also a woman carrying a chicken in a plastic bag, with only its head sticking out. What a sight! Being a person who has spent a lot of time on buses, I was pleasantly surprised and quite enthralled by the experience. I wish the bus rides in the United States were filled with this much character and life rather than the limiting restrictions of personal headphones and cell phones. We leave tomorrow for San Juan Limay and will get to meet our host families who we will be living with for the next two weeks while we work on painting a mural and teaching the children an array of artistic techniques. I have been so happy with my experience thus-far and am even more ecstatic and slightly nervous for what is to come. 

Saturday, July 12, 2014

"Within there is Nicaragua"

Because of its length, I only include an excerpt here, but I stumbled upon this beautiful poem tonight while working on my independent study. I was really inspired by a poetry reading that we were fortunate to be able to attend here in Esteli this evening.

Outside Times Ten,
 and One Within

By Yolanda Blanco


is the moon
whose breast gapes with wounds...


there's dirty linen shamelessly displayed

trash is deep
outside it's sickening

deep is the past
deep the future

there's dried up vomit
in the volcano's crater

field on field
of lamentation

there's Washington...


another outside
is being built


joy is here within
deep within

and water gushes

within there is Nicaragua.

What I find really important about the poem, written by another female Nicaraguan poet, is its complexity. It's hard to look at the horrors this country has witnessed, and the problems that linger and to be hopeful. But Blanco insists that these are things "outside" of Nicaragua.
Blanco has to dig through Nicaragua's fraught political history and its resulting problems to arrive at its true essence: a superhuman endurance. Through all its struggles, Nicaragua is not defeated. There is joy, and "deep is the future."

Friday, July 11, 2014

I never thought I'd be in Nicaragua!

 Never in my wildest dreams did I think that I would end up spending five weeks of the summer before my senior year in Nicaragua. When the opportunity arose I was totally against it. "I can't go to there," was probably one of the first thoughts that went through my head. But I started doing research and realized that Nicaragua seemed like a place that I could actually enjoy being in. Then I realized that I hadn't spoken any Spanish in four years and just about convinced myself that this trip was not for me. After a few restless nights of pondering over the idea of leaving the only place I've ever really known, I told myself that if I ever wanted to prove something to myself, now was the time to do it. I have big dreams of traveling the world someday, and why should I keep putting them off. So I gathered the courage to fill out the paperwork and plan my finances. Everything began falling into place for me and this trip. Before I knew it, it was the first week of July and my bags had to get packed. I think I was so excited to get on the plane and make new friends that I could have ran miles if I tried. 

During the days leading up to July 6, I kept trying to imagine what Nicaragua was going to be like. I had no idea what was in store for me. Where was I going to be sleeping? What was the weather going to be like? Am I actually going to eat food while I'm there? Questions just kept flying through my head waiting to be answered. 

Finally, I stepped off the plane in Managua ready to dive into whatever was going to be thrown at me. I was scared shitless. Proudly, I can say that it's been only 5 days since that plane ride, and I've never been more comfortable with a group of people than I am right now. Coming from a different school was going to be a challenge, but the girls of the program completely accepted me and my art. 

I'm happy to say that I've figured out where I'm supposed to be sleeping, and that the weather can fluctuate quickly, but it's different and I like it.
I've eaten so much fresh fruit with my breakfast, that I'm going to implement it into my diet when I return home. Also, on the first full day, I had the freshest fish in my life thus far: fried Tilapia... still with all its bones. Let's just say there's plenty for me to eat and not be worried. 

I can't wait to see what San Juan de Limay has instore for me!


Happy six years!

We're in our sixth year of Art of Solidarity and back in action here in Nicaragua with seven TALENTED all-woman-all-the-time artists, plus mom and abuela!  To think this all started out of a Baltimore City public school classroom, ACCE, with my high school students and grad student peers of MICA in 2006 when we were Bmore Cultured (image above). I couldn't be more excited to come back with such a dedicated and diligent delegation. Oh, was that an awesome alliteration? Yes, it certainly was!