Monday, 12 June 2017

Through New Eyes

We had the wonderful privilege of hosting Grandma and Grandpa Hawkins along with my Aunt and Uncle—Teresa and Butch. What an awesome experience it was to have our family visit us in this place we call home, to meet people we love, and to give US the experience of seeing San Nicolas, and Nicaragua through a fresh set of eyes! It was fun to introduce them to all the things we love about living here. They met many people in our community. We enjoyed a couple of days of school, English class and other “work days” in San Nicolas, and then we headed south for some days in Granada, where we did a few tours and ate lots of good food. Thanks for visiting!! We love you all!

(All picture credit to Teresa Little)


Teresa and Butch at the La Garnacha Mirador


Relaxing after a little hike to the Mirador


Lunch at La Garnacha


English class with a special guest!


Puzzles!!! And lots of friends.


We had a morning at my elementary school


Profe Maria bringing us some Matasanos :)


The obligatory Granada carriage tour! We learned lots of good history on this trip!


Boat tour. And a monkey jumped on our boat!! :D

Thanks so much for visiting! We are so glad we can share these memories together and look forward to seeing you again soon!


Tuesday, 6 June 2017


As we enter into June—our last full month here—we have a few classes wrapping up and we are starting to think about good-byes. It really feels crazy how fast this two years went. And I know we won’t even know the extent of our learning and changes for months and years, but I feel like we have learned so much about ourselves, individually and as a couple. We have just learned SO SO MUCH about ourselves, about community, about being flexible, about work-life balance, about solidarity, about a new culture, about so many things…. That could be 10 more blog posts….maybe someday.


My English class just wrapped up last week and certificates of completion have been handed out. The classes went a lot better this semester and I felt a lot better overall in curriculum, lesson planning and classroom management (Shout out to Brittany Hershberger and P.C. Costa Rica!) I had a really fun group of kids this semester and it will be sad to say good-bye to them. I will miss them and their incessant yelling “GOOD MORNING!!”…even when it’s the afternoon :)


Kyle has been working hard at the high school, as a glorified secretary/english teacher. He has done so much to help the teachers get organized with their gradebooks and consolidating to get cumulative grades easily calculated. He plans to train one of the teachers who will be cutting back on some of her classroom hours to manage the excel system for grades, as well as organize the computer folders and files for accessibility. He also have been a key part of all the daily English classes taught by the English teacher, Vilma. The students enjoy hearing Kyle’s pronunciation and Kyle enjoys telling them that every assignment is an exam worth 100 points :D He is always joking around and having fun with the students and I keep telling him… “I don’t think they like you at all!” The administration and the teachers will miss Kyle’s presence, as well! We aren’t allowed to talk about a despedida (good-bye party) until 2 days before we leave. Ha!

DSC02940 My 2x/week walks to Quebrada de Agua elementary school continue to go well. I am helping with Math and Spanish classes. I also teach a gym class once a week. I’ve had to get creative as we don’t have a ball…or a gym. But we still have fun and move our bodies. I am also playing in a women’s soccer league. And I am trying to keep up but, 1.) I am old and 2.) these ladies play HARD and I am pretty shy on the soccer field. I do my  best, though and 3.) I prefer to play sports where I can use my hands ;)


We celebrated Nicaragua mother’s day last week (on May 30), we made cake for some of our favorite mom’s in town! Now we are gearing up to help host a student group that is coming for an immersion experience with their fearless leader, Billy Byrnes (1st volunteer in San Nicolas!) We are looking forward to meeting the high school students, but we are definitely excited for the chance to see Billy and Kristin again before our time wraps up here!

At this time, we are planning to leave San Nicolas on (or around) July 10th. So those are the big things going on right now. A big thing on our minds are the good-byes that are ahead. We know it will be difficult to say good-bye, but even more difficult to put into words what this experience (THESE PEOPLE!) have meant to us. But we will try!

DSCN0890 Love. 

Saturday, 3 June 2017

New Hospital!!

On May 25th, the town of San Nicolas had a very exciting day—the inauguration of the new mini-hospital! While there has been a health center in town for many years, this hospital will allow for more access to care, including specialist doctors and more staff. I think this is a great step for our little town. It is incredible to think of the changes we have seen in the past two years! We know many people would say the same thing about education and infrastructure in this area, and now they can add health care to that list as well. Below are some pictures taken by our mayor’s office. It really was a great day to celebrate this new addition!

(Photo Credit: San Nicolas Alcaldia)


A few weeks before completion


Inauguration Day!


The Emergency Entrance


Inside the Hospital

This is a really great addition to the community. I know many people will benefit from these facilities and the new staff and specialists.


Wednesday, 24 May 2017

Visitors Galore!

We had the privilege to host 3 different couples in March and April! While 2 of the couples were new to San Nicolas, the third couple knew their way around quite well :)
Davie and Sarah visited us in March and were able to recconect with people in San Nicolas and see some of the sights around this beautiful country. We loved hosting them and sharing our joys and struggles about living and working in San Nicolas. They just GET IT! We also had a chance to skype with Billy and Kristin while they were here and that was a great time for all of us to connect. We enjoyed catching up and look forward to the next time our paths cross!

In March, we also hosted Jill and Peter who were our friends (and short-term roommates) in Indianapolis. We loved having them here and showing them our lives here. We loved that they were able to visit our schools and help us in English class. Turns out ‘Jill’ is very difficult to pronounce in Spanish ;) We also enjoyed a bit of vacation time with them and visited a beautiful beach near San Juan del Sur.

In April, Greta and Darin made their way south from Portland, Oregon. We enjoyed spending time with them. We visited our schools, hung out in our patio area, and enjoyed some time on Ometepe Island.

(No photo credit to me: Sarah, Jill and Greta! Thanks!!)

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Lunch in Esteli (Kyle, Alli, Jake, Sarah, Davie)


Getting that wifi from the park


Enjoying Breakfast with Friends


“Playing” soccer with some of my elementary students in Quebrada de Agua. My team definitely beat “Team Peter” :)


Jill and Pete in Granada


Yoga at Sunset


Group Picture on the beach (Alli, Kyle, Peter, Jill)

Greta and I at the Mirador—another amazing sunset.


Checking out the plants at La Garnacha


Beach Day!


Incredible views at the Mirador

Alli and Greta

Ometepe was incredible, as always!

It has truly been a blessing to have SO many visitors over our 2 years here. We really feel lucky that so many have chosen to see our lives here and now get it in a different way. I will have another visitor blog coming up, but as we start to wrap up our time here in San Nicolas, I will also start writing about the good-byes and experiences we will be having over our final 2 months of service. I cannot believe we are gearing up for those good-byes.


Thursday, 18 May 2017

Yes, I Can!

That is the title of our 12-week English program this semester. We have switched it up a bit this year and decided to work more towards a “burst” of English with a focus on pronunciation and conversation. With the help of some very awesome Costa Rica Peace Corps Friends who passed on some great planning materials, we are really enjoying the classes and the students seemed to be more engaged. These classes aren’t meant to get to full to fluency in 12 weeks. BUT it is supposed to get the kids up and participating and to get them to the the point when they say Si, Yo Puedo! (Yes I CAN!) If they are willing to get in front of the class and hold a basic introduction conversation without giggling and running away then we are half-way there :D

Last week we did the clothing unit where we learned a lot of clothing vocab and the proper use of the verb “to wear”. Of course, this meant a fashion show (in my younger student class), and the kids loved it! Here are a few pictures from that day:

Helen, the Fashionista

Ronmel, the coolest dude in town!

Ciara, the trend setter

Luis Aaron, the trail blazer

All the models and Profe Allison, looking SWEET! :)


Saturday, 28 January 2017

Vacation means VACATION :)

Wow! Sorry we’ve  been MIA in Bloglandia…When school let out and we wrapped up graduations we took the word vacation very seriously…and stopped blogging. Ha! But we are back and gearing up for another school year. Classes begin on February 6th and we are ready to start out English classes again and reconnect with the students and teachers.

December and January have been a great mix of relaxation, connecting with our community, San Nicolas fiestas partonales (homeland parties! Complete with bull riding, approximately 10 parades and lots of food and drink) visiting places in Nicaragua we had not yet seen, and hosting friends and family! We enjoyed having Kyle’s brothers for a visit when we were able to explore the island of Ometepe for the first time (AMAZING!) and then my siblings came to visit the week following Christmas. We went volcano boarding and celebrated the new year in Leon! It was a lot of fun. And great to be surrounded by family around the holidays.

Christmas day looked VERY different for us this year. We were ALONE! It was, honestly, quite relaxing, and we enjoyed it. But we are also looking forward to being surrounded by our families again for future holidays. While we enjoyed a relaxing day of Christmas snacks and movies, it just didn’t quite feel like Christmas, especially with no snow :) We did spend Christmas eve with our host family and shared some of our favorite dips and Christmas treats with them (spinach artichoke dip and Pretzels with a chocolate kiss in the middle). We also made a few other cookies and  treats and delivered plates to our neighbors and friends. I would say a pretty successful Christmas :D

We have continued to host our adult English classes and help out at the high school as needs arise. The school director had been on a well-deserved week-off, so we have also enjoyed our time at home, cleaning the house, sprucing up the yard, and inviting friends over for meals. We just recently arrived back in Nicaragua after traveling through Central America with my parents. We had a great time reconnecting with them and seeing beautiful parts of this slice of the world. Now we are refreshed, ready and excited dive back into the 2017 school year! We are ready to see our students and fellow teachers and we are excited to continue to our work with English and building relationships.

I think that about sums up our vacation time so far! Here are a variety of pictures from school vacation 2017 :D


The Bishop came during our town’s fiestas patronales in San Nic to lead a mass. Our priest (padre patricio) is in the white shirt and khakis. Fun fact: he is also our landlord :)


Kyle and his brothers at Volcan Masaya

20161216_172618_Richtone(HDR)One of the amazing lookout points on Ometepe


I love this picture :D We did a tour of Flor de Cana Rum factory tour with Kyle’s brother and had to get this shot!


Flor de cana tour


Kyle helping a friend with some accounting/excel work.


We were lucky enough to cross paths with my lovely aunt and her super fun family! :) Thanks for letting us crash your party!


Pizza making with some of the high school students


My siblings visited and we did a lot of puzzles :) We also visited Leon and went volcano boarding.


New years eve dinner in Leon!


With my siblings, we visited Somoto Canyon and jumped, floated and walked our way through the canyon. Beautiful!


We made a delicious lunch with our friend, Albertina. She brought veggies from her beautiful organic farm.


Albertina preparing the salad in our kitchen.


Hanging out with your parents is so much more fun when you are older :D


Lovely dinners, great weather, and lots of laughs shared!


And, of course, amazing sunsets at every turn. I swear that Nicaragua has some of the best sunsets in the world! Can’t beat these views!

Happy 2017, let’s make it a good one!