Posted by: HelenRortvedt | 13 February 2006

Granada again and classes begin!

It seems like a lot has happened since I wrote last. I spent the weekend in Granada and had a great time. I returned to Jinotepe last night, exhausted, and classes began in the laboratory this morning.

I finished work at school by lunchtime on Friday and decided to have my first sola adventure in Nicaragua. I took a colectivo the 30km or so to Granada. I ended up checking into my hostel at the same time as a group of three American travellers, and naturally (as is the life of a traveller) became buds for the weekend. Had a great time dancing the night away at a great local club on Friday night and we were in much need of a relaxing day on Saturday, so we headed for La Laguna del Apoyo, which is about 15km outside of town. La Laguna is a sparkling blue crater lake halfway in between Granada and Masaya, and quite possibly the most picturesque and peaceful place I have ever been. Definitely the best swimming spot I have ever seen, despite the seismic activity at the bottom of the lake and the requisite monster legends that accompany any such body of water. We spent the afternoon swimming, hanging out in innertubes, eating bananas, sleeping, and swinging in hammocks. Not bad. On Sunday morning we went to Masaya to check out the famed markets, and (unsurprsingly) the National Artisans Market was geared just at foreign tourists and the prices certainly reflected that. There is no bargaining to be had there, and it is so sheltered from real Nicaragua–a bit dissapointing. But, after a quick drink, we headed for the real market and were met by miles of narrow aisles and thousands of stalls selling everything you could imagine. It was nice to be back in the real Nicaragua after the breif departure to Epcot Center Nicaragua. The bus ride to and from Masaya was lively and cheap (about $0.35 each way!). I had a bit of a scare last night trying to get back to Jinotepe and I thought the last bus had already left, but one eventually showed up, and I made it home alright. It was really nice to get out of Jinotepe for the weekend though.

The sun setting over Granada.

La Laguna del Apoyo. The dock and a small guesthouse/snackbar belongs to an American couple who run a hostel in Granada (the infamous Bearded Monkey for my backpacking audience), and invite day trippers and overnight guests to lose themselves in the tranquility of their “Monkey Hut” on the Laguna.

On the bus from Masaya back to Granda. Me, Mariah (great travelling companion) and Patricia, who we met on the bus. Preciosa.

This morning I woke up early and was at school before 7am. I have just finished the morning session and have a short lunch break before beginning again in the afternoon. I am exhausted already. These kids have so much energy and certainly don’t understand the concept of speaking clearly in Spanish so I can understand their questions. Some of them are really poorly behaved, but others are great. This will certainly take some getting used to, and I am expecting this week to be hard. But, we do have a man who I *think* will be working with me in the Lab. He lived in Canada for ten years, so he speaks excellent English. We have very different styles and ideas, so it’s not ideal, but we will work it out. Hopefully he will stick around. But basically, it’s nice to finally have the lab up and running and to feel like someone will stick around after I leave.

English Lab ready for students. ¡Por fin!

Audifonos. One of the new headphones outlets that we installed in the Eastern wall of the English lab. Real basic technology, but it is still an invaluable educational tool here.

I can never resist a good political photo opportunity. This FSLN (Sandinista) flag was etched into this chair by a previous student.

The first class in the lab. The teachers split their large classes in two to be able to accomodate them in the lab. The girls come the first hour and the boys the second. Needless to say, the first hour of each class is less trying than the second!

Not twenty minutes after I originally published this post and I inhaled my lunch before the next class was to begin, the power went out, rendering the lab essentially useless for a few hours. We made due for a couple of classes before it came back on, but it was a bit of a struggle…especially considering how worn out I was after the morning! Oh well, asi es la vida.



  1. Have courage Helen! I didn’t want to tell you before classes began, but those were the most exhausting weeks I’ve ever worked! I have full faith you can do it, I just made sure to stay well hydrated, have a shot of that stomach-burning instant coffee (don’t eat the churros from the school cantina however tempting they may be), and eat every bit of lunch mom made. The lab looks great – i’m so happy for you and the students!! Way to have a good trip, too- things always have a way of working out in Nica… we started calling it “travel magic” when a super fortunate event saved us. Things are picking up here in France, I forget that it’s possible to plan ahead of time and have everything work out ;)cuidate, oiste!

  2. Well, I think you’re pretty awesome Helen Rortvedt. I check this blog every day and am always amazed at your insight into this world of ours. Sounds like you’re having some good adventures down there. Be safe, have fun and keep posting the pictures – love ’em! Love you!

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