I participated in a family health taller (workshop) at the end of September, right here in La Esperanza coincidentally, to learn about how to give charlas on diarrhea, pneumonia, nutrition/malnutrition, safe water and healthy cooking. It was a cold and rainy week in La Esperanza for the taller so everyone was a little miserable. It was also awkward for me because the two community members I "brought" to the workshop I had never met before. I was supposed to start actually giving the charlas this week, but fijese que the budget proposal with the NGO wasn't ready and so we can't start until November. I'll be giving 6 hour charlas on the above topics plus cooking demonstrations in 20 communities from November through February, at least that's the plan right now. Things are always subject to change here. If it sounds like a lot, it is, but I'm really excited to be doing work that I'm more interested in.
I'm also working with two women's groups who make artesania to prepare them for an annual artisan fair at the US Embassy that the Peace Corps has helped sponsor the past two years. That's coming up the second week in December. I will be giving them each a charla on aspects of creating a business plan and then helping them take pictures of their products and write a brief bio that will go into a art fair catalog of all the participating groups, which I am also editing/creating. It will be a good opportunity for the groups to compare their products with other artisans and to get some face-to-face time with customers. It's only a little tricky because the groups are located 1 to 2 hours away so communicating information and doing advanced planning is difficult.
Nolan has had nearly nonstop work doing water studies. He completed one in September that he is still working on the design for since one house ended up higher than the tank, so there isn't enough pressure to get the water to that house. He did a quick sewage system survey here in La Esperanza just last week and still has to design that. This week, he's out in a nearby municipality doing another study. (I went with him Monday and a blog about that in specific is forthcoming). They're already trying to line him up to do two more in November! He is also going to start teaching high school chemistry (in Spanish of course) in about 2 weeks at a program called Maestro en Casa. It's like a GED program I guess, where people who never finished school can get their high school diploma by studying at home and having classes one day a week. Most of the people live in isolated rural communities and are either too old or too busy to go to traditional school. Maestro en Casa in La Esperanza has a good reputation and is run by a woman from the US who actually cares if students are learning or not, so the kids or adults really, generally do well. I think that will be exciting for him :)
Despite all this wonderful real work, it seems like day to day life is still moving at the same slow pace. I have been spending a lot of time at home preparing charla papers and when Nolan's doing a design, he's at home all day, so it's a bit boring. We watch a lot of movies and tv shows, our new favorite show is Community. We've been keeping up with Michigan football via internet radio on the weekends and doing a lot of cooking (bolognese, ginger ale, banana cake, zucchini bread, broccoli and chicken with penne). I also made some lovely curtains for the house (sewn by hand) to try to keep out some of the cold air. It hasn't rained in over a week now, which seems strange, so the town is a big cloud of dust. Oh yeah, and our landlord's/ex-host mom's son has apparently opened up a auto body repair shop in the garage right below our apartment which makes for lovely paint fumes and strange drilling noises at all hours.
Next week we're headed to El Salvador for 8 days to celebrate our 2 year wedding anniversary and Nolan's birthday! Look for pics and many new stories when we get back!