WOO hoo

“What if the woman you’re rescuing has really big boobs and you can’t find her sternum or you can’t get to it to give her chest compressions? What do you do then?”

Pantera is asking me this in Spanish. Juan and the two other boat captains start cracking up and joking—in Spanish. I try to take control of the class and explain that if a woman really needs chest compressions, she’s probably dying and they won’t (or shouldn’t) be thinking about her boobs, however big they may be—in Spanish. Jackie starts giggling too and then answers her cell phone.

Two weeks ago (man, I’m behind!) Thursday, Friday, and Saturday mornings I gave two hours of CPR/AED/First Aid training to the Brio crew—Juan, Jackie, and the three boat captains. Five Nicaraguans and me, attempting to teach in Spanish a subject I myself learned only a week hence. Attempting to get these five to take the class seriously (including the funny looking manekins that inflate when you breath into them). Attempting to give a somewhat credible ‘medical’ class in SPANISH.

Ah. I say I’m fluent in Spanish but what I really mean is fluent in Spanish, except for when referring to the pH scale, anaphylactic shock and epi-pens, electric shocks to the heart, symptoms of internal bleeding, and several other areas. Otherwise known as—teaching a CPR class in Spanish is hard.

I awoke every morning at 6 to make my class outline, which consisted of me condensing the over-information provided by the CPR course-book (which I do have in Spanish, quite helpful) and looking up every other word in Jacob’s Spanish-English dictionary. I now know ‘rescue breaths’ are ‘soplos de respiración’ and that teaching your friends is also hard. I think the class went well enough—for my part, I learned quite a bit about teaching and Spanish, and I hope my eager students learned about chest compressions and anaphylactic shock.

Also two weeks ago…we had our first WOO meeting—woohoo!—and have since had two more planning meetings. “We” are Adam, Norma (an awesome Nicaraguan woman set to take over the project in the coming years), Joe and Amie (a young American couple) and myself. Whereas a lot of things were up in the air the past several months, uncertain and unplanned (or so it seemed) now, things are moving.  I’ve been really impressed by Adam’s organization skills, his thoroughness, and general excitement about this after-school program…his excitement is definitely contagious.

So: yesterday we had our first meeting with the kiddos. There are 25 of them enrolled in the after school program, and are split into two groups according to where they live. Although they all go to high school in Tola (and ride the subsidized bus) the first group will hold their afterschool program in Gigante #1 (one of two elementary schools in Gigante) on Monday and Wednesday for 3 hours and the other group in Gigante #2 on Tuesday and Thursday. These three hours are half a study hall, half a group activity. I’ll be teaching Wednesday, Thursday and my activity is… English class! Joe is doing organic gardening on Monday, Tuesday, and Amie will help out at Gigante #2, doing both activities, since 18 kids are enrolled there and only 7 at Gigante #1.

Yesterday’s meeting was technically an orientation to the after-school ‘club’, where we introduced ourselves and laid out ground rules for the program. (We decided to call it a club instead of a class, injecting the program with just a touch of semantically-based fun.) I know about two-thirds of the kids already, and it was just really great to see them all again, in a somewhat formal setting (instead of awkwardly waving at them on my runs). Having just come from school in the morning, they were all decked out in their uniforms—white button down tops and navy bottoms—and were all squirmy and chattery. I gave Leana a hug and said hi to Ana and Nancy… who said…vamos a tener ingles de nuevo con Megan! 

And thus, I’m very excited to dive back into ingles con los niños next week. 


Last Thursday, during my evening English class sheltered behind the Brio guest rooms (the only place lit at night), we heard, all the way from the town, a car driving along the road through Gigante with a loudspeaker attached to its roof. The car informed us in rapid, unintelligible Spanish, about a party, some party, and something about beer, maybe free. I asked Jackie and Ernesto what it was all about (this after the car had passed by Brio and we had to stop all activity because it was blaring so loudly). Apparently, someone was throwing a party in Gigante that weekend at the discoteca. Gigante doesn’t have a discoteca, at least to my knowledge, so I continued my questions. But where? For what? For who? Jackie gave me her ‘you seriously don’t know that’ look and informed me that someone who wanted to make money was throwing it. Oh. But where? Gigante is not a place that can just hide a discoteca and bar.

I found out on Saturday when the Brio crew trapsed down to town. Someone had fenced off a dusty expanse between two buildings, built a mini-stage with a DJ booth, in front of said expanse that served as a dance floor; transformed the open side of the building into a car, and constructed two primitive outhouses. And we had our discoteca! So, I danced the night away in Gigante’s makeshift discoteca, which disappeared the following day.

I’m getting along really well with all the Brio folk. There was a hazy weirdness surrounding our interactions when I got back, which has disappeared. I’m now actually working a lot more with Juan and Jackie, and generally for Brio. I help coordinate breakfast and greet guests and be a perky receptionist and show rooms and tend bar when there are people around in the evenings. There apparently was some miscommunication here (and between here and the States) about what actually I was doing (or supposed to be doing) and that caused some tension and distress in my life last weekend. Things are much better and I’ve jumped into my tasks, but I’m still a little worse for the wear. It’s nice to work so closely with my friends, and speak more Spanish, but… I’m not sure this is why I am came back. I certainly am invested in Brio’s success, but I find myself much more willing to devote an afternoon to discussing whether or not we should call WOO’s after school program a class or a club than talking to really very nice and friendly Canadian clients about who I am and why again I’m here. 

As you may notice by the date gaps between posts, I have not been writing and this saddens me (so do something about it! you may say). Two posts in a month is pretty abysmal, and although I began writing a bit of fiction, that’s dwindled into in the background as well. My excuse? I spend so much time in front of my computer as is, making signs for Brio and working on the Surf Nica website and keeping in touch on emails, that by the time the afternoon rolls around and I have time to write, my computer is overheating and my eyes are blurry. This is a horrible excuse I do realize, as there are always going to be obstacles in front of writing and no amount of ‘perfect time, perfect place’ (and a not-overheating computer) is going to make those go away.

I’ve been running almost every day; long runs along the beach when the tides are in my favor, enjoying the shadows of the early morning or the coolness that comes right after the sunset—and of course, the very running along a beach at sunset. I’ve made it a priority to get in the water every day—so even though it’s freezing (about high 60’s), I’ve almost made it in every day. I haven’t had the desire to go surfing—at all. I’m using as an excuse that we’ve had the longboards rented out to clients for most of the time that I’ve been here. But I’m sort of complacent or over it, once I realized that I could get up and could probably make it work if I really wanted to. Do I really want to? Or maybe that’s the issue. I swim out past the breakers, long swims along the shoreline—and that’s much more peaceful and rejuvenating than being pummeled. Mostly, all I know is that I prefer to be running at sunset than under waves, so… that’s what I’ve been doing.

I’m getting a much better workout on my runs than I would usually due to the gale-force winds that have been blowing since I arrived. The past several days have been especially bad. I literally flew north along the coast yesterday, finishing the first 5K to the end of the beach in no time; the way back, however, I couldn’t. get. anywhere., grinding against the force of the wind impeding my progress and whipping sand into my face. 

But, I must remind you–I’m still running along the pacific ocean at sunset. Standing on a rock jetty and the half-orb disappears into the sea and I get blown over by that and the wind. 


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