Sooo much has happened since we last blogged but I will try to inform you the best that I can. This experience is so difficult to put into words. Yesterday the three amigos ventured over to tres pisas (the office) where Larkin (an intern who has been in Nicaragua since September) taught all the volunteers how to make chocolate. We cooked the cocoa beans, cracked them, blended them, boiled them with milk and azucar (sugar), and waited for the compilation to cool. The best way to describe the taste of our homemade chocolate is to take the flavor of dark chocolate and times it by about twenty. This stuff was potent. SPOILER ALERT: I think Madz and J are taking home some of the authentic cocoa beans to make with their families.
Shortly after enjoying our creation, the Soccer Without Borders Nicaraguan staff held a presentation that showed the progress they have made over the past year. I was pretty impressed with their PowerPoint. Many of these coaches have never used a computer before and they delivered flawlessly. They explained just how important soccer is to these girls and how being involved with a team instills accountability, confidence, discipline, and so much more. They explained many of the girls have problems at home and it can be difficult to get them to smile on certain days. Coming to team oriented activities can act as a positive getaway. I am beginning to learn that Soccer Without Borders is so much bigger than a soccer program. It is life changing.
We spent some time with the oldest team after the presentation. Each girl was finishing a scrap book documenting their season. It included three pictures. Many of the girls have never seen themselves in a picture so it was something very new. I bonded with a few girls in particular. Communicating, or attempting at least, is my favorite part of this trip. I used broken Spanish and charades to ask questions and they fire right back with broken English and giggling. It is amazing how long they will stay and talk with us, how much each person gets out of each conversation, and ultimately neither party knows much about the other language. They are so curious about our culture, just as we are so curious about theirs. SIDE NOTE: these people are absolute sweethearts.
We woke up early today and wet to another school. We got to play with four different classes of girls. I'm pretty sure they all had a blast. There was a team of girls who have been considering joining the Soccer Without Borders league. They don't have many opportunities to play games, so at recess it had been decided that the volunteers would scrimmage the girls team. It was the talk of the school. Every boy and girl surrounded the basketball court (acting as our soccer field). Larkin told us it was good for the girls to see what real competition was like so we took it to them, finishing at about 8-0 with some very impressive goals. The crowd went wild and the girls' team loved it. They were stars despite the loss.
We walked a couple miles back to the office where many of us were tuckered out. We struggled to keep our eyes open as we participated in a bracelet making workshop ran by Tancho (a Nicaraguan coach). He is el jefe (the boss) at making bracelets and creates, then sells them in the States to raise money for Soccer Without Borders. Contact Zoey Bouchelle if you wish to buy a few. They are complex. Let's just say... mine didn't look so good. Maddy and J-Ro on the other hand received the pattern fairly well and made some neat ones.
Finally, we strapped on our cleats and hit the field. We played in a 6-v-6 tourney with volunteers and FSF chicas combined. Unfortunately, the Penn State crew did not represent because none of our team won. (I'd like to add there was so very dodgy reffing, including a goal that was pretty obviously nowhere near the goal haha). It was so much fun! Some of these girls are quite good! And to think some of them haven't even been playing for a year! Each of us PSU girls did bring our personalities on the field though. Maddy was flying up and down the sideline doing spin moves and crosses, while J-Ro was tricking everyone with heel flicks and crafty footwork. I of course was running around like a chicken with my head cut off spouting energetic positive Spanish phrases...judging by the amount of laughter the Nicaraguans had, I think many of the phrases made no sense at all. Either way, the game was great fun and I can't wait to play with them again!!
After the match we went to a more American restaurant with a new friend, a player from Auburn. Lydia is a speed demon forward with a personality much like Carly Niness... if there is such a thing. It was nice to chat with her over a good meal, an ice cold beverage, and some air conditioning. Little things we take for granted are heaven on earth after a few days in this foreign country. Constantly evaluating how fortunate we are and appreciating the simple pleasures I receive every day. J-Ro is up to blog manana. Until next time... Adios.
P.S. The Nicaraguans like to give out nicknames as a term of endearment. They usually choose a feature that stands out on you most, which sometimes can be offensive like gorda (fatty). For instance Zoey Bouchelle is Rubia (Blondie). Apparently I am cuatro primita which means fourth cousin. Since Nicaraguans can't pronounce the J sound, Jess sounds like Yes so people call her Si. They also can't pronounce Ds well, so Maddy is Mary.