Hello from Granada!!!
I did not get eaten by a bull shark in Lake Nicaragua, despite my long term absence from my blog. The past several months have been chock-full of transitions, new faces, and busy-ness. None of that is a good excuse though for falling off the grid and as such, I want to say sorry. For all of you who contributed to my fundraising and believe in all our efforts here, you deserve to know what is going on. I will try my best to recap the past few months without boring you to tears. And I further pledge to write at least twice a month from now on.
In June our Nicaraguan coaches participated in an Inter-American Women's Soccer Exchange and flew (many of them for the first time) to the U.S. for two weeks. They were able to coach camps in Boston and at Dartmouth and participate in workshops. They absolutely crushed the Dartmouth dining hall and were able to see a Big Papi in action at Fenway...all in all a very cool experience for them. They also left with a Team Leader, as her year ending coincided with their trip. Kelly had become my best friend here in Nica and someone I imagine to be a life-long friend. I totally lucked out having her here as both a friend, a far superior Spanish speaker and guide, and endlessly caring and awesome person. I know my experience in my first five months would have been half as enjoyable had it not been for her.
Anyways, the Nicas and Kelly leaving meant summer interns were coming. As luck would have it, I managed to swindle two of my best friends in the whole world to apply for the job. Having them here for six weeks in June and July was even more fun than I possibly could have imagined. They both have an infectious passion for soccer and kids that made them so fun to work with. Additionally, our traveling adventures to Matagalpa in the north and beachy San Juan del Sur were enjoyable and awesome in a totally different way. Selfishly, I felt like I had a little piece of home with me while they were here. Thanks for coming Jake and Leigh! The challenges of our roles together only served to solidify my admiration of you two.
My luck didn't stop there though. On the night before my birthday, what seemed like a routine birthday piñata actually turned out to be an elaborately planned surprise from my boyfriend Tom. Being my sappy self, I immediately burst into tears. I was and still am so touched by the gesture and by the teamwork and effort and sheer sneakiness it took to pull that off. The next few weeks Tom and I had an awesome time. Mostly spent in Granada while I worked, we were able to squeeze in an amazing getaway to the Corn Islands, which, by the way, I am convinced are one of the world's best kept secrets (not to get all Lonely Planet on you). A largely undiscovered Caribbean paradise, Little Corn Island is actually amazing. Anyone who can go, DO IT.
After Tom left after a few weeks, Soccer Without Borders annual High school Camp kicked off and we were busy from about 7am-10pm everyday for a week. 15 highschoolers from all over the U.S. came down, bringing with them a ton of donations and a ton of energy. Playing with them and the girls throughout our week of "Olympics" and watching their worlds expand a bit was really cool to see.
....which essentially brings me to the present day, which is today, Tuesday, August 13.
In the next few weeks we start our regular programming and our "season," which goes from August until December kicks off. I am in the process of solidifying a curriculum for our activities and I am really excited for our league to start. We earned 4th out of 8 teams in the Spring and I think we will only improve this season. Our attendance has been awesome so far and the girls spirits are high and optimistic. Tonight we will be doing an activity on team identity and pride. We might change our team name as a way to start fresh and we will be coming up with a team handshake. I am excited for the next few weeks as we solidify our roster and get into a routine. Soccer-wise, my team improved dramatically even since I have been here and I can't wait to see how much more they improve in the coming season.
I will be in touch SOON. I promise.