Tag Archives: Sayings

Personal PC Goals: A Review

It seems like ages ago that we made these goals, and indeed it was! A few have changed over time and a couple we didn’t quite finish, but it’s still fun to look back at how far we’ve come:

By the time we rang “the bell” to signal the end of our service in Peace Corps Nicaragua, we wanted to:

  1. Reach Advanced levels in Español
    • Andrés – 8.2014 Intermediate Low / 11.2014 Advanced Low /9.2015 Advanced Mid / 2.21.17 Superior
    • Emily – 8.2014 Novice Mid / 11.2014 Intermediate Mid /9.2015 Intermediate High / 2.21.17 Advanced Mid
  2. Learn some local slang: Dicho Doce
  3. Buy a Nicaraguan-made guitar: Meet Camilo
  4. Read a bunch in español
  5. Learn to cook some delicious Nica foods
  6. Visit all the departments of Nicaragua (sin R.A.A.N.)
  7. Join a basketball/volleyball league and/or yoga studio 
  8. Visit the houses of our counterparts: Ana Cecilia, Meysel, Regina, Cristina, Rolando, Zeily, Mariela
  9. Have all of our counterparts over to our house 
  10. Visit at least 20 Peace Corps Volunteer sites: Final count 32
  11. Host family/friends from the U.S. Best Surprise of My Life, The Payne Gang, Molding Memories in Nicaragua, Allen Christmas,Visiting our Peace Corps Family, From the Eyes of the Old Tiger,Cigar Tour with Adopted Family
  12. Run a 10/25 K: Taking Back the Run
  13. Start a new tradition in our family so that we can continue them for years to come, regardless of where we are in the world: 12 Days of [Nilsen] Christmas 2014, 12 Days of [Nilsen] Christmas 2015From May Day to May We, May We Reflect, Intentions for year dos, May We Aprovechar Peace Corps, 12 Days of [Nilsen] Christmas 2016
  14. March in a parade with our schools
  15. Climb/board/swim a few volcanoes. (Yes. You read that right.)
  16. Make Nica friends: It’s Nice To Meet You, EstelíEvery Nica Cloud has a Silver LiningSmall World, Big HeartsAdventure and Company30 Miles to IntegrationAndrew’s First NicaBdayOn Jack-o’-lanters and Histroy: Cultural Exchange Chasing Away the Darkness, #People: Photo Challenge, A Woman who is Changing My Life
  17. Follow a telenovela¡Mi Corazon es Tuyo!
  18. Start the STEP program in Estelí through Fundación Uno: What is STEP?, Permiso, Meaningful Work One STEP at a Time
  19. Return to visit our training towns/families: New Years in Masatepe
  20. Learn at least 5 songs together with some sort of fiddle/banjo/guitar/voice combo
  21. Learn the Nicaraguan National Anthem: Somos Voluntarios
  22. Swim in both Oceans
  23. Participate in Nicaraguan traditions (i.e. folkloric dance, holiday traditions, etc.): Home is where the holiday is, Easter morning, 30 miles to Integration
  24. Visit Ometepe IslandVisiting our Peace Corps Family, From the Eyes of the Old Tiger
  25. Kayak in the Rio San Juan: Adventure is Out There! – Rio San Juan Edition
  26. Visit Corn Islands
  27. Visit Indio Maiz Nature Reserve: Nil Sibs
  28. Facilitate the start of a Community of Practice with the English teachers in the Estelí area: Community of Practice in Practice, We Share a Passion
  29. Don’t adopt a pet, even though they’re so cute!
  30. Help run camp(s): ACCESS Camp 2015, 2016, and 2017, GLOW 2016, and CHACA 2016
  31. Visit the Community of Christ congregations here in Nica
  32. Visit the GU Winter term group 
  33. Go to a Real Estelí (futbol) game: Comparing Christmases
  34. Publish an average of 6 blog posts every month during PC
  35. Feel as comfortable in the Nica street market as in La Colonia:Produce Paradise
  36. Learn/create 10 different ways to braid my hair (Emily) 
  37. Challenge Donald Ugarte to a ping-pong match (Andrew): was challenged…but never was able to find a place/time for the match.
  38. Watch an Español based TV series from start to finish
  39. Buy a hammock: Meet Paz
  40. Visit and/or learn the history of all the sites on the (now old) Nicaraguan currency:
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Dicho for Enthusiastic Agreement

One of the most common expressions you’ll hear among Nicaraguans is the following:

Dale pues! (pronounced dah-lay pw-ace) – Yes.  Absolutely!

Few dichos are as simple and effective at signaling your Nicaraguan street cred as dale pues.  Two main characteristics of Nicaraguan Spanish are their abundant use of the filler word pues, and also not pronouncing the “s” at the end of the words.  Therefore, if you really want to impress your Nica friends, get rid of that s!

Nica: ¿Querés ir al cine? (Wanna go to the movies?)
You: ¡Dale pue! (For sure!)

Nica: Nos vemos mañana a las 9am. (See you tomorrow at 9am)
You: Dale pue. (Sounds good.)

Nica: ¡Estás más Nica que gringo!  ¿Querés un cafecito?
(You’re more Nicaraguan than American!  Want some coffee?)
You: Dale pue.  🙂

Dicho for Karma

Regardless of how people feel about the recent election results, this phrase may apply equally well to solace or celebration:

A cada chancho le llega su sábado – For every pig his Saturday will come.

Yet another dicho full of cultural depth and deliciousness!  Chancho is the more common term used for pig in Nicaragua (and eight other Latin American countries), and, along with corn, is an important dish is many Nicaragua typical foods.  Back in the day, Saturday was slaughter day for the chanchos of Nicaragua, as many pork dishes were (and still are) mainly prepared on the weekends.  Nacatamales are a great example.

The equivalent saying for this dicho in English could be “what goes around, comes around.”  In these times of political change in the U.S., it can be trying to be a representative of the American people when all of our dirty laundry is being aired out to dry.  However, I have to keep hope that the arc of history is bending towards justice, and that my work and relationships here in country help, in some small way, to move it closer.


For more Nica slang, visit Gringo Guide 200.  Cred for the awesome pig picture goes to them!

Dicho for Being Undecided

It’s election season!  While true for the US, it’s also true for Nicaragua.  As an apolitical organization, whose tenure in the country only lasts for as long as we have the invitation of the government, we are instructed not to give our opinion on Nicaraguan politics. Therefore, if this dicho gets directed our way, we must be doing something right:

Ni sos chicha ni limonada – You are neither a fermented, raspberry-flavored corn beverage nor lemonade.

Basically, this means you’re unaffiliated, or on the fence.  If Ken Bone’s overnight celebrity status extends to Nicaragua, this dicho could be used to help orient the crowd to why he was selected to be on the debate stage in the first place.  It can also be used for someone who changes their opinions on an issue.  For so many reasons, this is the perfect dicho for this October.

Dicho for Being OK

As Emily mentioned in some of her previous posts, this period in our service can feel funky, an in-between phase.  For example, I wrote in my journal yesterday about wanting to be present and savor every last moment here, but instead of going over to visit Nica friends I spent 3+ hours emailing different graduate school programs in school psychology.

One thing I’ve definitely been making sure to savor is the delicious, in-season corn.  Nicaraguans are corn people.  Two of their national monikers are Hijos del Maiz (Children of the Corn) and Pinoleros (Pinol People, pinol being a corn mixture used in drinks).  There are countless corn dishes, drinks, desserts, etc. in the national cuisine.  In my opinion, they are all quite scrumptious!

To celebrate Nicaraguan corn, and give voice to how we’re feeling at this point in our service, I give you the following dicho:

Entre camagua y elote – Between baby corn and full-fledged corn on the cob.

Chances are, if you’ve taken any Spanish classes in your life you know at least one way to answer the question “¿Cómo estás?”.  While bien (well/fine) works perfectly well here, you’ll gain some serious points for invoking the corn.  The closest standard Spanish equivalent to this dicho would be más o menos (pronounced má’ o meno’ here in Nica), meaning you’ve been better, but overall things are OK.

Whether it’s baby corn, corn on the cob, güirila, rosquillas, or tortillas, we’ll keep taking it in whatever form it comes to us.  It’s all Nicaraguan, and it’s all delicious 🙂

Dicho for Financial Expectation Management

The new group of Peace Corps Trainees arrived this week, crazy!  Welcome Nica 68!  It seems like a few months ago (and a lifetime ago) that we were just starting our Peace Corps experience.  Over the next three months, but especially during the next couple weeks, they’ll be getting a crash course on Nicaraguan culture and ways to avoid faux pas.  Hopefully, this dicho can help a bit:

A la ley de Santa Marta, cada quien pago lo que se harta – By the law of Saint Martha, everyone pays for what they stuff themselves with.

Without context, you may not see why this phrase is important.  However, consider that during training we receive about $10 a week.  Our meals and lodging are paid directly by Peace Corps, but $10 is all we get for snacks, transport, etc.  We’re also trying to integrate and get to know our host family and community members, so could very likely invite a new Nica friend to do something with us around town.  But beware! In Nicaragua, the Spanish verb invitar suggests that you will cover all the expenses of the invitee.  Try to clarify and say “Vamos a la ley de Santa Marta.”

Turns out the connotations of invitar aren’t just unique to Nicaragua.  During our trip to Guatemala, I learned they have a similar expression:  la ley de Jesús Cristo, cada quien con su pisto – by the law of Jesus Christ, everyone uses their own money.

Transparency is always the best policy in these situations, because, as they say, cuentas claras conservan amistades – settled accounts maintain friendships.

 

Guatemalan Dicho for Spoiling your Grandkids

Throughout my childhood, for many summers I tried (unsuccessfully) to communicate with my uncle Edgar’s parents.  Don Chepe and Doña Uba would come to the US for a few weeks at a time to be with their two sons (Edgar and Alfredo) and their families in the United States.  After 23 months in Nicaragua, it’s a dream to visit them in their home in Guatemala and to be able to fully connect.  Of course, I’m trying to learn as many Guatemalan dichos as possible.  Here is one I learned on the first night:

La abuela alcahueta – The push-over grandma

In addition to being heart-meltingly precious, Doña Uba also has a soft-spot for her grandkids.  So much so, that anything they ask her, she gives them.  Abuela, buy me a toy?  Abuela, give me a candy? Abuela, make a puzzle with me?  The abuela alcahueta is powerless, and adorable, in front of her nietos. 🙂