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Today's Geography Lesson
Volcanoes of Nicaragua


Did you know that Nicaragua is home to 19 volcanoes? In a country just a bit larger than Ohio, that is a dominating presence. Our first view of one was on the road to Leon; I made our chauffer bus driver stop for a picture of the beautiful Momotombo (and his friend Momotombito).

Volcanoes remained in the background for the rest of our stay in Nicaragua, and I was able to capture a few photographs on our flight back to the U.S.

A few interesting facts:
  • In 1610, the Momotombo volcano erupted, destroying the capital. It was rebuilt northwest of what is now known as the Ruins of Old León.
  • The Cerro Negro volcano was formed less than 160 years ago (in 1850) and that makes it the youngest volcano of Central America.
  • You are welcome to climb many of the volcanoes, if you are the adventurous type.
That's all.

~Alex

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-Conventional traffic rules are for the weak.

-Food prepared in an ant and fly-infested kitchen with limited sanitary measures is more pleasing to the digestive system than food from a Nicaraguan hotel's restaurant.

-Spending a week with people that live in shacks with dirt floors, no indoor plumbing, and limited medical care makes the movie Marley and Me seem fairly irrelevant. (Also, Owen Wilson speaking Spanish is slightly disorienting.)

-Throwing money at a problem is not always the best way to solve it.

-"First house on the right after you turn left by the tortilla stand next to the church" is a legitmate address.

-Limiting carbs is next to impossible in a developing nation. (It would actually be undesirable anyway, since they are the only viable delivery method for Salsa Lizano.)

-We can't help where we are born, whether in America or elsewhere, so we might as well embrace it and make the most of the situation we find ourselves in.

Sonja

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Nicaragua.

A country of beautiful beaches,

of delightful people,
and of economic hardship.
A country that is the second-poorest in the Western hemisphere, behind Haiti.

A country that we visited a few weeks ago on a mission trip through the Nicaragua Resource Network (NRN), an Indianapolis-based non-profit with a heart to serve the Nicaraguan people.

We spent the week participating in NRN's vision in a small fishing village on the coast called Poneloya. Our team, comprised of 7 Indy residents, a founder of NRN, Cecil Campbell, and our Nicaraguan translator, Aaron, worked in Poneloya on various construction projects and activities with the children and youth of Agua Viva church.

We built some walls,

painted,

served 100 children lunch for $100,

put plans in place for a gardening cooperative,

ate lobster for lunch and dinner on the same day,

modeled in several photo shoots,

scared children to tears with a skit,

learned to make rice and beans,

and made lots of new friends.

We found the Nicaraguan people we met to be beautiful, gracious, and welcoming.

Our team members were also inspirational in their hearts for serving others, as well as their unique talents and personalities.

In talking with our team members, we explored such questions as what is "need"? How are we called to respond when we see a need? How does our American culture interfere in the way we perceive a need, and the way we feel that it should be filled? How do we determine to how best use our money and resources to help people?

We are still exploring these questions, among others, that were spawned by the trip, and considering how the experience has and will shape us.

Many thanks to the Nicaraguan people for receiving us so graciously and to all the volunteers that make NRN's vision a reality.

Click here for our complete set of photos from the trip.
Sonja

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Did I mention that we were going to Nicaragua? We're going on a mission trip with our church through a non-profit called Nicaragua Resource Network. We're pretty excited about it!

And oh yeah - we're leaving on Saturday! We have barely gotten to settle in after our trip to Minnesota. However, in the short time that we've been home, we did manage to reorganize our entire kitchen to fit our new gadgets and dishes (as well as find a place for the new glass bowls above - thanks, sis!).

How dorky are you when you get intense pleasure out of organizing and alphabetizing your spices? Feel free to post a comment to let us know, but I feel supremely excited about this new and ergonomic way to access my favorite flavas.

Thanks to my parents, we are now proud owners of a full set of white dishes to provide a suitable canvas for our food artistry (chipped stoneware just did not do the trick).

Their maiden voyage was this wonderful meal we made today for Alex's dad and stepmom for our Christmas celebration. This seared tuna with ponzu sauce recipe was incredibly tasty, super easy, and very quick to put together.


I think I could make this every night and not get tired of it! We also served stir fried veggies:


and five spice roasted pears with sesame seeds, which we made previously and loved. It was a healthy and stress-free meal that I'm looking forward to making again.

We're looking forward to serving in Nicaragua...and unfortunately the fishing village that we'll be visiting happens to be on the Pacific coast :)

Hope you had a good New Year's - here's to a great 2009!

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The Eskimos had 52 names for snow because it was important to them; there ought to be as many for love."
-Margaret Atwood

 


Extra Pale, ESB, Pilsener, IPA, Porter, Maibock, Hefeweizen, Winter Ale, Oatmeal Stout
Well, I don't know about love, but the Summit Brewing Company was featuring nine names for beer during our wintry trek to St. Paul. They offer free tours of the brewery every Tuesday and Thursday - if I lived in town, I might have to go once a week!


Acting all Minnesotan-like, the Kuhnau family ignored the forecasted inches of snow and arrived at the brewery several minutes before the tour, dreaming of free samples to come. Adjacent to the waiting area, these two copper kettles made for an exciting beer-y view.


The tour itself was short but fun. We learned all about barley and malt and mash and yeast and fermenters and oxidation and bottles and kegs and such. The tour only featured two rooms, but they were heavy on the stainless steel and machinery - very impressive.

After the tour we returned to the waiting area for our three free samples. Much to our surprise, the samples were generous portions of the nine beers on tap. Between the six of us, we managed to sample every one!

After stopping by the giftshop for a glassware purchase, we returned to the blustery cold. We may have four more weeks before we can even talk about groundhogs and spring, but at least we were able to have a "cold one" to keep us warm for an afternoon.
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We're just back from the annual trek to Minnesota to spend Christmas with my family. And trek it was indeed - due to freezing rain, the drive up took us 14 hours instead of the usual 10, which put us in at 5 am on Christmas Eve morning. Thankfully, it was all uphill from there! We had a great visit with the family.


A highlight of our stay was a trip to Saudi Arabia. No, we did not actually fly to the Middle East. But we look like we could have, don't we?

My sister had the idea that we would have a "staycation" to Saudia Arabia, which meant watching the movie Lawrence of Arabia and cooking lots of delicious Saudi Arabian food. It sounded like a great idea to us (especially the part about food)!


Our meal included beef and herb khoresh and stuffed eggplant,


oranges in syrup,

and omm ali (a dessert made with filo dough, nuts and raisins),


all of which were recipes from an Around the World in 450 Recipes cookbook, which found its way from the Border's discount rack to my sister's Christmas gift (of course, I couldn't buy it for her without buying one for myself).


And yes, my mother insisted on the Arabic garb. My dad's ensemble was his Halloween costume from the 80s. (It always feels nice to get multiple uses out of these items; did you see my Halloween costume from this year?)



If you're wondering, Lawrence of Arabia was 4 hours of long, desolate treks through the desert sand. Fairly informative, though.

Another highlight of the vacation was our tour of the Summit Brewery in Saint Paul, which I'll let Alex describe.

We also had a great time relaxing with family, eating, checking out this French cafe (very cute and indie for being in Eagan), enjoying my sister's first time home since she left for her internship in Munich (click here for her intensely amusing blog), and being entertained by Luna. She was quite a hit with the fam!
Hope you had a great holiday as well!
~Sonja