I will be monitoring Nicaragua and Guatemala from now on, but my first post is focused on Nicaragua because I just spent ten days there. I stayed at a farm called Rancho Ebenezer with a work brigade that went in and helped the farm and surrounding communities by painting houses, installing electric wires, teaching the women how to sew clothing, and caring for the worker’s children. It was an incredible experience!

On the flight in to Managua, I took this photo of a volcano smoking beneath us:

I don’t know for sure, but considering how close we were to Managua, my guess is that this volcano is Masaya.

While I was there, we walked to a school near where we were living and on the walk back, I saw this:

I got really excited thinking that the two light layers may have been volcanically related, perhaps a pumice or ash deposit, partially because of the way it looked, but also the way it crumbled when I touched it. I asked my professor, Dr. Klemetti, and he agrees that it is probably ash. To give you a frame of reference, the thicker layer of ash was probably about six inches thick.

During my stay, I talked with a couple of people about their experiences living near volcanoes. The first man I spoke to was Dr. Irvin, who is an American missionary who has been in Nicaragua for nearly five years. When I asked him what it was like leaving a volcanically dead zone in the U.S. to a fairly active area in Nicaragua, he laughed a little and said he doesn’t mind at all. He told me that he sleeps through the tremors at his house in Managua, and he tends not to worry about eruptions when he is working in the mountains. Dr. Irvin left me with the following statement: “Everyone has to die at some point, why worry?” and then mentioned how “cool” it would be to die in a volcanic eruption. That certainly wasn’t the response I expected.

The second person I spoke with was our translator, Faran. He has lived in Nicaragua his entire life and he said that he (and everyone he knows) doesn’t even notice the little eruptions that occur on a regular basis. Basically, the answer I got from him was that they are so used to it that it is not a big deal like it would be for a small town Ohioan like me.

Starting next week, I will be giving regular updates on the volcanic activity in my region, but I wanted to share my personal experiences first!

Zara Holderman
March 7, 2011


8 Responses to “Nicaragua!”

  1. A good start by giving a personal aspect of the region you are going to cover!

    Maybe next time you’ll take some ziplock bags with you to collect samples of ash, so you can subject them to analysis, microscope & chemical…

    • zaradaula Says:

      That’s a great idea. I hadn’t expected to see anything like I did…we were actually just visiting a local school and got lost on the way back. If I go again next year, I will definitely be more prepared!

  2. Alan Bates Says:

    Hello Zara

    Please read my comments on Priya’s post. What you have here is not scientific writing but you have raised my interest. I enjoyed this introduction to what I hope will be a series of interesting articles.

    To achieve the purpose of the assignment, you now have to move on.

    For future reference, when you next take a close-up photo, try to find a standard scale: a coin, a pen/biro, geological hammer, printed plasticised scale (available cheaply and graduated in cm or inches), a lenscap, compass or compassclinometer. Almost anything will do – the printed scale is ldeal – that is what you are paying for.

    Then consider whether it is worth annotating the picture – I presume the white band towards the bottom is volcanic ash but where is the other? You saw it, you could see the texture and relief which is lost to the viewer – give us a clue in future, even if you think it is obvious.

    Did you have a field notebook with you? Carry one at all times and you can have all of this accurately noted down. The notebook could, of course, be your reference size!

    • zaradaula Says:

      I didn’t have a field notebook because science wasn’t the purpose of my trip, but thanks for the suggestions!

  3. Alan – the blog entries are a little more at the discretion of the author in terms of tone, so they may be more or less scientific in style. Erik

  4. Zara, you took a very important step for every blogger: you replied to comments where you deemed they need a reply.

    One reason for Dr. Klemetti’s blog’s popularity is the interaction between participants – and the author of a blog entry is very much a participant!

    • zaradaula Says:

      I wholeheartedly agree that participation and interaction with the author is key to a successful piece of writing, no matter what the medium. Thanks!

  5. Alan Bates Says:

    Thank you for your comment on style, Dr Klemetti. I will keep it in mind.

    Zara. Yes, I realise science was not the orginal purpose but a field note book is well worth keeping with you now you are studying.

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