Christmas and Summer Vacation Rolled into One

Sometimes you’re just the sweetest thing. Like Christmas, summer vacation, and a brand-new puppy rolled into one. ~ Haruki Murakami

School is out! This year flew by so quickly. For children in Nicaragua, Christmas and summer vacation is rolled into one. The Nicaragua school season is from February 1st to December 1st. Like children all over the world, they eagerly look forward to Christmas and summer vacation, and in Nicaragua they celebrate them together.

Last week we had graduation ceremonies at our La Paloma Elementary school for preschool and sixth grade. This year, the promotion ceremonies were dedicated in remembrance of Daniel Garcia, the former sixth grade teacher who passed away last year.

The room was filled with balloons, flowers, flags, and symbols of pomp and circumstance, like the military march appropriately called Pomp and Circumstance that blared from the speakers.

Parents, grandparents, and family gathered to exchange pleasantries and fuss over their graduates.

And of course, no celebration would be complete without presents and lots of traditional dancing.

This week Maxwell, my school librarian, and I are cleaning, painting, and doing inventory in the library in preparation for our summer tutoring program which will start next week. Maxwell even washed the outside walls of the library!

It always amazes me how long it takes to return a classroom to some semblance of order. I told Maxwell that next school year we have to stress to the children the need to return the books and supplies to their proper places. I found opened glitter packs under the bookcases, candy wrappers used as book marks, and gecko eggs nested between books! UGH!

Two more days of cleaning and everything should be ready for summer school. My little library has been open for three years now. I am thrilled that the children are growing and developing a love of reading. Many of the students spend their recess in the library reading and playing games during their free time. The preschool class comes daily for story time and the older students use the library daily for research.

My goals for the new school year are: to get internet at the school ( We have an old tower on the roof of the school. All we need is a service provider, a dish, and a router. I am willing to buy the router and the dish if my service provider can be convinced to provide the service for free to help the children. Wish me luck! ), to develop programs that will encourage and motivate the children to read, to advertise for volunteers who will come to school to read to the children, and to teach the teachers how to use technology in their classrooms. We have a projector, a document reader, a laptop, printer, and speakers that the teachers can use for classroom instruction…all we lack is the internet.

I have always said that my little library is my place of solace. In the words of E. B. White;

A library is a good place to go when you feel unhappy, for there, in a book, you may find encouragement and comfort. A library is a good place to go when you feel bewildered or undecided, for there, in a book, you may have your question answered. Books are good company, in sad times and happy times, for books are people – people who have managed to stay alive by hiding between the covers of a book.

If you live on Ometepe Island or are visiting in December and January, please stop in to visit and read a story to the children. We are open 8-10 am Monday through Friday.

Happy reading to you!

11 thoughts on “Christmas and Summer Vacation Rolled into One

  1. So many reasons for the children of Ometepe island to celebrate at this time and I love your photo of the women in their traditional dresses! I can’t believe it’s been 3 years since you opened your library and hired Maxwell. As a child, I grew up near a library and remember going every week or two for new books. I may not remember the gifts I received at Christmas but I certainly remember many stories over the years that inspired me, made me think and entertained me. Learning to love reading is one of the biggest gifts you can give a person, Debbie and what you’ve accomplished on Ometepe is remarkable. Happy Holidays! Anita

    • Happy holidays to you and Richard, too. Anita. I am making brownies tomorrow to take to school on Monday. I hope to entice the kids who do come for special tutoring and reading with chocolate. lol It always works for me. I have never been one to brag about my accomplishments, but this library….oh this library is my legacy on Ometepe Island and I am so very proud of it.

  2. There is a bookstore in Vancouver called Banyen Books. They always have a supply of bookmarks (on simple beige lightweight cardstock) with famous (or should be famous) poetry and quotes, often with a design drawn on the bookmark with the poem or quote. I think most regular patrons of the bookstore collected these bookmarks and I still treasure and use the ones I have. I wonder if there’s a way to provide something similar for your students, to delight and inspire them?

    • Thanks, Janet. The blue and white are the traditional colors for the schools in Nicaragua. We just added a little more color to the front of the library when a group of volunteers came to help us. They had the kids dip their hands in paint and made a flower border around the bottom of the wall with their hands. It was so much fun, if not a little messy.

  3. Ohhh…. How fabulous , what a great way to do service work !!!
    A lovely school …. that may be hard to leave …if u decide to sell and move forward…awwwwwww….thats what happens ,, when your on the move , I know.
    I’m moving to Mexico in May , but will be shooting destination weddings here , there and everywhere as well . Looking forward to another NEW ADVENTURE…!!!!!

    If I get booked for a wedding near u I will make it a point to visit…would love to read a story and meet u!!!!
    Light to ya ,

    • Heidi, I can’t even begin to think about leaving right now. But should we decide to sell, Maxwell can take over easily. I set him up with a bank account and deposit his pay into it monthly. He is such a blessing to the kids and a perfect male role model for so many of the kids who live with single mothers. And yes!!! If you book a wedding in Nicaragua, we will definitely meet.

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