Nicaragua

Nicaragua was a life changing adventure and an experience that I will never forget. Though this post has been ready on my computer for MANY weeks now, I have been slow to publish it simply because I don’t feel like I am able to capture the magnitude of my 6 days. I decided, though, that I’ll never be happy with this post so today is the day!

After spending a short 2 weeks in Curridabat, Costa Rica, my school (ICADS) took a 6 day field trip to Nicaragua to explore the culture as well as examine the differences and similarities between Costa Rica and Nicaragua. It is incredible that though the two countries border each other, they are two very separate worlds.

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While there, we…

–          visited Managua, Matagalpa, Leon, San Ramon

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Managua

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Coming into Matagalpa from San Ramon

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Downtown Matagalpa

–          Saw the ruins of the dictatorship and a museum dedicated to Sandinista (which is located in the ruins of the dungeon)

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–          visited and toured a coffee cooperation

–          saw a native village, complete with a very rare library, and went on a “black diamond hike” (shoutout to Julie!) where we rock climbed, trekked a mile through ankle deep mud and I got lost with a couple other people resulting in walking for 20 minutes through knee deep water! It was actually more fun than it sounds

–          saw an exploded volcano which is now a lake

–          interviewed banana plantation workers who have been severely impacted by the poisonous chemicals once used to treat banana trees

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Government built housing for ex-plantation workers

–          Walked on the ground which once supported a massive revolution

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–          Learned about ALBA and the work it does

I will always cherish my Nicaraguan family. Though I was there for 4 short days, their impact on my life was massive. My mother was 73 and was one of the most loving and welcoming people I have ever met. She lived in the same house that she was born in, grew up in, and had her family in. Her husband passed away 6 years ago and now she is raising her 5 year old grandson, Steven, with the help of a live-in nanny. Steven’s mother is somewhere in Spain currently and from what I gathered, she went there because of job opportunities. Steven does not remember his mom and knows her only through pictures- she left when he was less than a year old. I am still unsure if she left because there was no work in Nicaragua (this is not unusual in the least) or if she left in order to start over since she had a baby at such a young age. It could also be a combination of the both. At that point, my Spanish was fairly lacking and so my comprehension was pretty low. Also any time my mother and I had a serious talk, torrential rain was pounding into our tin roof. Seriously. Every. Time.

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My bed, complete with mosquito net and Cars blanket 🙂

Our house was minimal- our walls did not attach the roof so even though there were walls and door to separate the different rooms, it was all under the same roof. We also each slept under our own mosquito net- a commodity I greatly appreciated. Even so, I got SO many bites. Perhaps the most interesting and economically telling aspect of the house was the shower. While there was an area that was clearly supposed to be a shower, the shower head did not work and there was never any hot water. Instead, there was freezing cold water which came from a faucet that poured into a trash can bin. In the bin full of water, there was a scoop so that you could pour the freezing cold water on yourself to wash. This worked if you were willing to wash one extremity at a time and place the rest of your body into the wrath of the various mosquitos that hung out in the shower waiting for the moment you least expected a bite. Among many other lessons, this trip made me appreciate indoor plumbing, hot and potable water.

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Our living room- loved the rocking chairs! Many times, when people would get home late, they would come over to our house for a hot meal and access to TV.

This trip was incredible, although very hard for a lot of people. Many of my friends got extremely ill from unknowingly eating food that had been washed by contaminated water. It was also hard for each of the families we stayed with. Though they were paid, I am sure that it is not easy to open up your home to a stranger for 4 days and offer up all that you have to them. With that said, this trip was truly the perfect example of happiness without wealth. Our Nicaraguan families had so very little, and yet they offered everything they had to us and were most importantly, some of the happiest people I have ever met. My mother was so sweet, loving and welcoming to all who entered her home and for that I will forever be thankful. Even remembering her now brings tears to my eyes. How lucky I am to know her.

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Waving goodbye to my Nicaraguan mother

I learned so many things about Nicaragua, about the people who inhabit the country and about myself. It was a beautiful, hard, eye-opening and life changing experience. 6 days of my life that I will never forget.

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Headed back home to Costa Rica. 19 hour ride.

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Re-entering Costa Rica. Until next time, Nicaragua….

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