Written Thursday, June 27
Today we left Granada and are starting a new phase of our trip. We have finished Spanish classes and technical classes and are on to working in the hospital we have been assigned.
This past month has been an incredible experience. I have gotten the opportunity to live in Nicaragua and really understand their daily lives and culture. This obviously had good and bad parts to it. Anything from sitting on the porch with our family as the sun goes down or playing with their kids, to hearing of armed robberies weekly. For example, a friend of mine from our group was walking home last night with a group of five average sized guys and they all got jumped, but Lucas got caught up and was hit with multiple rocks and they took his shirt, wallet and belt and was in the hospital all night.
Disclaimer- I don’t include that to worry people, but to make light of the culture. I know of many people who have been approached by men with knives or rocks and been mugged. But that comes with living in a city and living in a foreign country. It also is part of the territory of being a foreigner. We are obviously targeted as a group for crime, begging, vendors, etc.
On top of the stressing about safety, this month has been very emotionally and mentally trying. I was thrown into a foreign place…with a language I didn’t know much of…with people I had never met before. But success stories in all areas. I really felt comfortable and welcome in Nicaragua shortly after arriving. My Spanish has improved marginally. And of course- I fell into quick and entertaining friendships with some amazing people. I love situations like this where I am forced to meet people and befriend people that I wouldn’t naturally cling to in a normal environment. None of my friends here are even closely similar to any of my close friends at home, which just goes to show what an open mind can do for someone. Not everything has been rosy and happy though. I have dabbled in homesickness, culture shock, and identity crises. Being in such a strange environment has really been shining a light on my strengths, but more importantly my weaknesses. Which is never really a pleasant time.
Overall, this past month has shaped me into a generally stronger, more capable and more flexible person. I have learned a ton and have left a large part of my heart in the city of Granada.
“An adventurous life does not necessarily mean climbing mountains, swimming with sharks or jumping off cliffs. It means risking yourself by leaving a little piece of you behind in all those you meet along the way.”
The goal is to successfully have an adventurous trip. I think I have definitely left part of me with my host family in Granada and a few other Nicaraguans that I met along the way (Spanish teachers and coffee shop workers). I am also fully confident that I will make even more connections and friendships in Diriamba as well.
So looking forward:
Today, as mentioned before, our group left Granada and spread across the east half of Nicaragua. Charlotte and I moved to Diriamba. We got here just before noon today and got to see the hospital that we will be working in for the next month. We then came to our new homestay, which is incredible! The house is stunning, our mom is a sassy Nicaraguan pediatrician who was strutting around the house in heals and tight jeans and a leopard patterned shirt today. She has a daughter who is 22 and hasn’t come home yet, so we haven’t met her. And she also has a lady named Carlita who cooks and helps around the house. There are mango trees, banana trees and other unidentified fruit trees in the yard. A huge boxer-like guard dog named Tyler. The house is so tranquil and peaceful which is a switch up from our last house with 3 young, rowdy kiddos in it. Both have their perks obviously, but this house’s environment is a relaxing change. Upon arrival, while still stunned from the immensity of this house, we were served a beautiful meal of rice with beet strips on it, chicken with some sort of gravy-like sauce cooked with onions, peppers and carrots and tostones (fried plantains). It was delicious, breathtaking really.
Then we decided to go explore the town some and get a feel for the land. It took me all of fifty seconds to fall in love with it. The climate is cool, the town is the perfect size, and people are so friendly. Today there was a constant breeze as we walked around, we were able to pretty much walk from one side of town to the other (we think), and the people we so much nicer than in Granada. Granada is touristy and the people there have a general distaste for visitors sometimes and usually dismiss you or just stare blankly at you, both of which make you feel generally uncomfortable. But walking around today was a total difference. People smiled at us and were helpful. Plus we had a pretty lengthy conversation with the storeowner, Michael, about our reasoning for being here and our lives. He was genuinely interested and so wonderful.
-----PAUSE: Charlotte quote: “Ya know what I wish I had right now? A pregnant belly to rest my book on.” How weird is she? So weird. But I just can’t help but love it. Okay, PLAY-----
So overall, Granada was an amazing time. Spending everyday with a group of really fun people and learning all about Nicaragua and preparing for this month. But now the time is here, to show our stuff and make last month count. I am so excited to start working here and really try to make a difference in this hospital.
Cheers to adventure and leaving as much of myself behind in Diriamba as I can!