how do you write about an experience that changed your life? how do you write about an experience that opened your eyes wider and made you take bigger breaths than ever before? how do you write about an experience that showed you what you already knew deep down inside?
i don’t know. i really don’t. but i’m going to try to write something today about my time in nicaragua. it may be jumbled and all over the place, but so is my mind.
we all process differently. some of us cried when leaving the community. some of us cried at dinner on our last night. and some of us cried on our couches the evening we got back.
i cried on my couch last night.
because i may never see my little host sister’s, janiccia’s, smile again. because i may never get a good morning hug from her.
because i may never see my host sister, angelica, run over with a message from my host grandmother.
because i may never see my host brother, kevin, draw another cowboy.
because i may never see my host grandmother, Selena, in her element as she moved around the kitchen.
and that makes me sad. really f**king sad.
whenever i thought about going to nicaragua, i thought about building the school. i rarely thought about the people i’d be interacting with. i think this is because i was nervous about not being able to communicate well and nervous about how i would react to my host family and home. of course building a school was important, is important, and i spent four hours a day helping to build it…and it was awesome.
but now it is the opposite. i think of the people first and the school later. i left the states thinking this trip was all about building a school and i returned home realizing it was all about my connections to the people i met, the family i became a part of, and to central america in general.
as soon as i landed in nicaragua, i felt calm.
all that anxiety i felt before was gone.
i felt oddly at peace…the entire trip. even when i couldn’t understand what was being said and sixteen-year-old boys laughed at me, even when i discovered i was allergic to fleas…the hard way, even when i was bathing in the bathing area and chickens would walk through, even when running to the latrine at three in the morning…at peace. at peace. at peace.
i loved it there.
i only wished i could share the experience with my loved ones from home.
and yet i was okay that they weren’t there to experience it with me.
i was okay. i enjoyed. i breathed in and out and enjoyed.
i enjoyed walking around the community, up and down hills, saying “hola” to everyone i passed. i enjoyed having conversations with the teenagers and adults, who found out i spoke enough spanish to have a slightly more complicated conversation. i enjoyed learning about why people moved to this community. i enjoyed telling the teenage boys about the states and how long and how much it cost to get there.
i enjoyed finding out on the work-site that people were calling me “la morena” (the brown or dark-skinned one) and that they had questions about my natural hair. i enjoyed teaching the kids uno and jenga. i enjoyed the strength of the moon to light up the night sky. i enjoyed sifting sand and preparing cement. i enjoyed my host grandmother’s cafe (coffee). i even enjoyed the frogs, roosters, and dogs that filled the night with noise.
and i learned. i learned about the community. i learned about my host family. i learned about myself.
this is what i’m still processing. still figuring out. but i will say that i felt more like myself walking up a hill with my host siblings running around me so that we could see the moon and the stars shine down on Las 40, the community we were living in…i felt more myself then than i do sitting here on this couch, staring at the piles of crap i don’t need but somehow own, this morning.
i felt more clearly what i want out of life. and while i can’t put it all into words to it right now, i can feel it in my chest.
some things are seeping out as intentions…not strict goals…but intentions i want to live and breathe in.
like i want to visit every country in central america. i feel so at home there…i don’t know why exactly…i’m sure it has to do with knowing and studying spanish and my boyfriend’s family being from there…but guatemala and nicaragua have stolen my heart and filled me up so i’m rolling with it.
like i want more play time…more coffee and conversation time…more laughs and smiles.
like i want less of a to-do list and more of a to-experience list. more of a connections list.
like i want to let things go and flow through me.
there are specific stories i’d like to share, but right now this feels right.
right now, i just have snapshots and feelings…
and the knowledge that this experience touched me deeply and came at the perfect time in my life…