“You get a strange feeling when you about to leave a place, I told him, like you’ll not only miss the people you love, but you’ll miss the person you are now at this time and this place, because you’ll never be this way ever again.” -Azar Nafisi
I read that quote while I was on Isla de Ometepe and it felt so true. It was a wonderful week of my life, without responsibilities. Nicaragua was a beautiful, cheap and friendly country that welcomed us around every corner. There was an interesting mix of the old and new. One of my friends spent a bus ride talking to a mom and her daughter in Spanish. When they got up the girl looked at her and said in perfect English “Happy 4th of July, its trending on Twitter today.”
The people in Nicaragua were so nice. There was only one time I felt even a tiny bit unsafe and the restaurant owner escorted out the man. One of our drivers, Monolo, told us that because the government was/is so corrupt and stole so much from the people, that now as it is slowly improving, stealing is one of the most despicable crimes in the eyes of the people. I never even felt as if someone eyed my bag. Everyone we met was willing to talk, share about their lives and their homeland.
I had a half hour conversation with a man on the bus about the education system in Nicaragua and other random things (talk about a stretch for my Spanish!). The children only go to school for half a day, because there is not space for all of them to attend at once. The younger children went in the morning and the older students in the afternoon. I know that this may sound like a better deal, because we have all wanted to not sit in classes as long, but think of how much more education we are able to get because we can attend school for a full day. It really is a privileged to attend school as we do and to have the classroom resources that are available.
I met a woman who lives in Germany, but is here working on building a hydroelectric plant here. She works 14 hour days, some others work longer. But she said “but it is so fun, everyone is always joking. The people here are so happy.” Wow, to have such a great outlook after working that long is unbelievable! I have seen a strong work ethic time and time again both in Nicaragua and Costa Rica. Yes, chores may not be pleasant, but try using a machete to cut the grass in your front yard or having to break up the old cement in a drive way using basically a spear (I saw both these chores being done these ways).
Common courtesy is yet another ideal I saw in many people. When I needed a taxi and would approach a waiting line of cars from the end, the last car in line will tell you to go to the first car, who has been waiting the longest for a passenger. Obviously not everyone in Central America works hard, doesn’t steal, and is always polite, but I was blessed to meet some wonderful people on my trip.
There were so many great memories I couldn’t capture with my camera. Two sisters doing laundry by hand in the river, a dad lifting his boy up onto the back of his motorcycle and kissing him, a group of children playing ball in their yard, and an old woman face full of wrinkles smiling a huge smile as we drove past. These memories will stay with me and I hope to return again.