So… Nicaragua. We’ve been here for about 5 days now and we’re all ready to go back. We’ve heard over and over again that “Costa Rica es diferente” and now we see how true that is, CR is way different than what we’ve experienced here. One thing is, Nicaraguans don’t pronounce the s at the end of words. This makes all the words blur together. Its hard to explain but its like they don’t fully close their mouth ever and end a word so everything just gets muddled up. Its very soothing to listen to, a little too soothing when you’re exhausted and sitting in a stagnant suffocating hot room. It has been a struggle to pay attention when receiving lectures from Nicaraguans, but more on that later.
Not sure how much you know about Nicaraguan geography but we’ve been staying in the capitol, Managua. On Monday we went to visit another major city, Granada. In the morning we went on a boat ride in Lake Nicaragua, the biggest lake in Central America. There were lots of beautiful views but the lake itself was filthy. It is so contaminated it was a brownish green color- not pretty. The worst thing was we saw multiple people swimming/fishing in the water. Everything in me cringes at the thought of letting that water touch my skin but I guess its no big deal for them.
After lunch in the city we were given 3 hours to just walk around the city. It was a little frustrating because I was exhausted and not feeling well. I think I caught some kind of bug from the water or something. We have all been trying to be super careful but sometimes it still gets ya. Anyways, we looked around at the street vendors but didn’t see anything we wanted, walked around looking at the architecture (it’s the oldest city in Nicaragua). Four of us decided to cave in and pay to take a horse drawn carriage tour around the city. We got to hear a lot more about the history of the city (it has a lot to do with William Walker). Making conversation with the driver I asked if it’s difficult to learn to drive the horses and he said “no, wanna try?” (except in Spanish) and I was like “uh, yeah!” So I drove the carriage the rest of the way! It was fun; the horses basically already knew where they were going so I mostly just had to let them lead but I would steer them away from potholes so I was pretty proud of myself!
Tuesday- the good day
Tuesday was the best day. We spent our morning in the dump and let me tell you it was disgusting. There was trash everywhere and little kids flocked to us. I think at one point all of us had a kid in our arms as we toured their home. Mine was a little girl in a dirty pink skirt named Cassandra. She was 8 years old. When she saw the water bottle of one of the boys she pointed and asked for it and when he gave it to her she drank for a good 30 seconds without stopping, as though she hadn’t had anything to drink in quite some time. It is unbelievably hot in Nicaragua and the dump was possibly the hottest place, despite the fact that it had already rained that morning which usually cools things down.
In stark contrast, we went straight to our second mall in Nicaragua right after seeing some of the worst poverty I’ve ever seen. This was a really nice mall too, apparently it was to show us the difference of life in Nicaragua but it just made most of us go numb. As we were sitting in the mall I decided to plan the 9-9:15 Party. I’d been thinking of having one and I just decided that if I wanted to have a fun time in Nicaragua I needed to stop complaining about what we’re doing and make the fun myself. Jessie, Hannah, Nathan and I went to the party store we had seen earlier and bought supplies for our Christmas in July themed party.
We picked that theme because for some reason there are Christmas decorations all over here. We think its because there is an election coming up and Daniel Ortega (the current president) wants everyone to remember that Nicaragua is a “Christian” nation (because then no one can start a smear campaign calling him a Marxist). There is tons of propaganda like that here- its insane. There are billboards, posters and bumper stickers all supporting Daniel, not to mention all the graffiti. “Viva Daniel” “Viva la revolución” and “FSLN” (his political party) are everywhere.
After the mall and then lunch came my favorite part of the day, if not the trip in general. We went to the Villa Esperanza (hope) which is a ministry that reaches out to the girls in the dump that we had visited earlier that day. It was shockingly beautiful. They have about 20 girls living with them now who have all had difficult lives living in the dump. Many have experienced sexual abuse and some have had to deal with other tragedies as well. For example, a pair of sisters there lost their father to AIDS and their mother is slowly dying of the disease as well.
The Villa is currently attempting to become self-sufficient so they have chickens that the girls look after as well as a garden and fish that they grow for food. All the girls have chores as well as schooling that they must do. Its not an easy life for them, as the Villa is attempting to prepare them for what won’t be an easy life when they are out in the real world, but it is much better than where they came from. It was hard to know that they could only help 20 girls now. Even though I know that makes a huge difference, its hard not to think about all the other girls left in the high risk situations. But I know that the program works on reaching out to the families of the girls and the community in general, in partnership with the local church there, so they are doing a lot of good, even if its not in huge leaps and bounds.
The Villa has a set of rooms that they rent out to guests to bring in some money. Apparently, our original plan was to stay there, which would have involved a lot of mission work as their guests usually work with the girls as well as other programs in the surrounding neighborhood. Unfortunately, another group already took the week of our trip. It was so frustrating to know what the trip could have been. We all thought that we were going to be doing mission work here, that is what Profe told us, but instead we haven’t done anything except learn about all the problems here. It was nice to know that he had the same idea as us but so annoying to know that his lack of follow through caused us to need the inferior “plan b”. I’m just taking comfort in the fact that the next group that does this trip, when it is better planned, will be able to do all the mission work we had hoped to do. Its sad to just watch the poverty and pain and then walk on, without doing anything to help.
This is all I have time for now, but when I return from dinner I will try to finish up Wednesday and today!
love and God's blessings to you,