by Abigail, Tufts 1+4 Participant
We’re here! And it feels crazy… Plus a lot of other emotions. If I said I didn’t have a moment of “why am I doing this?!?!” I’d be lying. The night we landed, that was definitely running through my mind. But after a few days I am confident that I made the right decision. León is great, the other volunteers are great, the people we’ve met are great, and the food is great. My Spanish? Ehhh. But I’m working on it!
So far what we’ve done is mostly training. We eat breakfast at the hostel, then go to our regional director Mateo’s house in the morning. We’ve gone over almost everything, from Nicaraguan texting to going about our CBIPs. For lunch we’ve gone to two restaurants that serve large plates of traditional food (breakfast and lunch are big meals here, whereas dinner is much lighter). Lunch has consisted of rice and beans, our choice of meat, and salad or a plantain. And juice of course! Between our lunches and dinners, I’ve tasted the limonada, sandía, arroz con piña, and today calala, which is passion fruit. My favorites have to be sandía (watermelon) and calala. Some of the other volunteers also tried pithaya (dragon fruit) which is a crazy bright color and also very delicious. But enough about juices! After lunch we switch it up and finish training on the hostel balcony, which has a beautiful view. At night we’ve gone to dinner with a couple of Nicaraguans (the first night they were my host parents!), so we can practice Spanish and ask questions about León. Each night our Spanish has improved, but we get very tired after concentrating on what people are saying!
Yesterday was super fun because we had a scavenger hunt, and got to explore the city a little bit! It’s so beautiful in the afternoon when the sun hangs low. The buildings are colorful and the narrow sidewalks are bustling with people: children in uniforms, students who attend UNAN, and even some tourists around the central square. The cathedrals are huge, gaudy, and gorgeous. There’s scaffolding on the front of the main cathedral, but even then it maintains its grandeur. There’s a park with a fountain and wifi in front of this cathedral, which is also the place to get raspado. Raspado is basically shaved ice (shaved right in front of you) with a syrup poured over the top. The one I had was pink and very sweet, but I’m not totally sure what it was. It tasted kind of like honey and something else. I was surprised by how close everything is here! I look forward to exploring more because there are so many things to do and see in León!
Last night after dinner was definitely a highlight: salsa dancing! Although none of us can dance salsa, we had a great time pretending and watching other people dance.
All in all, it’s been a tiring but awesome fist few days here. It is so different from my home in Idaho in so many ways. There so much more going on 24/7, that Sun Valley seems so sleepy in comparison. There are going to be a lot of new things to adapt to, and though it’s hard to decipher all of the emotions going through my head, my spirits are high all in all.