Snapshots from Nicaragua


by Isabel, Tufts 1+4 Participant

I have been in Nicaragua exactly two months today and of the myriad of emotions, sounds, experiences, and images, these are five of the most prevalent.

1. A high five and a fist bump
From the very first day I arrived my host dad gave me a high five and a fist bump as a form of greeting whenever he saw me. Just came home from work? High five, fist bump. Sitting in the rocking chair reading, surrounded by the sounds of the television, honking horns, and chatting from the kitchen? High five, fist bump. Strolling around the park under a full moon with my two year old host niece’s plump hand clutched in mine, chatting about soccer and roller skating with my fifteen year old host sister? High five, fist bump. I have come to expect and look forward to this often multi-daily occurrence. To me it signifies my status as a part of the family – welcomed, accepted, and loved.
2. The brightly colored, tightly packed buildings softly shining in the afternoon light. 
I am fortunate enough to get the opportunity every day to walk along the streets as the afternoon turns into evening. And every day as I do I get to witness the magical hum of the city as it unwinds from work or school. Laughing teenagers in school uniforms stroll along the streets, passed by a never-ending stream of taxis, bicyclists, and horse carts. Venders on each corner sell everything from tortillas to fruit to candy. And as the sun approaches the horizon it just kisses the buildings, softening the sharp edges and lending an aura of tranquility to the whole scene.
3. The smiling faces of all the children I work with. 
Every week day I get up, and I eat a bowl of papaya and bananas for breakfast, and I head off to another hard day of work. Six long hours of wrangling unruly kids into doing their homework or playing games fairly, preventing crying and fighting at every turn. But, there are moments that make all the madness worth it – like when the sweetest little girl comes running up to me just to say ‘hi’ and give me a hug. Or when one girl decides she wants to do my hair. Or when it suddenly starts pouring and everyone is laughing dancing in the rain.
4. Chatting and laughter from the other volunteers
Whether it is simply meeting in a cafe to grab a quick smoothie after work, or going on an excursion together for three days, the other volunteers here have been incredibly supportive and understanding of everything we are going through. I can always count on them for a sympathetic ear or a quick laugh. In just a few short months I am so comfortable around them – a shared challenge will do that it seems. But regardless, I’m always happy to see them – on the street, in a workshop, or at the beach.
5. A flood of children walking into a room too small to hold all of them.
Another volunteer and I decided we wanted to teach English classes at a local extracurricular school. Our first day of class we were ready, armed with a lesson plan, posters of classroom expectations, and our own expectations that the class would hold ten students – fifteen at the most. None of that, however, could prepare us for what we found on arrival. A room full of children, more arriving every moment, all eagerly waiting our presumed expertise. Fifty two students showed up that day. Fortunately we later narrowed it down to about twelve, but I will never forget the feeling of helplessness as we faced the sea of children with no idea what we had just gotten ourselves into.

One Reply to “Snapshots from Nicaragua”

  1. Isabel-
    It’s great to hear about your life in Nicaragua. What a wonderful opportunity to serve and to experience. I’m looking forward to learning more, and following your adventures.

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