The Healing Sickness

By Linnea Otto

Ever since graduation this spring, I have been struggling to accept that my childhood is over now. I am so lucky to have had such a positive life growing up, that I have been having a tough time letting it go. Diving headfirst into another country seemed like the most abrupt path into adulthood that I could imagine. I have to work like an adult, take care of myself, walk around the city by myself, go shopping by myself, etc. That really terrified me. However, as like most expectations, this has been (pleasantly) shot down. I’m not reliving my childhood, but I haven’t had to completely fend for myself in a forest of vicious adults by any means. 

Just when I was feeling lonely earlier this week, reassurance of the presence of helpful people in my life unexpectedly came in the form of a fever and a cold. I was feeling absolutely miserable because I didn’t know what to do and I just wanted my mom to sit by my bed and take care of me. Unfortunately, I’m a little too old for that kind of service, but I was surprised that everyone around me took care of me in their own ways. Our in-country staff member called and texted me to check up on me and took me to the clinic. She offered for me to sit down when there was only one chair and held my purse while the nurse did tests. After the clinic visit, we could have walked two blocks to get to a bigger street, but since I looked a little bit like I might crumble if the wind picked up, she hailed the taxi from right outside the clinic. When I got home, my host mom made me hot soup and made sure I took my medicine. The other fellows texted me to see how I was doing. My host sister (age 6) made sure that the fan was always pointed directly at me and even gave me a princess sticker. A few days later I felt better so I stopped by Brenna and Nadia’s houses, and both of their host families asked if I was feeling better. When I returned to Spanish class, the teacher gave me a recipe for a healing tea. Those gestures were nothing grand, but they were exactly what I needed. Nobody offered me a flippant “feel better!”- instead they did whatever they could to reassure me that I am not alone. Much to my pleasure, I wasn’t a solitary inhabitant of an island. Being sick wasn’t the most fun way to feel the strength of love around me, but it definitely was effective.

Stories About My Time In Nicaragua: In 2 Parts

By Nadia Rosales

I have been having a hard time, lately, in deciphering how I feel, why I feel that way, and dealing with the inevitable aftermath. This experience has given as many valleys as it has mountains. I’ve teared up thinking about staying a whole other 8 months as much as I’ve teared up thinking about eventually having to leave. As a result, I have had to fall back on various coping methods I know well. Some have worked out fantastic, and some have not. Some cost money, and some are just better decisions than others. One of the methods I keep using without even really trying to do so is that of expressing myself through written word.

lovely, lovely, lovely, lovely, lovely, lovely,
sugar sweet soft skinny sickly suave
honey yielding tender flesh
baby doll glass-eyed twinkling
sparkle                *        !

are you busy? are you going?
can you answer?

girl come back
girl come
girl is you hungry
girl is you wanting
girl is you is you is you
will you will you will you
are you are you are you
smiling smile mine

me, dream come true, sit awhile
i can show you God
Destroyer of Worlds, Sin Punisher
i can show you sharpened teeth

who will i who will i who will i
all the coins are silver
and in the broken mirror, shine
the drip drip drips on my shoes
but you can spit shine those
you can be my payment
you can be my sugar, neighbor,
have you any sugar
for me

for me the law is resold
bought with empty pockets
show me your claws girl

girl don’t close your eyes

girl i want my pound of flesh
and this tongue is the scale

come a little closer
stay a little longer
walk a little slower
smile a little wider

Buenas is my middle name

estoy bien señor
sugar sweet sun-burnt sap

g o n e

welcome home
alone                living?                here                viva jodido

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In Defense of Traveling Alone

by John Lazur

My day to day life isn’t a constant battle anymore: I’m officially one month into my bridge year. I’ve settled in with my host family, and I’ve started working full-time at my internship. It isn’t that my life comes easily at this point, but I have reached a point where I want to push myself a little bit further to see where it takes me. So, a couple weeks ago, I threw myself into an uncomfortable situation: traveling to Matagalpa alone.

The rest of the group planned to go up Thursday morning, but I opted to go a night early. Part of me didn’t want to wake up at 3:30 AM to catch the 4 o’clock bus, and another part of me looked forward to trying it alone. I wanted to show myself that I could manage a bus ride with my Spanish skills, and see what that experience would be like. People have always told me, “Growth happens when you’re uncomfortable,” what better opportunity than traveling alone?

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Trip Reflection Sandwich

by Nadia Rosales

This is a story about a jungle, some buses, ugly men, my absolute resolve to have the worst time possible, and a bus stop.

This is a story about learning to expect nothing; expect with an open heart, mind, and hands.

This weekend, I took my first out-of-city trip with the other León kids to Macizo de Peñas Blancas. We first learned of the nature reserve from our in-country staff, Luis. It was hard not to be enamored by the picture painted: a sprawling jungle full of Nicaragua’s native flora and fauna, a hike to the top of a waterfall for amazing views, and hiking through a river! It sounded like the perfect plan, and really, how could it go wrong?

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Semana Santa

by Sawyer Uecke

Being in León was a spectacular way to carry out the final moments of Semana Santa. Liveliness fills the streets, and one can sense the national Nicaraguan pride that shines in the grin of many. I was fortunate enough to have the opportunity to participate in a near century year old tradition with the family of my best friend, Isidro. His family lives on “La Calle de las Alfombras”, where each year several families sweep the streets, sell sweets, and, most of all, make beautiful murals made out of sawdust called alfombras, or rugs. In the evening, thousands of people come to gaze at the various murals created, all with their own special touch. The process can be long and brutal in the hot sun, but it was quite a surprise to see how simple it is, with such magnificent pieces of art as the final product. I am no artist, but the fellow neighbors who have been doing this art since youth were more than willing to teach me the proper techniques.

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