Enough clutter. Enough confusion. Enough complications.

23 January 2011

Viajar (to travel)

Traveling in Nicaragua is an interesting experience. Whether your rent a car and risk being stopped by the police, paying a few “taxes” or tickets, and navigating a confusing mess of roads or decide to brave the bus and taxi network, there are sure to be surprises. I recently had my first opportunity to do a bit of non work-related traveling. Over Christmas, my dad, brothers, and my brother's girlfriend came to visit me. Wanting them to have the most authentic experience possible, to see some interesting things but to get a bit of an idea of what my life here looks like, I decided we would travel exclusively via buses and taxis.
All in all, the decision worked out wonderfully. More often than not, our timing was usually good and we avoided waiting around for buses to show up. We only had to stand up for one or two trips. Only one person was pick-pocketed, and he wasn't carrying anything of use in that wallet. Our travels took us down south to climb volcanoes on the island of Ometepe and up north to lounge on nearly deserted beaches in Chinandega. The trip gave me a good opportunity to compare and contrast life in my site with life in some other parts of Nicaragua. Those reflections will probably come out in my posts over the next few months. At the moment, however, I am going to give my visitors a chance to express their thought about Nicaragua in a series of guest posts.

Enjoy the new perspective! Then come visit and contribute your own to the discussion!

(Mark Malacarne)

I am not entirely sure how I want to describe my trip to Nicaragua. With the stress of finals and being done at Lock Haven, it felt like before I even realized what was happening I was sitting in the airport ready for another adventure.  I hadn't even had to time to put
together expectations for what I was about to experience.  I was thrust into a world with rice and beans, cold showers, loud dogs, louder chickens, bamboo huts, crowded buses, littering, poverty,
undrinkable water, dirt floors, no cell phones (for me anyway), mediocre beer, and a language that, although I studied it for years, couldn't speak and barely understand.  But while these sound intimidating on paper, I wouldn't change one thing about it.  I would struggle to recollect a time that I felt more relaxed, and more
connected to nature.  It's funny what a perfect sunset, the beach and close family can do to your perspective.

There I was. Here I am
(John Malacarne)

The journey, an experience of a lifetime – the chance to be where not many people I know have ever been; the chance to be with my sons for an extended period of time; what more could a fellow ask for?

Well, I got a lot more than I expected. I did go where not many people have ever been. When I arrived in Nicaragua, I couldn’t have been more shocked or unsettled. The first streets I saw were littered with garbage, crowded with people, cabs, and buses. The journey in those crowded buses was, at first, a little unnerving. The places we observed on our travels were wooden, bamboo, block, and plank shacks. Wow, how bad these people had it!
- There I was, Here I am-
It took some time, but things changed - not the conditions or the people – the way I saw them. I began to realize I was looking through very clouded eyes. The people had all they needed; the sea, from which most received their living, beautiful skies, fantastic sunsets, warm water, shelter, and the opportunity to live in nature at almost all times. After I realized that, in many ways, these people whom I felt sorry for were living the dream of many people, I relaxed and shared in the beauty of God’s Kingdom of Nicaragua.

There I was – the Dad taking his boys on an adventure to a foreign land. They would lean on me as they have their mother and I since they were born – me, the hero, the fun one. What was I thinking?!

Here I am – Mark drove me to and from the airport. He was much more confident in finding our way through airports than I ever could be. Jonathan was waiting for us as soon as we disembarked from our plane. Tim had been traveling alone from the US and around Nicaragua. Tim and Jonathan handled all money transactions and travel during our adventure (as well as communications). Jonathan would be stopped on the streets of a village to shake hand and catch up with community members, or to introduce us to people at whom we could just smile and who smiled back at us. Going up in the hills to help a farmer friend of his milk cows and seeing the feelings these people had for him was heart melting. My boys are not little anymore – they are men each on a path to help others. Glory to God. Oh, I did get to see my little boys – they still play on the beach and tease each other as they have always done. One time, as they were walking down the beach side by side, I saw the three little guys who yesterday were walking on a beach in N.J.
Well, maybe it was the sunset reflecting off the water, or salt mist in my eyes, or maybe just maybe it was a film of tears at the pride I felt toward the three.

Did I enjoy the adventure – were there new revelations? Naw