This post is coming much later than anticipated, but it’s finally here! It was originally written last Saturday before the first team arrived, but I am just now getting around to posting it.
Currently sitting in the Hernandez’s house listening to Jon Bellion. The Hernandez are a family that has been working for and involved in Forward Edge and the Villa for years. This is the calm before the storm. The first team arrives tonight and then we hit the ground running and don’t stop. Before the first team arrives, I wanted to share some fun things about Nicaragua and our time here so far.
Here are some fun and different things you have to adjust to when living in Nicaragua:
- Building and homes are built out of concrete and cinder block. The walls of the rooms do not meet the roof/ceiling.
- Roofs are made out of tin.
- Everything is more exposed to the outside.
- Bright colors everywhere. Interior decorating looks a bit differently here. .
- Sleeping with only a sheet and no blankets. As our host said “there is really only one season in Nicaragua: Summer. Rainy summer and not rainy summer.”
- Cold showers. Mmmhmm. Nothing like a nice cold shower to wake you up in the morning.
- Bug bites. Lots of bug bites. I hate bug spray, so the first day/night I thought “I am just going to see what happens”. I woke up the next morning with 30+ bites from the knees down…now, bug spray. Lots of bug spray.
- Torrential downpours…on tin roofs. So, imagine trying to sleep next to a jet.
- Thunderstorms. I am talking real thunderstorms. Las tormentas sobre las tormentas.
- Humidity and constantly feeling a little sticky. I actually kind of enjoy this. There is never a need for moisturizer. Oh, and for me this means very frizzy, big hair. Really big hair.
- Wooden rocking chairs. Nearly everywhere you go, there are these amazing wooden rock chairs. Some of the most comfortable chairs you can ever sit in.
- Juice at every meal.
- Rice, beans, and plantains at every meal. I love plantains, so that’s a good thing.
- We get fed a lot. Never have to worry about a meal. The first time I came down to Nicaragua I gained 5 lbs in 10 days. I joked that I would come back to the states this time a chubster…I now realize that could actually happen.
- Blocks of detergent instead of dish soap. These things are the best. One quick swipe with a sponge and you are good to go.
- Do not flush toilet paper. Oh no, do not do that.
- Many horses and dogs roaming free. Just the other day we were driving down the street and a horse is just lazily walking down the middle of the road.
This week before the teams come, the rest of the staff at the Villa are busily preparing for “team season”. So, as interns we have been doing all sorts of odd jobs. One of those jobs was helping Delilah with some book keeping, which was truly a pleasure. Delilah is a delightful person and here is a bit more about her:
Delilah does not speak a lot of English, but she is learning and practicing. However, she is very good at speaking Spanish in a way that gringos can understand. Working with her this week was so enjoyable. It made me practice my Spanish more too. Between the amount of English she can speak and the amount of Spanish I can speak, we can communicate fairly easily. The language barrier just becomes cause for laughter. Delilah has this magnetic and effervescent personality. Her smile and laugh are so warm and genuine. She absolutely loves music and loves to sing. So, we would play music while we worked, alternating between English and Spanish songs. She patiently and graciously explained to us what we needed to do and would never fail to encourage us when we did it correctly. All the while, laughing at herself and her English as she went along. We also found out that she also loves Subway. I can’t wait to get to know her more as the summer goes on.
Another person who has been very influential each time I have come to Nicaragua is William:
William works for the Villa to help coordinate all of the service projects in which the teams participate and also at the Villa when team season is over. He is also the hefe of all the other grounds and maintenance guys who work at the Villa. With every team that comes, he goes out of his way to engage with team members, learn more about them, and encourage them. He’s the only on site worker who speaks English. On my first trip, I knew zero Spanish and was a little hesitant in general. William would always joke around with me and one day pulled me aside and started asking me about my life and told me a bit about his. We’ve been friends ever since. When I arrived at the Villa this time, he greeted me with a huge smile, big hug, and kiss on the cheek.
In a culture where many men skirt their responsibilities, William’s character stands out. He is equally goofy as he is impressive and a straight shooter. He speaks English nearly fluently, but most of the time he purposefully only speaks Spanish to Jess and I, because he knows we need to practice, even if we don’t know that. He loves to tease, but takes it as well as he dishes it out. All the guys respect him, and he deserves it, but he is never aloof. Instead, he acts as if he always has something to learn from someone. And he has this laugh. The only way I can describe it as like Rafiki in Lion King. You can’t listen to him laugh without smiling, and he laughs easily. Yet, he also has this very direct way of approaching situations. On my first trip, we were working at school and there was a job that required us to spend all day on a roof. He asked for volunteers and some of us stepped forward. Well, William looks at one of the guys and said bluntly “No, you can’t go up there, you are too heavy.” And if you are doing something wrong, he won’t be shy about coming up and saying “You are doing that wrong.” Somehow though, it’s not offensive (well, at least not to me) because every ounce of William is drenched in sincerity. His only option is to be sincere. It’s as if any other way of being has never crossed his mind. He just has this unique way of bringing out the best in people, but although he does it with confidence it’s still without a “holier than thou”. He makes you want to be a better person and to push yourself past your comfort zone. He leads by example. Although, I am not sure that William has a comfort zone. He’s also an extremely caring father and husband. He often talks about how God has worked faithfully in his and his family’s life. Perhaps at some point, I will recount the story of his daughter, because it is truly amazing.
That’s all for now! Till next time. Cheerio!