Sunday, June 20, 2010
A weird bug I got a shot of molting his old skin. Yuck!
Los Estados Unidos. Te quiero mucho.
My Dad met me at O’Hare in Chicago and as we drove home to 1951 Harlem I felt both relived and thrilled that the long day was over and I was soon to see my Mom, B.B. (my grandmother) and Brian. Upon walking in the door I was surprised by two special friends, Liz and Molly, who I learned had been placing bets on if I would pass their checklist of being tan, thin, and teary-eyed – check, check, check! The rest of the week was filled with graduation ceremony/party preparations, spending time at home, and catching up with friends. I was very glad I made the journey home to see my brother graduate from Boylan High School and receive his appointment to the Air Force Academy. I have never been so proud of him. It honestly feels like he just started his freshman year and it was a bit surreal thinking I had been standing in his shoes six years ago. I can honestly say working in Nicaragua with a bunch of kids was not on the radar at all. Funny how things work out.
Home vs. Here
The best way to summarize the wide gap that separates the United States from Nicaragua is to describe my night’s stay before I caught the plane to Chicago. Aura and Juan Pablo, whom I have mentioned before are the very generous couple we have met here. Juan Pablo is a caretaker at NPH. Aura is going to school part-time and takes care of their son Paulo Isaac on the mainland. They are very warm people and in order to be sure I made it to the airport on time on Friday they offered up their home to spend the night Thursday. It is a humble casita made of cement floors with a kitchen, two bedrooms and a family room. There is no running water inside the house, but the sink, shower, and bathroom are outside and shared with the neighbors. I shared Aura’s bed with her and her son (Juan Pablo was working on the Island) because her father lives with them and sleeps in the other room. We ate plantains, beans and rice and cheese for dinner and fruit with coffee for breakfast. It is a very common middle class home. Fast forward 24 hours later and I am taking a hot shower in a recently bleached tile bathroom, eating graduation party pasta salad with a glass of wine, I have my own fluffy bed with 4 pillows (just the way I like it), and I am not sweating. Both are beautiful ways to live, but the difference was palpable in less than a day.
I found it odd too how easily I accustomed myself throughout the week. I easily assimilated into getting up, drinking coffee, reading the paper, watching the TODAY show and planning what I was going to do that day. I automatically knew how to live and go about my day. That is not the case here at all. I still feel like I don’t really have a routine and I am constantly adjusting to life here. Yes, obviously I am more used to Midwest living, but I regret to admit I did not think much of the kids as NPH, miss my life on the Island, or really was pumped to get back on the plane.
The visit to home was not as cheery and celebratory for Ryan. As we were headed to the airport early Sunday morning he got news that his sweet Grandpa Ralph passed away after a downward spiral of health issues. He was blessed to be able to spend time with his Grandpa the week before, but nevertheless it was a strong reminder of how important family is and how much it can stink to leave the places you love.
We got back to the Island safe and sound and found that everything was greener and the kids were full of hugs and questions. I received a huge hug from my buddy Jeffery and I was glad to be back. A low-key week followed as I prepared for my family’s visit the coming week, or I should say I prepared Nicaragua for the Klazura Family J.
La Familia Klazura
The Klazura Family has just spent a week here in the Central America Wonderland of Nicaragua and it was a wonderful trip. I picked up the parents and Brian at the airport in Managua and baptized them by fire and put them right on a public bus to Rivas where we got a taxi to where Greg had been volunteering the past week, the rural area of Tola, and we spent a night at The Surf Sanctuary. We saw San Juan del Sur, NPH, Isla de Ometepe, volcanoes, waterfalls and so much more!
In Nicaragua I am pretty used to traveling somewhat inconspicuously (the blond hair is not helpful in this) and sort of know my way around. Traveling with an entire gringo family, on the other hand, is anything but unnoticeable to the average Nica. My brothers who are now very tall and all of us who are very white received shameless stares of curiosity constantly. Also, traveling on my parents’ budget instead of my own was a HUGE treat. Hired transportation and hotel hot showers were awesome.
Now, in the past I have been known to be a sort of Princess when it comes to family vacations. Long car rides, annoying brother habits, sharing space etc. have not always been a ball of fun. As we have gotten older, however, these family vacations have changed from bickering bonanzas to a chance to appreciate one another. We were able to joke around, but still have some serious conversations about the future and NPH. It was so interesting to get their perspective after all these months. In summary, they were pleasantly surprised how wonderful and warm the kids were and they were shocked (even brother Greg) to see the living conditions of the volunteer house. It certainly was reassuring to know I wasn’t the only one grossed out sometimes. All in all, I feel so blessed to have had this week with them showing off this country that I have come to really appreciate too.
Now that vacation time is over until possibly October it is “back to normal” here at NPH and living on the Island and I am looking forward to working with the kids and students. There are some volunteers ending their work here and new ones are coming within the next weeks. It will be interesting to see how the dynamics of the volunteer house change. I am most sad that my lovely roommate Carmen is heading back to the real world in Managua in July. I apologize for the lack of entries. Again, the internet is a constant battle and its hard to write a blog about your family visit when they are the reason you write the blog in the first place.
Hasta la proxima vez. xoxo