Thursday, September 4, 2014

Nicaragua - First Day in Santa Elena

   As we drove down the Pan-American (la Panamericana Norte) in our big, old, yellow school bus from the U.S. state of Indiana, the air was permeated with the sound of the chatter of nearly 30 teens and adults. But I was determined to keep my eyes focused on studying my surroundings. We were headed to Santa Elena for the first time; we were going to meet the families we would be working with... and I was thrilled! Driving along, I noticed little garbage piles along the side of the rode. But what we experienced when we got to the village was on an entirely different level.

   As we pulled through the entrance to the village, I could almost feel the change in environment. The scent, which smelled strongly of sewage and garbage, with a bit of human waste, wafted around, filling the space like smoke in a chimney. And the smell seemed to appear instantaneously, as if it were held back by a door which, when opened, quickly released the stench all around us. Children of all ages came running to meet us with shouts of "Gringos! Gringos!", leaping over the streams of nasty, milky-white water and sewage that ran along the sides of every street.

   Many of their houses were sheets of metal and some concrete. There was garbage everywhere, and everywhere you looked there was an abundance of strikingly emaciated wild dogs walking down the street cowering in fear of being beaten with every threat of a child. Wild chickens were possibly even more prevalent than wild dogs.

   When we arrived at the church, we were immediately greeted by the children of the community, meeting new ones, and reconnecting with old friends. As Robert stepped off the bus, a little boy came running to give him a hug. A little girl asked Kayla, Berto, and I about Kari, who had come two years ago, with the last team, but wasn't able to come this time. The same little girl was confused when she recognized Mindee's skirt, borrowed from Brittany, from the last trip, and we had to explain to her that Brittany wasn't with us either. Many old friends were filled with joy at reconnecting with those they loved, and many new friendships were developed over the "Chicken Dance", the "Macarena", and a Nicaraguan children's game, "Don Macarron" (and "Lock the Boys in the Lions' Den"... I know, pretty funny).


Photo Credit: Steph Theis (2014)

Photo Credit: Steph Theis (2014)

Photo Credit: Steph Theis (2014)

Photo Credit: Steph Theis (2014)

Photo Credit: Steph Theis (2014)

Photo Credit: Steph Theis (2014)

*Steph Theis (my second "mom") also posted about the trip... For her posts, click below:
Some Fun (or Funny) Things about Nicaragua
Remembering Nicaragua
And FOR THE FULL STORY, click below:
Day by Day - Days 1-6
 Day by Day - Days 7-12
Also, I turned this post (slightly modified) into a VIDEO for my writing class. For the video, click here.

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