Sunday, December 20, 2009


I’m not sure where to begin, what to say or what to hold back. After finding my way through customs I find a man in a crowd of people, Carlos, holding a single piece of paper with the words written, “Bree Wee” on it. He grabs my over sized luggage, the very one I paid an overweight fee just so I could take from all the unneeded “stuff” I have in Hawaii and give to those with less here in Nicaragua. He opens the back door as he is the driver and me the passenger. I’ve learned that life is better lived in the front row. A lot like school, those hiding from the action sit in the back. No longer in high school, I want the front seat these days.
The drive from Managua to San Juan Del Sur was certainly worth the view. The first town we drive through has me holding back tears. You can see into the homes and the view is simple. The homes are concrete walls, a single room with mats or a blanket on the floor. Most look like a few families share each home. Within the walls were maybe a foto or two hanging, a shelf with a single book or flower vase, a chair, and I didn’t see much else. The tears continued to make their way from my heart to my face. As we drove further into the towns I discovered everyone smiling, laughing, holding hands in the street. There was conversation and life. Perhaps when you have nothing to lose you have everything you need, these people were happy. More happy than a lot of people I know whom have everything the world can offer.
Carlos is now driving like he is on a mission, we are reaching kilometers that make me thankful to have on a seatbelt. I’m hoping and praying the entire time that the men and women walking the streets stay off the road. Unshockingly, everyone drives like Carlos. The 2 lane highway, the paved sections and rocky parts, are also home to the horses and dogs we nearly collide with. Half way to San Juan Del Sur we stop for a drink. The rule here is not to give any begging children money. You can give them food, water, clothes, toys, just not money. Giving money is likely to be supporting a “habit”. Drugs, cigaretes, who knows.
A young boy, maybe 7 years old taps on my window as I wait for Carlos in the market. He wants some change. Looking into his eyes I want to give him some, not knowing why he wants it and knowing I shouldn’t, I tell him, “sorry” or “lo siento”. He presses his young, innocent face to my window with tears rolling down his cheeks, as if to say, “please help”. My head shakes no. It’s the worst “no” I ever said. Away he walks and I watch him in the market. He comes out of the market, pulls out a small handful of coins, counts them, then puts them back into his pocket with disappointment, it perhaps was not enough. As he walks past the vehicle I call him over. At this moment all my motherly instincts take over, his eyes are brown, but all I see is Kainoa’s ocean blue eyes. At that moment, in that breath my heart told me to give him money. The young boy stared at me helplessly. I grabbed his little hand and put money into it then told him to tell nobody and get away before I was busted for giving him money. Im not sure what the boy will use the money for, Im hoping for food.
The ride got more exciting with its twists and turns. What came next my seat belt could not have prepared me for. We get to a small town and it looks as if the entire population is on the street. They stand looking at a man, laying dead in the road. He had been hit by a speeding car on his walk home only minutes before we arrived. The town was there to identify who’s dad, brother, son, husband he was. Seeing the blood just pouring out of his lifeless body next to the car that hit him, I lost it completely and emotionally. Nicaragua has already tossed at me more than I was prepared for.
2 hours later we arrive at my families. Everyone is smiling and happy. The home is simple, peaceful. Part of me feels so lonely, I already miss Kainoa. Now thinking in Spanish with so much to say I am at a loss for words. Everyday speech comes easy, but emotions I can only express in English. Finally to my pillow, I make myself a promise, that I will learn all I can, the Spanish, the culture, to embrace the simplicity of this life, and to discover whatever it is that Nicaragua can teach me.
At 4am I awake to drums outside my window. The children of Nicaragua are marching to the church. All of December they celebrate the life God gave them by walking at 4am to arrive to church by 5am. Their singing and drums wake me from slumber. I try to fall back asleep, however I keep waking with a loneliness for Kainoa and all the thoughts of the homes we passed, the home I am in, and the man laying dead in the street. I decide to just stay awake and put all my thoughts on paper.
The sun finally comes alive and my hour run is calling my name. The streets are full of women sweeping their dirt floors, men saddling up horses, children running after dogs, and vendors selling fruits, veggies, and meat on sticks. I find the beach and run on it till the very end. From there I see a foot bridge. Over the bridge is a trail that I take until a few stray dogs scare me to turn back. Most the dogs I passed were only curious, these were more like vicious dogs and I wasn’t in the mood for rabies. The run felt so good, the perfect way to clear my mind and calm my shaken heart.
Back home Vanessa, (my Nicaraguan mom), is making breakfast. Gallo pinto it is. Fully immersed in Spanish with all those around the table. I’m reminded why I’m here. A couple of the students, neighbors, from school are heading to Maderas to surf. Already, day one, I was going surfing. The adventures have begun sooner than imagined. From horses in the streets, monkeys, and cows in the front yard, to the beach we went.
The first paddle into the Pacific had my heart fully awake, surfing always does that to me. This was never intended to be a surf trip, I didn’t even bring a board. Borrowing a board I am now free under the waves and into the wild blue ocean. Everything finally goes calm. For being such a tranquil place there is too much happening within me to find peace. The ocean finally gives me the breathing room I need. This surf is my swim for the day...
I’m now sitting at sunset in an internet café. Using the restroom is 5 Cordobas or 25 cents. There is more pineapple in my belly then imaginable, and everything smells like chicken. Tomorrow starts school and rumor from the other students is that I am in class alone. Just me and the teacher, no place to hide, totally exposed. This trip truly is front row seating only.

Muchos abrazos desde Nicaragua, and sorry, I have no spell check on this computer...


Regina said...

Wow! What an adventure already. Your first day was quite a lot to take in. I have no doubt this will be a very rewarding trip for you in many ways. I hope you find joy and peace where possible and be content to know your beautiful son will be waiting to welcome you home.

Kat said...

Your trip to Nicaragua thus far reminds me of a trip I took to India. When I first arrived I had never seen so much poverty (even though I had lived in an itty bitty farming village in Costa Rica). Hundreds of homeless lined the streets, sleeping, urinating and defecating in public. We were also told not to give money to beggars, but that was because mothers would maim their children in order to use them as "props" to garner sympathy. It was a terribly sad place (not to say that all of India is like that, only the places I visited), and I saw some horrific things, but it made me so thankful for all that I have and made me look for beauty wherever I could find it. Even though the family that I lived with in Costa Rica had very little by American standards, they had such an incredible love of life- if you have a chance, find a dancing partner while you're down there. Spirit just oozes out of people if you let it.

I have no doubt that you will find lots of beauty and joy in this trip from outside and within. Pura vida.

Dolphin Boy said...

This trip is sooo YOU Bree. Embrace and enjoy the goodness around you. Expose that Aloha Spirit (which you do so well) and all the children will flock to you.
Thinking of you during Christmas week wishing you all the best.

Warm Aloha for now

ADC said...

Wow, it sounds amazing. I admire your bravery and adventurous heart.

Marni said...

Bree I can't wait til you write a book one day. I love reading your blogs. Have fun and enjoy every minute. Those types of trips really make you enjoy what you have even when you feel like you have nothing.

NJ said...

I think reading about your time in Nicaragua the next couple weeks is going to bring back a lot of memories of when my family and I lived in Catemaco, Mexico. Being a part of the daily life is sobering. I'm amazed at the number of people who will vacation in third-world countries in the sheltered comfort of a five-star resort and never go anywhere to experience the culture of the country they are in. In many cases, I'm sure it is easier for many people to do that than to face the reality...poverty is rampant. It can be so easy to forget how nice we have it. Thank you for blogging about your experiences and reminding me that despite the challenges I have right now (that seem so insurmountable, I might add), I have tons to be thankful for.

Jill Costantino said...

WOW - it is hard to believe how different their world is, but how much apprecitation they have for the little that they have. What a fantastic adventure.

Beth said...

Wow - this trip sounds exciting, scary, crazy and fun all at the same time!! Thanks for writing - it's so interesting to hear about another side of the world. Keep safe Bree!


You are one brave muchacha!! I think I need to plan a vacation down there with my family to show them how the rest of the world lives.
Be careful and have fun!

bathmate said...

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Everything looks good in your posting.
That will be necessary for all. Thanks for your posting.