25.03.2016 - 05.04.2016 37 °C
Having been in Nicaragua for over two months I have been reflecting on my experience thus far. It has definitely been more challenging than I was expecting. Though I feel that I have been learning a lot, making friends with amazing people and having the ability to utilize my Spanish skills. Being in a work environment where the vast majority of the employees only speak Spanish or it is their first language and prefer to use Spanish, has forced me (in a good way) to improve my ability to articulate myself in another language. I feel that I am finally reaching a point where I can have meaningful conversations with people, learn about who they really are and learn about their country. I had this feeling when I was studying abroad as well, but the importance and profound ability that language has to bring people together is amazing to me. Without knowing how to speak Spanish, I would not be able to converse with the majority of the people who are around me everyday. I would not be able to make the friendships that I have been, nor be able to accomplish pretty much any of my work.
Another thing that I am finally processing is the reality of the drought here in Nicaragua. I feel like I have been observing this fact for the past two months, but not really feeling it. Nicaragua is incredibly dry right now. They have been going through about a 5 year long drought. The rivers are are reduced to a trickel and the water table is getting lower and lower. I hope that some rain comes in my time here because everyone keeps telling me how the dry, barren landscape bursts into a brilliant green and flowers bloom all over. The lack of water became really apparent on one of our trips when we were told that the city was rationing water and had turned off the water for a few days, this is a regular occurance and something that many Nicaraguans have to live with. Especially when working in school gardens the need for water becomes even more obvious. There are certain schools that we can work in, certain days and certain projects that we can work on due to the availability of water.
Last week, I was able to visit a community called Malacatoya that exemplifies how I had been imagining Nicaragua. After spending a month in Costa Rica last summer, I expected that Nicaragua would be just as lush. This community is more mountainous, the air feels fresher and cooler, you can hear howler monkeys in the trees, coffee is growing, and most families have their own small farm. Through this agricultural lifestyle there is less poverty, because each family is able to grow food to eat as well as some to sell to generate income. There is a river within the community where Asofenix, Global Student Embassy's in-country partner, has built a hydroelectric plant in order to generate power for the community. It has been amazing seeing the impact that Asofenix has had over their 15 years in Nicaragua and how they really work to better the country and to help people through the utilization of natural resources. It is interesting to me to see the contrast between the fertile area of Malacatoya compared to many other regions of Nicaragua, and a huge part of it I believe comes from the presence of the river close by. Water truly is a source of life.
My experience in Nicaragua has continued to show me that you really do not need much in life in order to be happy. That it isn't about your physical possessions, but instead about the relationships that you build and the community you create. I am looking forward to the rest of my time here, and I know I will be sad to say goodbye when that day comes.