Friday, January 30, 2009

Last 2 days in Nicaragua--tough ones! (Jan. 12-13)

Monday, Jan. 12

Our last morning in Leon was a tough one. We had to say goodbye to our host families, who have treated us like one of their own. Many of us made strong connections in just a few days. While most of us will try to keep in touch, all of us will recall the memories and experiences that we shared with them and cherish each one. We loaded the microbus for one final time and waved farewell to our Nicaragua family (la familia). Tears ran down the cheeks of people on both sides of the bus windows as we drove away.

We traveled back towards Managua to stop at an organization that works for fair trade. Esperanza en Acción (Hope through Action) is a fair trade organization that works with Nicaraguan artisans to ensure fair trade of their art. The non-profit organization (NGO) sells the art for fair prices and then gives that money to the artists. It has made a real difference in many
of lives of the artisans that they work with. We heard from one artisan, Guadalupe, who explained to us how selling her work and receiving fair prices for her art (el arte) has vastly improved the life of her family. We all had an opportunity to buy art from Esperanza en Accion after our discussion. The difficult part was deciding from all of the beautiful pieces of art - pottery, paintings, baskets, jewelry, woven bags, and more.

Finally, for our last night, we traveled to a lake to spend the remainder of the day and night laying in hammocks, swimming, relaxing, and enjoying the dwindling hours in Nicaragua. We stayed in dormitory-style rooms with bunk beds and a few showers. We ate an amazing vegetable stir-fry dinner under the stars and hung out by the lake. It was a nice ending to our amazing experience.

Tuesday, Jan. 13

We woke up early for one final time in Nicaragua. With an afternoon flight back to the U.S. approaching, we had time for one last stop. We loaded the microbus and made our way to the Masaya Market, an outdoor market filled with food, crafts, and goods, to buy souvenirs and gifts. The market (mercado) was a neat experience and gave everyone one last time to work on their Spanish!

Once we depleted our wallets of remaining Córdobas, we traveled to the Managua International Airport. It was time to leave. We checked in for our flight and stopped at the food court to have lunch before boarding the plane. Our delegation hosts, Ofelia and Ulises, dined with us for one last time. After long goodbyes and exchanges of email addresses, we waved farewell to our fabulous hosts and walked through security to our gate.

We had safe flights first to Miami and then Washington, D.C. We exited baggage claim just after midnight to find Gettysburg College vans greeting us outside. Shocked by the cold weather, we quickly loaded our things (plus, we were pretty good at this by now!) and traveled back to Gettysburg College.

Arriving back on campus around 2 a.m., some of us woke-up roommates and others arrived home to people waiting up to hear all about the trip. Either way, we knew that in the coming days we would have much sharing to do with everyone at home. And where to start or how to explain what we learned and experienced felt overwhelming. How could we possibly explain something that truly had to be experienced by oneself?

But for now, we were tired and freezing. The shock between the Nicaraguan warm weather and Gettysburg's frigid night made us want to warm up. Frankly we needed to go to bed after the long day of travel.

No comments:

Post a Comment