You have no idea how weird it was to hear “Welcome Home” come from a complete stranger as I walked through customs upon reentering the United States. Part of me was happy and comforted by the idea, yet another part longed for the land of piña, tostones and español that I had just left.
Okay, okay. So I know I said I was going to try to keep you all posted on how the trip went but I didn’t. Sorry to let you down. It was tricky getting to places with internet access since I didn’t bring a computer or a tablet with me. Maybe the next time I go, I’ll do that differently. That’s right – the NEXT time. I’m totally going back. I left my heart there and everyone knows you can’t continue living without a heart so I’m going to have to go back soon to retrieve it. Not that I plan on bringing it back the next time I leave either. I have a feeling that this trip was the beginning of a beautiful friendship between myself and Central America. I met so many amazing people with such inspiring dreams. It’s one of my goals for this summer to document all these people’s stories on this blog, somewhat like a featured article might be in a newspaper.
Everyone we met was insanely friendly and giving. One gesture that really demonstrated this fact was when a small group of us went to a Sunday morning church service on the island of Ometepe. Obviously, the service was entirely in Spanish and while we know enough to communicate with most people, understanding a sermon was entirely different. The services there are filled mainly with worship through song, all sung a cappella. It’s truly an amazing experience simply listening but one of the ladies noticed that we weren’t singing along because we didn’t have a hymnal. She got up during the middle of the service and walked across the room to lend us her book. In the congregation of the church we were visiting, it was clear that many people did not have the money to afford things such as hymnals – instead, they memorized the songs through practice. This woman was sharing with us a very valuable possession of hers. While it seems like such a small gesture, it really meant a lot to myself and the group in that moment. Gringos are often separated from the community because we are outsiders but in those moments, as we sang along with the congregation, we felt as much a part of that little community in Ometepe as we would if we lived there. It was little things like that that brought special meaning to the trip.
It goes without saying that it was an eye opening experience, but it was more than that. It opened my heart to possibilities that I had never considered. I’m considering returning and teaching English through a program led by a man who owns one of the hotels we stayed in. Now I’m trying to figure out how I can add an ESL (English as a Second Language) minor into my already portly course load. I suppose this happens to everyone who travels, and I’m well aware of the fact that this is only the beginning of my worldly travels but I really do hope to return and help give back to the communities that were so friendly and welcoming to me on my first visit. They all have a place in my heart that won’t be easily replaced.
Until Next Time Nica,