I’m not phased by a lot. In most settings, this is helpful (like being the only one not to cry at the end of The Notebook.) So when I stepped out of the Nicaraguan airport, nothing really hit me except for humid air. Granada, of course, was wonderful, as you heard in Jaxon’s amazing post. We were taking it all in when one of Hostel Oasis’s other tenants said something obvious, but noteworthy.
“These people aren’t dressing up for you,” he said. “You’re getting an inside look into their lives.”
After that particularly, I took some extra time to look out of the window of our van on the bumpy rides and while we walked around. It’s like looking through glass–we’re there, but it seems unreal and warped. To see people living naturally in a way so different from ours was refreshing. Most people rode bikes everywhere, something I would have trouble doing on hilly roads, especially with three children on the bike as well. Chickens and pigs grazed from yard to yard. People were living lives I had never thought about.
The main point of interest, the thing that really made me snap out of that dream state and realize I was in Nicaragua, was the school. Ometepe Bilingual School was a thing of amazing creativity. The difference between our cultures was most evident to me at the school, right down to the architecture. The walls (and the floor of the Kindergarten classroom) are made of trash filled disposable water bottles. Not only is this cost effective, they are collected by the community for money, bringing interest to the school. They are also incredibly strong, which we tested by smashing rocks against the concrete mixture. The school is also open, it’s window lacking pains and doors, purposely helping with the heat and practicality of the design. I’ve never seen a community come together in a creative way like this, where the parents value education enough to spend countless hours helping improve the school. It never ceases to amaze me that when people come together, are organized, and smart to know when to ask for help, what can get done. I’m looking forward to learning from them and bringing some of my thoughts to the people on Ometepe, especially the children that have great resources and willful people around them.