It is a Monday. I woke up this morning at 4:30am to the sound of silence. Then a splitting crack of thunder boomed, like an explosion, and was followed by pounding rain. It was the kind of rain that was so loud that it sounded more like a hail storm that was going to make a roof concave, than rain. It is a Monday, and I wake up at 6:45. The rain proceeds to come down at a rapid rate and I get dressed for breakfast. I eat a plate of eggs and pancakes with a side of rice and beans. I get dressed for teaching at the school. It is a Monday and I get to class late. There is one student there. The rain is still coming down, and by the end of the hour long class 4 of the 16 students had arrived. It is a Monday and it is time to play with all of the kids who showed up to school today. They come in to the classroom and play with bright smiles on their faces and warmth in their hearts. They laugh with us and teach us. They sing and dance and play with us. They brighten our days despite the fact we can’t perfectly communicate. They make us forget the rain and focus on the moment.
It is a Monday, and I notice a new student that I hadn’t met before. I am told that they were late because they had to walk 40 minutes to get to school while it was raining. I learn that some of the kids walk up to 10 miles everyday just to get to school. I learn that you can’t tell which kids live close or far, unless you ask, because they all are just as happy. It is Monday and I have to teach 1st grade. Again, only 4 students show up. We review numbers and start to learn vowels. Some of the kids obviously understand and learn really quickly, whereas others don’t understand. As the teacher of these young kids, you become invested in their success. Their success becomes your success, and their failure becomes your failure. It is a Monday and I work with a young boy named Aziel. We laugh and play and I really connect with him. He recognizes me by name and wants me to sit with him at lunch. This connection, even if it is just with one kid, is what makes this trip worth it.
It is a Monday and it is time to walk the kids home from school. They are all on bikes so we have to run to keep up. We walk a few miles and are only able to drop off 2 of the 5 kids because the rest live too far away. It is a Monday and I look at the culture and kids and people around me. I realize that back at home the word ‘Monday’ is typically associated with the end of something good. ‘Monday’ is usually considered a bad thing. But here it’s the start of something. It is the start of a new day. The start of a new week. A start of new opportunities. The roads may be long and bumpy, and every once in a while it might keep raining. But their spirits will never be dampened. Their warm smiles and enthusiastic spirits will never be dulled. They will always be up for the challenge with a smile on their faces. It is a Monday, and despite the fact that I am supposed to be the teacher, these kids have taught and touched me more than a classroom back at home ever could.
It is a Monday and I couldn’t be more happy.
(A brief recap of the weekend)
Saturday: We woke up and it was pouring outside. Our plans had initially been to bike and hike but because of the rain we decided to just do a short bike ride and swim at a nearby beach. The ride over was damp and quite, and everything seemed to glow because of how the sun hit the wet leaves. We rode up and down rocky, unpaved hills where chickens, cows, pigs, and horses meandered aimlessly. We then pulled up to a small, desolate beach. We splashed in the waves and smiled as our guide laughed at us for smearing black sand on our faces. We then peddled back and watched the golden sunset and the glowing stars from the dock.
Sunday: The next day was sunny, so we got up early and we made the 4-mile bike ride to the base of a trail head. We then started to hike up the volcano. However, we were not hiking, but rather practically running up this volcano. A hike that was suppose to take us about 2 hours took us 1. We quickly trekked through the green rain Forrest and up the steep rocky sides of the volcano. When we got to the top we saw this breathtaking waterfall and got to wade in the pool below it. Mist from the waterfall hit our faces and we smiled at our success. We then hiked down and rode our bikes back. We ate a large lunch and nearly fell asleep afterward. We then decided that we all wanted to go swimming in this apparently really fun swimming hole called ojo de agua . However there were only 4 spots in the truck and 9 of us wanted to go. Thus, four of us (John, Jaxon, Bill, Sarah and I) reluctantly volunteered to bike there. Despite the fact we were all pretty drained from the hike (or rather, run) from earlier that day, we made it to the swimming hole in one piece. But let’s just say the people in the truck owe us one. I am not completely sure how long it was but there were many hills and it felt like a long time. However, when we got to the swimming hole it was well worth it. It was an Oasis that was tucked away in the trees. There was a Tarzan rope and a slack line. The water was clear and was filled with rocks and sand on the bottom. It was really interesting to see the more tourists-ish side Nicaragua. After swimming, the bikers were planning on taking the bus back to our hostel and have the truck take out bikes but we missed the bus by four minutes. We then had to ride our bikes back and felt slightly defeated. We proceeded to realize that we were biking in the streets of Nicaragua and it felt a little more like an adventure. We passed street vendors and local restaurants. We smelled local food and observed the culture. These people were living their everyday lives. Lives that are so different than mine that it almost seemed unreal. The truck came back for us so we didn’t have to bike the whole way back (though some of us did). When we arrived back at the hostel we treated ourselves to giant banana smoothies. We reminisced in the tired, yet good post-exercise feeling. We laid in the hammocks and congratulated ourselves for pushing each other. Although everything didn’t happen according to plan we made it work. We had to learn to push ourselves and fought through the tiredness.