Saturday, 6/15:  Nicaragua Day 1

Well, we are safely here.  And to think it only took 16 hours, one passport securely placed into checked luggage, and a queasy stomach flight casualty later.

Yet, all is well and everyone except the local roosters and I are asleep.  I forgot that Nicaragua is in the Mountain Time Zone, so we are two hours behind home on the clock, the same time on my internal clock, and on “Nicaraguan” time everywhere else.  The pace is slow; the people are friendly; the air is thick.

And I am very glad to be back.

We have a good group of kids traveling this year.  Collectively, we total 25.  I’m not sure what that registers in decibels, but suffice it to say, I didn’t talk much yesterday.  Instead, I observed.  I witnessed things that made me laugh, made me proud, and almost made me cry.  Group camaraderie does me in every time.  From the constant razzing to the constant support, it’s pretty cool when it happens effortlessly.

So after having successfully tracked down Rob’s passport in Indy as it circled a super clean conveyor belt on its way to the abyss down below, we grabbed a late lunch and waited to board the plane to Houston.   An on-time and smooth flight, our mission was underway.

Upon arriving in Houston, it was a mad dash to the food court – I had also forgotten how much High School kids can eat – and we boarded again en route to Managua.  That flight?  Not so smooth.  Todd managed to pull some strings and get me seated in the very last row on bothflights.  I’m a smidge claustrophobic and would prefer making friends not on a plane, so couple that with my tired and a lot of self-talk was happening.

I am also not a fan of amusement parks under any circumstances, so when I lost my stomach in Demon- Drop-meets-that-horrid-Pirate-Ship-thing-style, I was only distracted by poor Alex throwing up 3 rows ahead.  Thankfully, Lauren handled it like a champ, promptly coming back with some remnants and an announcement of, “He’s fine, I’m getting him another bag and gave him some gum.”

When our plane finally landed as if we were getting pictures taken by family members standing on a bridge at the end of a log-flume ride, people started looking at me with a “What the ?” sort of look.  Clueless as to why, I look around.  And it’s not what I see that helps me understand the inquisition, it’s what I hear:  my kid in hereditarily, over-tired hysteria.  She’s screeching this sort of incomprehensible laugh, tears are flowing, shoulders are shaking.  Mariam’s eyeballs peer over the seat at me in an understood glance, and the rest of us start busting out in unison because you can’t not catch the contagion.

As we walk through the airport in Managua, we immediately paid our $10/each for a visa (Rob:  “Can the government really legally charge us to come here?”  Me:  “Three words.  Government, Nicaragua, ‘legal’.”  Just hang on to your passport.”).  I wasn’t sure if I’d remember the intricacies of the surroundings, but I did, and not much has changed in a year.  At least at the airport.

We were greeted by Alicia, a 25-year-old Food for the Hungry employee who is leading our group this year.  She and I talked on the bus ride from the airport to the center where we stayed last night – the place I sit now as I type.  Alicia has only been with FH for five months, but she is knowledgeable, friendly, and bright.  She graduated from college a few years back and is now studying Portuguese, which made me feel no bueno for my lack of Española.  Who knew those CD’s would take so long to listen to in between Petty and running down some dreams.

Miraculously, 25 tired and hungry travelers were still in decent moods as we arrived at the center around 11:00pm local time.  Our luggage was handed to us from atop the bus, and I self-talked my way out of picturing Aunt Edna, because Liv had already done the hysteria justice.  Wheeling in our bags, we smelled the chicken, vegetables, and papaya juice.

We ate, some showered, and some crashed.  And collectively, we slept.

Day 2 begins today as we travel to Chinandega – 2 ½ hours northwest.  Once we arrive, we will check into the hotel where we will stay through Thursday, gather into teams, and prepare for the remainder of our week.

We are all looking forward to meeting the people in El Porvenir, as we work to build not only relationships, but water filtration systems.  Oh, and hopefully play a little baseball.  Nothing breaks down language barriers faster than flying around makeshift bases in the pouring rain.

And nothing ends a blog post faster than 6 loud high school boys waiting to eat breakfast.


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