Saturday, 6/15:  Nicaragua, Day 2-ish

The earlier post was really a recap of our travel day yesterday (Friday).  I have already officially lost track of all time, as the people of Nicaragua live extremely slow-paced lifestyles.  As we were riding this morning to Chinandega from Managua, I looked intensely out the bus windows, taking in the different surroundings. 
Mountainous terrain was in the background at every angle; people were closing in on mopeds and inside of overcrowded buses.  There are no driving rules here (which you know, makes me want to take the wheel) and I couldn’t quite reconcile where everyone was in a hurry to end up.  I think the locals have just gotten so used to driving like they’re starring in Frogger that it’s more of a routine pastime than an effort to arrive anywhere on time.
Families line the streets, sitting almost whimsically on plastic chairs in front of their Good Humor ice cream carts.  Some sell Coca-Cola, others sell hot dogs.  Well, presumably there are hot dogs inside the carts.  We didn’t stop.
The people just gather; that is their entire day.  There are no sales goals, there are no “plans,” there are no agendas.  It just is.
Often times in my life I have wondered if that’s a better way to live.  Realizing the definition of “better” is always subjective and relative, I have stopped trying to come to any conclusion.  But without question, different lifestyles are not only interesting, they are a necessity.  We are all products (or, at times, victims) of our environments and culture.  We are human.  And we adapt.  
In fact this group adapted so well today it made the leaders proud.  After an earthquake registering 6.5 prevented us from going to the ocean, we hunkered down at our hotel for the afternoon.  Our rooms are small, but completely functional and cozy. 
Once everyone unpacked, we hung out by the pool for the afternoon.  Friendly competition ensued both in and out of the water.  Mariam made the mistake of sighing, “I would do anything to work out right now,” so she and I did a speed pool-run ladder in the kiddie pool.  She enjoyed it so much that she decided to let me know later via a thorough euchre butt-kicking.
I’m enjoying the process of getting to know these kids.  Maddie is not only one of the smartest 15 year-olds I’ve ever met (quantum physics connoisseur AND a master hair-braider to boot), but she’s inquisitive and open to conversation.  Yeah…unplugging and talking all day was worth the dry contacts and every uninvited bug that nestled its way into my already affected heart.
The night ended with a group dinner and time of prayer.  We were each asked 3 questions and asked to journal about the answers.
What did you guys notice about the culture of Nicaragua?  What are the similarities and differences to the U.S.?
(As stated by Erik):  “The people here have so little and treat it as so much; sometimes, we are the exact opposite back home.”
Amen, kiddo.  Amen.

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