They arrived on Friday, a mid-afternoon flight from Miami headed for Managua filled with tourists, volunteers and Nicaraguans excited to reconnect with their families for the celebration of Holy Week. Cassie and I waited in anticipation for our first glimpses of Suzy, Tim and Gordon, happy for their arrival, but also a little sad that Connie would not be joining us as well. They arrived safely, and were immediately welcomed by the Managua heat which was mellowed by the delicious harvest of mangoes which were enjoyed throughout their time here. They showered us with a suitcase of gifts (some previously requested), which we very much appreciated.
Cassie and I played tour guides for the week. We brought them to our favorite restaurants and road-side eateries for some of the finest and cheapest eats Nicaragua has to offer. Suzy warned us in the beginning that she would not be eating “street food,” but in the end we had her convinced that this is where the gems are found.
We took them to beautiful scenes of nature throughout the country, enlightening our senses as we breathed in sulfur at the live volcano and fish in the local market. We also felt the Pacific crash against our bodies at Pochomil and enjoyed a morning swimming in the waves.
We listened to the birds and monkeys while we explored the national park of Tisey near Estelí. We accidentally took the wrong way on our walk and ended up walking for 22 kilometers, about a half a marathon. There were a few tired moments, but overall we enjoyed the mistake!
They loved the pretty flowers! Suzy even helped us pick out some plants for our future garden. She couldn’t believe the prices here. What she pays $20 for in the States, costs $1 here.
The history of Nicaragua was discovered throughout our time as we passed by statues of Sandino, viewed the ruins left behind by the earthquake of '72, explored museums and viewed the propaganda of the President as we drove along the streets.
We enjoyed conversations and laughter at the waterfalls and in the hammocks.
We were very happy that our parents had the opportunity to meet many of our friends and co-workers. Melvin (our co-worker at UPOLI) and his wife rushed to the airport in order to welcome our parents in the hospitable fashion of Nicaragua. We were all invited to the house of David Mercado for a traditional Nicaraguan meal. They we were greeted with great food and also wonderful company.
In Estelí, the hospitality continued as the Castillo family offered us food and fellowship and in many ways peace of mind for our parents, letting them know that Cassie and I had been “adopted” for the time being. We also had the opportunity of going to a Nicaraguan buffet with two of our good friends Gaby and Rodolfo. We made sure that they knew MN was the best state! The opportunity was also presented to meet many MCC staff which included a memorable meal with Lloyd and Goldie Kuhns because it rained in Managua in April (quite rare)! We were forced to translate in many of these encounters, which in turn helped to increase our Spanish skills.
The time was way too short and saying our “goodbyes” in the place where we had only said “hello” a week ago brought tears to everyone's eyes.