A lot has happened since my last update. It’s a brand new year, for one. Happy 2011!
On New Year’s Eve, a few of us returned to my campo homestay for a celebration of one of the girl’s fifteenth birthday. It is a monumental birthday here because it marks the transition from childhood to adolescence. There was a Mass and the quinceanera sat up front in her beautiful dress. She also had about 14 damas, which are like bridesmaids or attendants. After Mass, we all processed back to their house where there was music, food, and cake. After most of the guests left, we had fun dancing and lighting sparklers and setting off firecrackers. It was fun to experience this holiday in a new culture. At midnight, as all the fireworks were going off, everyone went around giving hugs, wishing everyone a happy new year. It was great to be welcomed into the new year by so much love and generosity.
The other week we (the new volunteers) journeyed way out to the campo (a 6 hour trek) to this little community called El Largatillo for a week of language school. The beauty and tranquility of the campo combined with the open arms of the Nicaraguans made it one of my favorite weeks in this country thus far. Each of us lived with a host family and had one on one lessons with a teacher for 2 hours in the morning and 2 hours in the afternoon. One day, we hiked to a waterfall in place of afternoon classes. A different morning, we got up extremely early and hiked all the way up a mountain and spent the day up there. I was in awe of the natural beauty surrounding me. At night, there we were more stars than I have ever seen in my life. The family that I stayed with, a single mom and her son, has such a close and life-giving relationship. It was wonderful to have the opportunity to share with them and to listen to my host brother play guitar and sing with his mom. Being in Largatillo for the week taught me so much more than how to conjugate Spanish verbs and use prepositions. I am slowly gaining confidence in my ability to understand and speak Spanish and I am constantly reminding myself that I have to let go of my pride and be willing to make mistakes. I also learned that I can connect with people here and laugh and joke around with them. I discovered a deep sense of peace that I am where I am supposed to be and that there is so much joy when I slow down and embrace the quiet (well, minus the roosters, donkeys, and other animals) of campo life. I am extremely grateful that I had that experience.
La Cascada (Waterfall)
View from the top of the mountain
Volcano off in the distance
I now have a couple weeks off before I start teacher meetings at school. I am trying to take advantage of this downtime to read, journal, spend quality time with community mates, learn to cook, and decorate my room.
Thank you all for the Christmas cards! I appreciate your continuous support and am sending my love your way.