by Alec ’17
This morning I awoke, like any other morning, to Guillermo, my host brother, knocking on my door and telling me that it was time to get up. However, being my usual lazy and somewhat irresponsible self, I fell back asleep and woke up at 6:54 p.m. Knowing I had to be at breakfast at 7:00 a.m., I quickly dumped a bucket of water on my head and threw on some clothes. Great way to start a day. Luckily the day did not continue on this unfortunate path and things quickly got better on the way from my house to Rafaela’s. Guillermo, per usual, accompanied me, and we quickly got onto the topic of music. He asked who some of my favorite artists were and I told him, Leonard Cohen, Bob Dylan, and Lou Reed, because their lyrics are like poetry. I had learned about his love of poetry and literature in general, so I expected a positive or at least inquisitive response. Instead, he told me that when he listens to music, he listens independently of the lyrics, because poetry and music are different art forms. He listens for the rhythm. He had to repeat himself three times before I understood him. I let up at this moment because I realized I would be able to do two of my favorite things — talk about music and argue that music only heightens the poetic quality of lyrics and that the lyrics combine with the music for an even more expressive art form. I explained this in Spanish, after figuring it all out. We arrived at Rafaela’s and decided that an argument is only an opinion. I was ok with this. It was 7:06 a.m. on a Saturday morning and I was already filled with passion and excitement. I really love Guillermo. He is one of the most genuine people I have ever met, and I will forever appreciate the fact that he didn’t mistake my difficulties in Spanish for general incompetance. Even though conversation is difficult. He is always challenging me intentionally because he wants to know what is in this weird American kid’s head.
The intended plan was to go to Leon, the Democratic Capital of Nicaragua, which is two-and-a-half hours away. Even though I hate sitting still for extended amounts of time, I have loved our bus rides. We play games, talk, and generally bond. I have come to really like the group and occasionally it’s important to stop and think how lucky I am to be in Nicaragua with thirteen extremely genuine, fun, and interesting people. From the bus we went straight to a museum of Nicaraguan culture which was very, very hot. It was hard to listen to the guide, but I enjoyed looking at the ceramics. Sydney had to spend the day on the bus because she wasn’t feeling well. This made the group feel sad because we weren’t complete without her.
After the museum, we went to a very cool restaurant which excited the group because although the food at Rafaela’s is nice, it was cool to actually choose what we wanted to eat. I ordered tortillas with rice, beans, vegetables, and chicken. I devoured it! After lunch, we had some free time and some of us played hackey sack under a tree. Some Nicaraguan kids would come play with us, so we met some really cool people. At 2:00, we went to the Cathedral and actually climbed to the top. We had to climb up four flights of stone stairs and then had to take off our shoes in order to visit the rooftop. The cathedral was breathtaking. Well thought out placement of domes and railings that reflected beautiful shadows, all bright, white stone, perfect symmetry. The most beautiful sight was the view of Momotombo, a massive, active volcano that has yet to blow its top. I wanted to stay on the roof for hours, but unfortunately we had to go.
The most important part of the day was 20 minutes ago, right before I sat down to write this blog. I put on a pair of pants that I had worn on Wednesday and I felt something in my pocket. After pulling it out, I realized that it was a forgotten gift from a student in the 8th grade class named Emmanuel. I think that there are some people who are truly kind and I think Emmanuel is one of them. Before handing me a folded piece of paper, he told me “Me gustan tus ojos.” which I didn’t really understand at the time. The picture he drew was the same as an Anime person, with beautiful, intricately drawn brown eyes, with an arrow pointing to my name. And it made me realize that kindness really is independent of race, and socio-economic status, gender, and age. How could someone who has so little materially go so far out of his way to make someone like me,who has so much, feel appreciated? I don’t know the answer for sure. I won’t write my speculations, but I think it’s important to think about.