Johvanny ’16 writes:
This morning I was awakened by the combined sounds of a crowing rooster and blaring Spanish music from a neighboring house. Since I woke up earlier than usual, I decided to help my host mom with the household chores she does every morning before she walked me to breakfast at Rafaela´s.
After we finished breakfast, a class of primary students from La Nicaragüita arrived to escort us to school, but they were ten minutes earlier than usual. Instead of their normal school uniforms, they were dressed in casual play and beach clothes, which reminded me that today is La Manana de Verano (The Summer Morning) at the school. As we paired up for our walk to school, some of the older students brought additional tables and chairs to the house in preparation for today´s special lunch with the teachers.
On the walk to La Nicaraguita, I had a short conversation with a little girl named Adriana, who told me how excited she was for today, her favorite celebration day of the entire year. When I walked into my first grade classroom, the children began chanting my name and ran to hug me. This has become a daily occurrence and I feel honored that they love me so much. After these greetings, I began checking homework and helping the teacher prepare for the next lesson. The children were somewhat restless during class, but when I asked them to change their behavior, they didn´t complain and became more attentive.
When class ended, the Summer Day celebration began. The teacher taught a short lesson on the seasons, transitioned into a series of games related to the lesson, and then asked me to think of a game to play outside with them while she re-arranged the classroom and prepared bowls of fruit for everyone. I decided to teach them how to pay Leap Frog, which proved challenging to do in Spanish while also trying to keep them rounded up. After a couple of tries, I was able to run the game successfully. Everyone had fun, and they insisted that I play along with them. The fruit tasted delicious after all of that activity outside, and our conversation turned into a discussion of what they loved most about summer.
At 11:00 a.m. school ended early and the students were picked up by their parents. We headed to Rafaela´s for a traditional lunch celebrating the arrival of Holy Week. We enjoyed a delicious vegetarian soup usually served on Fridays during Lent called sopa de queso. It´s made with corn, milk, carrots, garlic, onion, cilantro, three differnt kinds of fried cheese fritters, rice, and platanos. I absolutely loved the soup and had no trouble consuming two bowls of it. While I ate, I reflected on how grateful I am for the meals Ana has been preparing for us each day, and that this particular group of people from two different countries is gathered to enjoy it all.
After lunch, we boarded the bus once more to return to the artisan market in Masaya for our last chance to buy gifts for family and friends back home. I had compiled a long list since our first visit last week. The mercado itself is fascinating because it is huge and sprawling, a maze of long aísles lined with stalls and vendors offering a wide variety of goods. Many of the vendors were kind and I had short conversations with them. We only had a hour for the market today, but I managed to find all of the things I wanted for my family, friends, and myself.
From the market, our bus began a slow climb to the rim of a volcanic lagoon. At some point long ago, this volcano blew its top in what must have been a massive eruption. Over time, the dormant crater filled with water from underground springs. Standing on the rim of a once active volcano was breathtaking enough, but the view was almost indescribable as we looked down into the clear blue water. To our right (south) loomed the volcano Mombacho, with active fumeroles along its flanks. Across the lagoon, looking east, we saw the city of Granada glittering in the afternoon sun, and beyond it, Lake Colcibolca stretching away towards distant mountains. Around the lagoon we could see a few houses amongst the trees and along part of the rim was a stone-and-brick trail to allow easy access to the view. There was a cool, refreshing breeze that offered a stark contrast to Managua´s unrelenting heat. This was the most beautiful place we visited during our whole trip.
We returned to La Nicaragüita just in time for an encuentro with the senior class (11th grade here). They served us iced tea and pizza, and then the dancing began. For an hour and a half we danced to loud music ranging from salsa to pop, both Latin and American. We had a great time hanging out with our Nicaraguan peers, and by 8:00 p.m. our host families arrived to walk us home in the soft moonlight.