March 13 – 14
With only three more full days remaining for our trip in Nicaragua, the truth that we soon will be departing is finally starting to settle in. Our days are definitely numbered, so it has become more and more crucial for us to take in every moment we have left.
Yesterday afternoon, we once again returned to La Nicaragüita to help with the older students. Early on in our classes, we were informed that a woman who was an abuela to a handful of La Nicaragüita students- and who lived nearby- had passed away less than an hour ago. Each class began to collect money to give to the mourning family as part of the Nicaraguan tradition of looking after one’s neighbors. In the last class period of the day, Maia, Tali, Philip, and I all ended up in the tenth graders’ classroom and were talking with Tatiana and her friend Cheysa about love and romance (don’t worry, nothing weird). This was also when I found out that I should grow out my beard for a month because it would—according to Tatiana and Cheysa—look good. Maia and Tali both futilely tried to dissuade their Nicaraguan friends that I should stay clean-shaven, but they nor Philip was having any of it.
In the evening, we had another encuentro, but this time with ninth grade. They had really gone all out with the decorations with streamer chains, discotheque lights, and balloon clusters. They had even prepared their own playlist for us to dance to, but we were unable to hear it because we prioritized respect for the mourning family over our own desires to dance. Fortunately for us, the ninth graders had also managed to successfully setup –and receive approval for –a mini-fiesta at one of their houses for us to dance and sing karaoke at (and, yes, Cheri and Tom were both there). At the party, Tali showed off her impeccable dancing skills while the rest of us roamed about, still trying to nail down the Latin dance style. Some of the Nicaraguans were trying to teach Alexander and Philip some dance moves, but you’d have to ask them to find out how well it went (but I can say that it definitely would not have gone well if it were me). During karaoke, we sang both popular English and Spanish songs (like Love Me Like You Do, Locked Away Despacito, and Safari). Alex C was particularly emphatic when we sang Don’t Stop Believin’ together, and Cheri even participated when some of us sang our rendition of Te Fuiste De Aquí: a song she plays for her students when learning the preterite tense.
This morning, we returned to our usual classes at La Nicaragüita, but not to our usual schedules; today is el Día Deportivo (Sports Day) at La Nicaragüita, so both sections of the school get time to participate in some form of athletic competition (the exception being Alyssa’s grade with whom she had to stay back because they’re too young). The highlight of the games was the set of chimbomba competitions where each team had to run out to a chair –one by one –and sit down on their balloon to pop it (or have an older student or faculty member bounce them up and down on the balloon if they didn’t weigh enough to pop the balloon). Niccolo’s grade was pitted against mine, and we were saved for last in both of our teams. Niccolo had no trouble with popping his balloon, but I more or less barreled into my chair instead of stopping at it (spoiler: Niccolo won). Just check out the photo and you’ll understand my dilemma.
Following our classes, we went to the local health clinic to put up the posters we had colored in as well as clean up the walls. Niccolo, Alexander, and I ended up doing the majority of the taping-down-the-posters portion of the work as we’re the tallest students on the trip, so the others cleaned up here and there and had Tom help them re-make some bulletin boards about family planning and health recommendations for expecting mothers.
As I write this blog, we’re all recuperating the energy we’ve expended thus far during this exceptionally hot and draining day, preparing ourselves mentally and physically for the second half of el Día Deportivo in which we’ll be competing against the older Nicaraguan students.