14 December 2014
Another Reality… My Own.
I’ve returned to the United States after having spent the last three and a half months in Central America. First reactions? I miss my group. Prices are expensive. The cold air is refreshing.
Our group went our separate ways last Saturday, early in the morning. A large group of us flew out that morning to head back to the States. Others stayed on to continue to travel, and two others had flights later in the day. Saying good bye is never easy. Nor is it easy to wonder if you’ll actually ever see someone again. For those in my group, I surely hope that I see them again, and more than once. This past week has been busy with travel. Here’s a thorough recap…
… My alarm goes off. I look at my phone and it says 04:10. I get up and pull on the shorts and gray button up shirt I had worn the day before. I look over to the bed next to mine and see that Adam is still laying there (he has to leave at 04:30). I nudge him, he stirs, and I let him know that he has to leave in twenty minutes. I walk out to the main room to see Molly already eating breakfast; she’s always on time. More people roll in, sleepy-eyed and yawning. It’s 4 in the morning, and as I later found out, some of us went to bed at around 3 (that’s why Adam didn’t get up until twenty after 4). 04:30 comes around and it’s time. One last good-bye. Well, I would rather think of it as saying, until we meet again. For I hope that we all do see one another down the road. It’s in moments such as those, when you are forced to part ways, you begin to wonder where the time went. How could it become 8 December already? Wasn’t yesterday 20 August? Didn’t we just celebrate Independence Day in Xela just the other week? Oh yeah, we still have two more countries to go… Nope.
First group photo. [Photo Credit: CB]
Last group photo. [Photo Credit: CB]
In the moment, I didn’t feel the sadness as I said my good-byes and embraced everyone in one last hug wishing them safe travels back to their homes in the United States. It wasn’t until later that day, in Masaya, that I realized just how much I would miss my group, my second family. The relationships and community that we had fostered and forged over the 110 days we spent together in Central America are connections that are grounded in love and support for one another.
Later that day in Masaya, I am sitting on the front porch of the hostel that Anna and I are staying at, and we are reminiscing about the semester, and injecting our conversation with phrases that would be typical of others in our group. I also pull out my cellphone to check my Facebook. I see that there are a couple posts in our CGE Fall 12 Facebook group and find that they are posts from some that are now solo, realizing what it is like to be without the group. I realize that I would be the same way if it we not for Anna joining me in Masaya to visit with Quinn and Jonathan. Even still, a lump appears in my throat as I read the posts aloud to Anna.
We spend the rest of the weekend and all of Monday in Masaya with Quinn and Jonathan. Quinn and Jonathan are a young couple from California who have moved down to Nicaragua to begin a socially-minded business. Theirs is a business selling bracelets: a notebook is given to child in Nicaragua for each bracelet sold. They show us around Masaya, a town known for its handicrafts. We also make our way to a view of Lake Masaya as well as a baseball game. Their business not only has the mission of giving children the tools to an education, but also a business of inspiring others to do what they love. Life Out of the Box, is just that, out of the box; follow your dreams; nonconformist; what you do to make some call you crazy but you still do it because it’s something that you love to do. Through their model of giving back for each purchase, they are hoping to put a notebook in the hands of a child that may lead to a better education, or even spark something within them to follow their dreams.
From Masaya, Anna and I headed to Granada to meet up with our groupmate, Nola, for one last soirée before Nola and I headed home on Thursday. Our time in Granada was spent purchasing last-minute gifts and reminiscing about our group and our experiences in Central America. It was nice to regroup, even if it was just the three of us. We spoke about how our group grew and strengthened over time, helping us to realize just how much we enjoyed everyone. We spoke of how to go back to the United States and share our experiences in a kind and responsible manner. How do we navigate this world, that is often corrupt and fucked up, and not let ourselves become burned out? How do we learn about realities of struggle, oppression, and inequality, and then go on to do something about it? Perhaps those answers will only come with time.
And now, I am here. Sitting in a rocking chair, next to the fire, in my camp in the Adirondacks. Just the other day I put iodine in my water bottle because in Central America you can’t turn on the tap and fill up your cup. This is the reality I live, but how do I reconcile the reality I live, as well as the realities that surround me (capitalism, consumerism, money, media), with the realities that I learned of and experienced in Central America? I also do not want to forget the stories of those who I met along the way. My answer at this moment? Be conscious. Be present. Act in solidarity with those struggling in Central America, in the Global South, in oppression, in poverty. The world will never be perfect in my lifetime, but there are actions I can do to help create positive change that may amount to global equality in the future. There are also many things that the developed world and the United States can learn from Central America. A couple thoughts: use public transportation and buy local.
To say that Central America didn’t change me would be a complete lie. To say that creating positive change will be easy, would be another complete lie. Nor will my answers and thoughts come to fruition at this moment, for I am still processing my experience in Central America and will probably continue to process my experience for quite some time. With the people I met and the experiences I had in Guatemala, El Salvador, and Nicaragua, come memories and solidarity. With my group, the 14 of us from around the United States, comes a community, a family. I hope to see all of you again, and to be able to look back on our experiences together in Central America, or maybe even, to travel with you again. I am reminded of the family of friends that my parents made when studying in the Philippines during the 1980s. We get together with them each year to celebrate New Year’s Eve, and have been doing such a thing for as long as I can remember. Thirty years later and the family of friends from the Philippines still reconvene and are connected. Hopefully that will happen to us.
Peace and love from upstate New York!