Living in Nicaragua: Returning to Esteli

getting around in Nicaragua Living in Nicaragua: Returning to Esteli

In April 2014, I returned from Nicaragua where I volunteered with the sustainable development charity, Raleigh International.

I really fell in love with Nicaragua; the people are incredibly friendly and the country is just beautiful. Even though I didn’t speak Spanish, whilst volunteering abroad, I built up a strong relationship with my Nicaraguan host family, especially my host mother, and I was really made to feel a part of the family. Even before I left, they kept asking when I would return. So at the end of 2014, I decided to embark on a backpacking trip through Central America to learn Spanish and to see my Nicaraguan family again.

As excited as I was to return, I found myself feeling apprehensive too; what if they didn’t remember me? I shouldn’t have worried! I got on the bus in Esteli, the local town, and saw the community leader Juancito and his wife on the bus waving and saying hello. My ‘Mum’ and little sister ran towards me and greeted me with a big hug. After reaching their home and having my first of many cups of coffee, I realised that nothing had changed between us.

As excited as I was to return, I found myself feeling apprehensive too; what if they didn’t remember me?

A major test was when I went to pee; the project that I worked on with Raleigh had been to build and raise awareness about eco latrines. It’s often difficult to tell how successful projects are until they are sustained and maintained by the beneficiary community. I spoke to Juancito, who told me that the community had been very happy with them, and that more houses in the community were looking to build them.

Living in Nicaragua: Returning to Esteli

Living in Nicaragua: Returning to Esteli
Reunited!

I also saw the garden patch next door which I had helped dig. It was exploding with vegetables. I ate some of the produce for dinner, and it was very satisfying to eat organic vegetables from a patch I’d helped to prepare.

It was so nice to go around the community and see everyone again. I’m not surprised that Nicaragua is one of the happiest countries in the world; everyone is so chilled out and always has time to share a coffee with you.

Although it was lovely to return to the village, it was also a massive wake up call for me. The community had suffered a lack of rain and consequently crops had failed. Usually the community grows beans, potatoes, onions and other vegetables but during this harvest, only the tomatoes had survived, but with a much smaller crop than usual. Agriculture is the only source of income so it was really hard to see.

Though I originally planned to stay for two nights, my Mum and sister persuaded me to stay for eight nights!

My host brother is 14 and only goes to school on Saturdays, so throughout the week he has nothing to do but watch TV and mess around in the house. The lack of opportunities is really sad because the people all have so much potential. However the community members told me how grateful they were for the crops that had survived, and their positivity is definitely something that will stay with me.

I was sad to leave the community, but thrilled that I’d been able to spend time there.  I will always love my Nicaraguan family and feel like the community is my second home. Though I originally planned to stay for two nights, my Mum and sister persuaded me to stay for eight nights!

After leaving the community, I was also lucky enough to meet up with Pedro, who was my team leader on the project. I visited him in his hometown and it was surreal to see him and his home again.

I also managed to meet up with Pedro again in Granada.  When a woman I was travelling with asked him why he had travelled all the way to Granada to meet up, he simply answered, “Because she is my friend and in my country.”

Living in Nicaragua: Returning to Esteli

 

 

 

 

 

Living in Nicaragua: Returning to Esteli
With my friend Pedro

Living in Nicaragua: Returning to Esteli

 

 

About Meg Pickard

Meg PickardI grew up with parents who loved to travel and our family holidays were far from conventional to destinations as far a field as Mongolia. After gaining a Geography degree and getting involved in volunteering I have volunteered abroad both in Zambia and Nicaragua. I am currently backpacking in Latin America and falling in the love with experience.

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