June 2, 2008
Moriah A. Gavrish
I have the privilege to close this team journal for the NUVA Nicaragua 2008 trip. It has been an amazing 3 weeks and I know there are mixed feelings about leaving Nicaragua and returning home as we sit on our final flight from Cleveland to Burlington.
Last night we had a group dinner across the street from our hostel in Granada. After dinner we sat together for a group reflection. No one is denying that there were ups and downs on the trip; that’s expected with a group of 15 in a developing country. But the reflection last night wasn’t about any of that; it was about the parts of the trip that changed people and about how we made a difference in each community we worked with. As the group reflection progressed there was laughing, crying, and some very deep and reflective comments. We talked about everything we learned and the things we won’t forget.
No, we didn’t change the world. No one expected us to. But we engaged in cultural exchange while participating in service projects that did make a difference to at least a few small communities in Nicaragua. We made friends. We grew as individuals. We made a difference. Until next year…
“I am only one, but still I am one. I cannot do everything, but still I can do something. I will not refuse to do the something I can do.” ~Helen Keller, American Writer & Activist
June 2, 2008
Well, a lot has happened since I last wrote in the journal. We said goodbye to our new friends in San Ramon, survived food poisoning, and a hurricane in Ometepe. Our last few days in Granada was amazing! There was beautiful colonial architecture throughout the city and the Hostel Oasis was amazing! It is now 8pm on Monday and we are descending into Burlington on the last leg of our journey. My thoughts keep returning to my host family and many friends in San Ramon. I have already received multiple emails and even a phone call from my host sister Jiovannia and her friends MiKhalis and Elvis. They expressed how much the missed our group from Norwich and how they consider us their favorite group to have been in San Ramon. I was also touched by a small reflection that our friend Kris gave last night about how we have changed his perception of Norwich. Well we are landing and I am out of time, until next year….Viva Nicaragua!
June 2, 2008
Well we’re on the plane heading back to Vermont and I keep thinking about how different it will be. I started this trip really just wanting to be home so I could try to recover from a very difficult year. By the time the end of the year for me came around I was so exhausted with everything that I wasn’t as “into” the trip as I should have been, but while I was there I was able to forget about a lot of the things that had happened throughout the year and almost relax a little as I got to know my host family and the team a little better. Now looking back, it seems to have been just a worn memory that I can’t really place. I had a great time with my host family and with all the different service projects, but I still feel that we didn’t do enough or should have stayed longer. Though I am very excited to be returning home I am already starting to worry about all the problems I had left behind in May and missing the peace that came with the Nicaraguan lifestyle.
Anyway, this trip has been an amazing experience for me and I am interested to see just how much it changes me when I return and everything sinks in. As for now, Adios!
June 2, 2008
Well after a 3:30 am wake-up call and 2 flights already down, we’ve just boarded our 3rd and final plane which is scheduled to arrive in Burlington at 8:45.
Fortunately, everyone has plans as to where they’re going once we arrive back in Vermont and we’ve successfully gotten through customs, despite, Fabbo’s interrogation over some Cuban Cigars she attempted to get over the border in Houston.
Now that we’ve all eaten, our spirits are once again up and recharged, even after our tearful goodbye with Joyce’s mom, Luis, Israel, Ariel, Mercedes, and Kayla (Jose’s sister) earlier this morning.
As for my feelings about our return, I’m a bit torn. Our team had a great reflection meeting last night with the Planting Hope staff and as with most other trips I’ve experienced with different groups; it seems the team’s dynamic has only gotten stronger and more upbeat.
I’m looking forward to reading all the team participants program evaluations and determining ways in which we can improve future trips with Planting Hope. Just by glancing briefly through the evals I’ve received, it seems all team members would recommend this experience to their friends. All in all I’d say this trip and our experience overall has been successful. I’m already looking forward to sharing our experiences with folks back at Norwich and seeing our friends from Nicaragua in January when they visit!
Thank you to everyone who’s been with us on this journey by following our blog. Keep in touch and feel free to contact our Office of Volunteer Programs at Norwich at firstname.lastname@example.org to find out more about our NU VISIONS Abroad Program and our partnership with Planting Hope.
June 1, 2008
It’s our last night here…kind of sad, yet I’m excited to fly home back to Cabot, Vermont. We had a relaxing last day at this beautiful hotel. Chris, Kailey, Andrew and I lounged around, goofing about in our hotel room. I have made really good friends here, everyone is wonderful. Ometepe was a hard time. Kailey and I got sick to our stomachs, we spent Thursday in bed, and Friday at the hospital. We were quite a sight, hadn’t showered for a couple of days, just rolled out of bed, greasy hair, and basically looked like we were dying. Even though it was somewhat of a traumatic experience we felt a lot better afterward. It’s good just to relax. We went swimming today in the pool at the hotel. I got out to grab my camera and I fell, slipped to be exact and banged myself up, very embarrassing, oh lordy. It was quite horrible, stupid me.
June 1, 2008
This trip is soon coming to an end so I will be in Estados Unidas soon. Yay! But, I will miss Nicaragua for all the zip-lining we did, Ometepe, the tours we went on, the long walks on the beach, the idea of the island life, and nothing much like paradise and seeing a palm tree. Ometepe was okay but since we came into the city of Granada I fell in love with it. It is so cool. I can’t wait to actually look on the Internet and see the journals and read the excitement we had in Nicaragua.
May 31, 2008
It was a very sad day the day we left our families in San Ramon. Lots of feelings and emotions went through my head. All the good memories on our trips; all the jokes with my family, good conversations with people in San Ramon, the bus stuck in El Chile, and so on.
It was a very sad day but also a feeling of joy came to me when I imagined coming back to San Ramon some time soon. The possibility that some of my host brothers and sisters will come to visit me in Panama in July. Also, the feeling that we accomplished something in our time in Nicaragua is very rewarding.
So long San Ramon, you always will have a place in my heart.
Now we are in Ometepe, a beautiful island in Nicaragua. It’s has been a blast so far, being able to relax and enjoy the enviornment.
I have made great friendships with people in Nicaragua, especially the host family members that came with us on this trip,
There is not too much time left for us in Nicaragua. I will deeply miss it, however I’m looking forward to so many possibilities to come back or to know new lands in central and South America.
So long Nicaragua, you always will have a place in my heart.
May 30, 2008
It is now our final night in Ometepe. The “vacation” part of the trip has not been quite that for some members of the group; since yesterday morning more than half the group has thrown up at least once. There was a lot of rain yesterday and many activities were slightly dampened, literally.
Today we woke up to some beautiful weather and a good prospect for the trip today. First we went to bring a couple sick group members to the medical clinic and then to a petrogliphs museum. A delicious lunch and refreshing swim at Charco Verde, then another swim at Ojo de Agua and a different place for dinner finished off a decent day.
It did rain a little, but nothing really bad. The bugs are really, really, really bad here and that is getting on my nerves. Not mosquitoes or biting flies or anything, just a ton of ants, beetles of any kind, spiders, flying things, and many other creepy crawly bugs in my bed, in my hair, in my clothes, and no escape anywhere. Some are even immune to the 100% deet we have coated ourselves in.
A part of me really misses my home stay family and a part of me wants to be back in the U.S. right now. But I am still having a good time and looking forward to zip-lining tomorrow!
May 29, 2008
We’re in Ometepe now. Yesterday was a lot harder than I expected. It was pretty sad to leave all our friends in San Ramon. But we all exchanged e-mail addresses and Shiel and I promised to speak Spanish if we cam back next year.
We are now in our hotel room waiting for the horses to come so we can horseback ride to the petrigliffs. It’s pouring right now, and has been since we got here. This afternoon we are all hoping for massages here at the hotel.
This trip has had a huge effect on everyone involved. Andrew has decided he needs dreads. Shiel, Andrew and myself are tempted to sell everything we have and move down here to make jewelry and dance, dance, dance. Needless to say we’re just loving life!
The horses are here! See ya!
May 29, 2008
I think it’s Thursday, but I’m not sure of the exact date. Yesterday was a long travel day, and I have not been feeling well. I have had a fever off and on and a pulsating throbbing headache. Everyone else has been ill on this trip except me, until yesterday or the day before, but my symptoms seem to be different. I haven’t had any stomach problems or diarrhea.
This has been as wonderful as I anticipated and even more so. I never expected to meet and speak with President Ortega. It was an honor to get to do that. He seems very humble, very sincere, and honest. Although many people don’t like him, he certainly has done more for Nicaragua and Nicaraguans then anyone else. Relations between Nicaragua and the U.S. on the diplomatic level seem precarious and strained but President Ortega is committed to reconciliation with everybody. High gas, oil, food, and utilities prices are affecting all Nicaraguans in ways that are not just inconvient but detrimental. I pray God will bless Nicaragua even as the people look to him for wisdom and guidance. One thing that President Ortega promised the people of San Ramon was a new church. Some people in our group thought this was an unnecessary extravagance, but the church is packed at every service and many many people have to stand. At church on Sunday morning during the offering many people brought among their offerings foods for the poorer. There were probably fifty small bags of rice and beans and cheese that people not so well off brought for people even less well off. I explained to my Nicaraguan family and friends that in the U.S. because of our so-called separation clause with respect to church and state, no president would ever offer to build a community a church.
Estela and Laura have accompanied us to Ometepe, but with my up and down fever I am not such great company. I already miss Clark and the rest of the family. Samurai did not see me off because he went to the campo to keep my brother-in-law company as he guards the family’s harvest from thieves.
I am already looking forward to coming back next year. One day I will make this trip alone so that I can just spend time with my family…
May 29, 2008
Yesterday we had to say “see ya later” to our host families in San Ramon. I can’t believe how fast our two weeks flew by with them. Our group has been the longest home stays for the families, while other groups only stayed 5-7 days, we stayed 15. Needless to say there were a lot of people in tears. It was hard to say “see ya later” to a place that has been my home for the past few weeks. (I’m saying “see ya later” because I don’t want to say goodbye because I know that I will be seeing my Nicaraguan family and friends again.) The night before was a bittersweet fiesta. We had a lot of fun but there was that black cloud looming over the evening. We danced until we got kicked out because of closing, and then some members in the group danced some more. Once our “see ya laters” were in order we set off for a long day of travel; a four-hour bus ride, an hour and fifteen minute ferry ride, and then another hour bus ride until we finally arrived at our resort. After the room situation was figured out we ordered dinner an hung out until it was ready. After an okay dinner we had a short meeting where our options for activities for the next day were presented. Most people decided that they wanted to go horseback riding. Once the meeting was over Moriah, Lakey and I had fun playing childhood games like Mash and Last People Left on Earth. We also casted the Real World, Ometepe style with the people on our trip and we’re going to film it today if the rain doesn’t stop. Last night I didn’t sleep to well, Fabbio (Nicole F.) and Lakey were fighting over the bathroom. Not literally but they were trying to find out who could throw their guts up first, the winner has still yet to be decided. Well I’m going to go get ready for horseback riding…
May 29, 2008
Wow! Nicaragua has been an amazing experience! To start off, yesterday we said our goodbyes to our host families and the town of San Ramon. I could honestly say that I will never forget the people who made this experience the best!
Well let’s not get too emotional. We are now on Ometepe Island. Well now we are in heaven! I mean, it’s raining and all, but who could really say that they were staying on an island in the middle of two volcanoes? Not many people could. I really think that the tension between certain people within the group has calmed down due to the fact that we now have all the pressure and stress gone and all we have to do is relax.
Now we are just waiting until the rain cools down so we can start the real fiesta!
Que viva Nicaragua!
May 28, 2008
All right! Vacation time! We are sitting here at our hotel in Ometepe waiting for our food that we ordered about an hour ago. The last time I boiled pasta it took about 15 minutes so I’m not quite sure what is taking so long, but whatever. It’s nice here though. There is a nice breeze blowing and the rain is a little noisy on the tin roof but that’s nothing new. Apparently I’m not the only one that wants their food. Kailey is “angry hungry”, Amy doesn’t think the food is coming and John is ridiculous. Okay I am rambling now so I am going to go participate in the dance, dance, dancing and wait for my food. Hey! It’s here now, awesome! Gotta go eat! See ya!
May 28, 2008
Today we left San Ramon and said goodbye to our host families. The trip was worth ever penny so far. We are no on the ferry to Ometepe. Everyone is very excited to get a nice break and enjoy some rest and relaxation. The ferry ride so far has been interesting. We are in airline seats bolted to the floor in A/C watching 80’s love song music videos. It gets a bit annoying after a while but the music is actually a nice background while riding on the boat. Ometepe is getting close and the 80’s music is starting to get on my nerves, let the good times roll. Cheers.