Arrival in Nicaragua

14 Dec

Although traveling with a heavy heart from saying goodbye to family and friends, my flights to Nicaragua on Saturday night (Dec. 3rd) and then Sunday morning ( Dec. 4th) went as scheduled. I arrived in Atlanta on Sunday morning eager to meet up with my fellow JVs living in Nica with me and with much anticipation; we boarded our Delta flight together and landed in Nicaragua to current Nica JVs jumping up and down in excitement outside of the airport’s walls. We loaded up Fr. Joe’s, our In-Country Coordinator, truck and headed to our respective houses to drop off our luggage. I had seen a couple of pictures of my house in Ciudad Sandino, but seeing it in person and being with the other JVs was really powerful and exciting. Our house, behind a fairly high wall/fence, is simple, but extremely spacious. There will be 5 (Me, the other 1st year, Elspeth, and the 2nd years – Adrienne, Bianca, and Tony) of us living in our house, each having our own bedroom and a bathroom to shared with one other person (minus Tony who has his own). We also have a guest room and bathroom, large closet for random things, a huge living area with our dining table, a good size kitchen, and even a large, green garden and porch! I really love the house and am eager to have a spacious, sanctuary from the busy surrounding areas of Nicaragua.

Monday (Dec. 5th) marked the start of In-Country Orientation and we’ve had a fairly busy week of various Nica, specific talks (Safety, Health, History of Nica, and Cultural Sensitivity) to help us 1st years gain greater understanding of the place we will soon grow to love and call home. This past week also enabled me to learn how to get around Ciudad Sandino and travel to the other JV house in La Luz, Managua (about a 45 minute commute). As some of you know, I will be working as an activities coordinator at Pajarito Azul. Pajarito is a residency and development organization for people with mental and physical disabilities, ranging from toddlers to adults. Some of the residents have been brought to Pajarito due to their families’ inability to meet their special needs and maintain contact while living at Pajarito, but a majority of the 93 have been abandoned. I am very lucky to have the current JV at my job/agency still here to learn the ropes! Her name is Andrea and she has been immensely helpful in introducing me to my work schedule, including my transportation for work—buses. Buses regularly hold as many people it can possibly hold (insert a picture of people in seats on either side of three rows of people standing in the aisle and even some people holding onto the bus’ side into your mind). Let’s just call it over 100 people at a given time. Yep, it’s QUITE crowded, but I don’t mind it. It will sure to be a good test in patience and meditation, especially when we hit the higher temperature months. Going to Pajarito for the first time was a truly wonderful experience. It was amazing to see the love and friendship Andrea has built with residents and co-workers and it makes me eager to start doing the same.

I have always had a passion for being with people with various special needs since my time working on Villanova’s Special Olympics Fall Festival and I believe my time in Pajarito will enable me to be with and accompany one of the most marginalized populations in the world. It is sure to be challenging, but is an experience I am eager to begin. I won’t begin to start working until January since I have a retreat this weekend at the beach, a homestay in our local neighborhood for 4 days, a homestay in a rural area of Nica for 4 days, Christmas, and language school from Dec. 26th- Jan. 2nd. As I mentioned before, December is proving to be very busy, but thus far has been an exciting transition and time in country.

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