Hola everyone! I am writing my first blog post from my new bedroom here in Ciudad Sandino! Since my arrival last Wednesday my life has been a whirlwind full of sweating, trying to speak and understand Spanish, meeting Nicaraguans, riding buses, learning the history of Nicaragua, killing cockroaches the size of corn on the cob, moving into a new house and figuring out what it means to be a Jesuit Volunteer. It’s different being a new place where I don’t know anyone. All of the second year JV’s have been great and the other newbies have been as well; however, I think that it will take some time for Nicaragua to feel like home to me, especially considering the language barrier that I am trying to cross. On Saturday night I finished unpacking and my room now feels like the first place that I can call home. I’m grateful for that. The rest will come with time and with small steps. Paso a paso, right?
On Friday I went to Pajarito Azul for the first time and I loved it! (Pajarito Azul is the home for kids and adults with disabilities where I will be working for the next two years.) I was greeted with so many hugs and smiles that I couldn’t help but feel that I was in the right place. I have often heard that a person needs a certain number of hugs everyday and after being at Pajarito for a mere fifteen minutes I was sure that day in and day out I would be receiving so much love just through hugs.
After being showered with hugs from all of these residents, I went with some future co-workers and a small group of residents on a field trip to a nearby town called Nagarote. We went to Nagarote because we had a particular mission: to eat quesillos, a “tasty” Nicaraguan treat that Nagarote is famous for. I was pretty excited about trying this new food and after walking around town for a few hours I was ready to eat. However, once the quesillo was placed in front of me, I wasn’t as sure of my hunger. Quesillos are essentially an oversized, flavorless string cheese topped with onions and some mayonnaise-like substance (I was later told that it was sour cream but I still have my doubts) and wrapped in a tortilla. Yum!…. not. I stared at the plate and knew I had to go for it so I ate a few bites out of politeness but was unable to eat the whole thing. I’ve been told by the second years that quesillos are an acquired taste so the day that I crave one of those or enjoy eating it, I will let you know. Even though I did not particularly enjoy my quesillo, I had a wonderful day and feel very blessed that I was placed at Pajarito. Although it is still very early on in my JV experience, I think that the people at Pajarito are going to be a constant source of joy for me. I can only hope that it will become a home for me as well.
Before I conclude my first blog entry I wanted to offer a ginormous thank you to everyone back home. My final month in the U.S. was filled with so many thoughtful goodbyes, heartfelt words, and genuine love, all of which I will carry with me as I continue to settle into life here. You all are in my heart…. thanks for everything.