I traveled to Nicaragua a week earlier than Lisa to visit with my friends and family in Nicaragua. Over the last week I had 30+ hours of travel, between my flights to Nicaragua, buses around Nicaragua, and a 10 hour bus trip from Managua to San Jose, Costa Rica. During this time I was able to reflect on my last 2 years of service with the Peace Corps and get excited about all the new places Lisa and I will be visiting. The only conclusion I reached so far is that I have enjoyed the last 5 years experiencing the variety that the world has to offer, and that I am not ready to settle back into the routine of an 8-5 in the states. I don’t yet know where I will end up, or what I will do, but I have 7 months to see and experience a collection of cities where I may want to live.
My time in Nicaragua was brief, a couple of days in Managua visiting with friends, and 3 days in Matiguás, the town where I served with Peace Corps. Coming back to Nicaragua felt more like coming home than returning to San Francisco did in May. This was definitely a surprise to me, though after living abroad for almost 5 years in latin cultures, maybe it shouldn’t have. I was extremely disapointed when I arrived to Matiguás to find that the volunteer who replaced me had left Peace Corps and returned to the states. This is always a difficult decision for a volunteer to make, and a very personal one. I am not upset that he made the decision to leave, but because of the impact that will have on the schools where he was continuing the ground work that I began during my service. I am hopeful that the teachers in the community will be able to pull together and finish the school year and run the local business competition without the help of a volunteer, but it is a large task for the teachers who do not have much experience planning these types of events.
After spending my first day in Matiguás slightly depressed about the turn of events, I went on a walk around town with one of the two girls I was living with during my service. When I arrived in 2013, she was struggling with school and failing 3 of her classes due to some personal challenges she was facing. Over the course of my 2 years I spent many hours helping her with her homework, along with her mother and grandmother. More than anything I tried to explain to her the importance of getting an education. While on our walk I asked how her classes were going and her face lit up. She told me of all of her exams, the lowest marks she received was a 37 out of 40. Hearing this broke me out of the funk that I was in and I realized again how much more Peace Corps service is than the primary projects we work on. It is about the relationships that we build and the changes that we can help to make in the lives of the people we interact with. I left Matiguás feeling happy and content although it was sad as always to say goodbye to my adopted Nicaraguan family.
Now it’s time to pack up my bags and hop on a bus down to Costa Rica to meet up with Lisa. Every stop from here on will be a new experience for me.