I didn’t know what to expect of this trip, I had no knowledge of the country, and as a twelve years old boy I was just looking for an adventure. Arriving to a new country gives you goosebumps of excitement and nervousness, for sure I got that. Feeling the warm breeze after stepping outside of the plane sure does make you smile. First I noticed the similarities and differences of this country to the countries I have already seen. It had a similar separation of poverty and wealth like their neighbor country to the south, Costa Rica. However, the major difference between the two nations is that Nicaragua is suffering with more poverty and political instability.
We had family living in Managua and we had the opportunity to stay with them. It was my second time traveling to Nicaragua. The first time I was around one year old, therefore I don't remember anything. It was a joy to see my extended family again and I finally was able to make some memories with them. They took us around the city and I enjoyed the natural beauty surrounding Managua. Managua has a beautiful lake, Xolotlan, and also a volcano, Momotombo. Very close to the lake are the ruins of Managua from the earthquake of 1972.
We went to a local market and I had a sense of looking like a “surfer”, a little embarrassing but I was young with a wild imagination. After gearing up to look even more like a surfer, we headed to the beach. We stayed in a beautiful house and the first thing I did was to take a nap on the hammocks with a view of the beach.
During our stay at El Transito beach, I had an encounter that changed my perspective of life. I met a local boy. He wouldn’t speak to me, but he kept on smiling. Later I realized he suffered from a disability, and learned that his family didn’t have a proper home. The roof had holes and I wouldn’t even call it a house, it was one room, half the size of a closet. I wondered how he could smile that much, he seemed so happy. Every time he looked at me, his smile made me smile. The boy had flip flops that were torn in half, not completely covering his feet. I felt compelled to do something, even if it was a small thing. I gave him my flip flops. They were larger than his old ones, and would fit him longer. As he tried them on, his smile grew. I couldn’t believe it could get any bigger. His smile was cemented in my brain, and I realized the power of sharing a moment of joy through a simple expression. After my trip to the beach and my meeting the local boy, I realized and remembered the purpose of the trip. We were on a mission to help others.
Before leaving to Nicaragua my sisters and I started our own non-profit organization and made necklaces and bracelets made out of clay and to raise funds we sold them to kids in our elementary school. We raised $1000 to donate to a children's home in Nicaragua.
That was our main purpose for traveling to this beautiful country. When we arrived to the home/school we all were excited to finally be able to donate the money we raised, we knew it was going to help. Although we were saddened to see the location and the environmental conditions the kids had the go through while living there. The neighborhood was located close to a landfill. My family also brought toys to give to the kids. They smiled when they saw the toys and we smiled when they smiled, it was a chain reaction every time.
After our visit to the orphanage, we continued to explore the country. We visited Matagalpa in the north of the country. We stayed at a coffee plantation and it was so beautiful. I went hiking through the forest that surrounds the plantation. It felt at home and I enjoyed the nature and rural feeling of Matagalpa.
We also visited Granada, which is on the shores of the Lake Nicaragua or Cocibolca. One of the best moments of that trip was probably navigating in the freshwater lake that contains sharks and crocodiles in the same spot. It is very strange to have sharks in freshwater, something that scientists are still trying to understand. I was so interested in animals during this period of my life that I was so observant in trying to spot this magnificent creatures. The lake also contains many small and medium size islands, called isletas. There is a big island, Ometepe, containing two volcanoes, Concepcion and Maderas.
Another place we visited was Xiloa, which is another lake and has restaurants. We went to eat at night and it was a beautiful place. I wished we had more time to see.
Nicaragua is an underdeveloped nation that has a difficult history, but I believe it has a great future ahead.
written by Diego