Spring break 2018, I had the opportunity of going to Nicaragua on a service learning trip. I have always been a travel fanatic. I LOVE to travel. Did anyone say road trip? count me in! I would spend my last dime on traveling if I could. Once I found out about the trip, I was so excited. I started Spanish lessons and started learning about the culture and people. I also started saving for my trip. It was a group of ten students and three facilitators. It took us an entire day to get there. I had a long trip to Nicaragua. Once I walked out of the airplane I felt at home. The humidity, the smiling faces; it felt so good to be in another country. Being greeted with a warm heart and unfamiliar faces. My plan before arrival was to indulge in all things Nicaraguan. We arrived in the night and we got to stay in a luxurious hotel. The next day I got to eat some local food which was so good. The food, culture, and environment were so refreshing.
The purpose of this trip was to help build a water system in a community, "La Guitarria". The group of us slept in hammocks for four nights. The experience is one to remember. There was no electricity or phone service. In the mornings we would get up early to milk cows. I must say, I knew nothing about milking cows but after the four nights in the community, I’m now a professional. I also had the opportunity of squeezing fresh milk into my coffee. It was such an amazing experience. I also got to grind corn and molding it into a dough consistency, then I would press it out to make tortillas. These are some skill that I will cherish forever.
It was invigorating to be in a new country among nature and animals and away from the hustle and bustle of city life. Waking up to the sound of cows, pigs, and chickens, I must say it was quite the experience. With the little Spanish we knew, we were able to make small talk with the locals and we were able to build a bond with the people of the community and especially the kids. Only a few people from our group knew the language. At times they would be our translators. As for me, I only knew the basics. Hola! The children were very eager to learn English, so we would teach them English and, in turn, they would teach us a few Spanish phrases.
I would encourage all people, especially college students, to travel to other countries. You learn so much from traveling. What I would say to people who are hesitant to travel is to just go. There is so much out there for people to experience. One of the greatest lessons I've learned from this trip is that love is universal. You don’t need to know the language to feel the love. Also, I learned to never judge a place without first experiencing it. There is much more than the eyes can see.
Whenever I lay in the hammock that I bought in Nicaragua, there are so many memories that I reminisce about. I know that those memories can never be bought, and they will forever be unique to me. Traveling opens your eyes to life lessons you might never learn in a book.
Fun fact: I got to sail through Lake Nicaragua which is the largest lake in central America.