nicaragua: monday + tuesday

so after an o’hare fiasco of missed flights and missing luggage, i made it down to nicaragua a day late. but it worked out for the best, i was able to catch that everything absent or distorted show, and monday was spent reconnecting with people and watching the crew roll in piece by piece.

tuesday is when we got the party started… last year i wrote “a point comes when it feels like home” and this year there was such famaliarity – even though a lot of people were new friends, sleepily padding out to breakfast in a tee shirt and no makeup was in itself a comfort. people were smiling.

we headed stright into la chureca on the first day… this year we spent the majority of our time inside its walls instead of ducking inside for one day among everything else we were doing. our day started at the school

where we split into groups and went to visit families with whom our organizations have built relationships over the last few years. we each took three or four little plants to put in their gardens and aimed to spread the love to as many homes as we could in the next several hours.

i have not had much experience going into people’s homes to visit; in my other times here we’ve mostly been in the field and at the school. behind the outer wall (pictured above) these homes are swept clean and the ingenuity is so apparent, wait till you see the hanging gardens later –

fernanda jumped right into the family life and charmed the kids (and nana)

we got to planting. one of the girls in this home was totally into it

and we had some special bonding. it was ADORABLE.

not every home has a building like that first one. this home has the sleeping quarters in a lean-to shelter

and a separate area for washing.

the day was filled with simple pleasures. i can’t even tell you how pleased a lot of these people were to receive these tiny plants, add these thumbnail sized purple blossoms to their existing gardens.

traveling up the road and around the bend, the view from what is literally the top of a mountain of trash seems lovely at first

until you see the tires and Jesus-knows-what floating in the water

and then you find another home painstakingly carved into the rubble. this pregnant woman maintains a garden full of basil and other herbs

in the front garden she had cut two-liter bottles and had hanging gardens

and we also ran into my own angel, elana

she’s a sweet girl who i’ve connected with every time i’ve been here… i was selfishly very nervous that she wouldn’t remember me. it’s been two years, you know? and she’s a typical kid, chasing after a puppy and contented to be in her own world of fun. i held my breath, snuck a few photos, and thanked God that i even saw her again, that i can know that even though she’s not out of here yet, she’s got some good in her life. she’s reasonably healthy and smiling, and i realize again how every person on this earth is in my family. i feel maternal towards her, towards all these people.

the activities were winding down, the plants had been distributed, and austin had found a friend (they’re both adorable, don’t you think?)
P1010114 P1010116

we all walked back to the school together, and on the way back elana danced around us and a minute later jumped into my arms

this little sister is one of the great loves of my life.

back at the ranch we had a shower and dinner and prepared ourselves for tomorrow, which is going to be a huge field day with potato sack races and prizes and family-oriented fun

and WATER BALLOON TOSSING. mayhem. mayhem. mayhem.


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