Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Friends, I went on one of the best adventures of my life this weekend, not only great because it was on a volcanic island in the middle of Lake Nicaragua, but great because it was planned about 4 hours to us actually leaving and going. Those of you who know fine adventure know that the best ones are spontaneous and not well thought through. At 11:30 pm the night before, 4 of my roommates and I decided to go to Corn Island, which demands a plane ride. It never occurred to any of us that the 12 seater plane might already be booked by all the European hippies that wander around Nicaragua living off of their parents credit card and the money they make from selling crappy woven bracelets (among other things) on the street corner. After a two hour wait at the local airport to see if we could charter another plane (because for some reason, we couldn’t just call the pilot and ask) and the poor guy behind the counter having to use the calculator to see if there was any room left on the plane (I am not exaggerating. This happened), we were told that the plane was full and our dreams of laying on the Carribean, drinking out of a coconut, and finally seeing black people again were dashed. And thus, we ended up on Ometepe Island 8 hours later, sitting on a beach situated in between to majestic and terrifying volcanoes, toes curled up in the sand as the monkeys howled greetings from the trees. However, this was after 8 hours of public transportation, which meant a bus ride of standing up down a bumpy road, constantly falling into the waiting arms of the teenage boy in front of me or using the shiny bald head of the man sitting down next to me as leverage. I made both a boyfriend and an enemy on that trip. I rented a horse and galloped full speed down the beach, crashing through the surf with my ponytail flying behind me. I dove deep into a natural spring, and found myself thinking, “I have been here before. About twenty years ago, in my imagination. This is the kind of place you pretend you are as a kid swimming in the neighborhood pool.” In short, it was a feast for my senses. However, that adventure compares little to daily life. Strapping up a hammock on the front porch a house held together by tarps and sticks and waking up to little brown faces peering at you, grinning, beats the heck out of a soft bed and the whir of an air conditioner. Bathing out of a bucket with nothing but chacos on and looking up seeing the sparking stars strewn across a purple sky makes showering under a shower head seem contrite. Having my feet washed by the women in the village because they didn’t want me to return to America with dirty toes is far better than any pedicure a spa can offer. The conversations that have wound on and on sitting in a plastic chair on a dirt porch have formed the person that I am, and that I will be. I know that I won’t ever play Phase Ten again without being brought back to Lucia’s house, sitting on broken chairs, throwing cards on a table made from cinderblocks and pieced up plywood, drinking cold beer from plastic cups. A part of me will always answer to the name “Osita”, which means “little bear” and is what 272 familes in El Chonco have labeled me with since day 1, 5 years ago. I am overwhelmed by the blessings I have experienced throughout my time here. There are far too many hearts here that hold mine together to count, and I am grateful for the people that have made me who I am. They have changed me forever. And I will carry their hearts with me as I return home in July, this time not just for a few weeks visit. After a ton of prayer and equal amount tears, I realize that God is calling me home. I have spent three wonderful years- and the two summers prior to that- invested in an incredible place. I have learned more than I know how to ever adequately explain, and I love more fiercely than I would have before. I come back to Atlanta with those blessings. I am super grateful to all of you who have supported me over this journey and this decision. From front porch conversations to prayers on the run to encouraging emails and phone calls and monetary support, I couldn’t have done it without the incredible community of all of you. I am beyond excited to get to return to that everyday. What a gift. My love and thanks. I will see you all in July.

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