Last night we were presented with a challenge. All 17 of us had to stand on a tarp and, without stepping off, had to flip it over. However, the people who had done it before were not allowed to speak. We were honestly kind of lost. We had some brainstorming discussions, tried a few techniques and pressed uncomfortably close to each other. Eventually we pulled three leaders off the tarp to direct us and finally got it flipped over. This brought us together as a group and showed us the importance of leadership and teamwork, and the balance between them. After evening circle and a good night’s rest, we awoke looking forward to visiting the kids at the school again. They were super excited to see us, running up with hugs and enthusiastic ‘hola’s’. Trying to convey the game of Red Light/Green Light in our halting combination of Spanish vocabulary and English was challenging, but soon they were all sprinting enthusiastically for the finish line. We then broke into our teaching groups, and started our lessons.
In the beginning it was a bit hectic, trying to smooth out all the wrinkles, but the kids were more enthusiastic to learn than any American kids we’ve ever seen. We taught them the vocabulary of household objects, and then broke for lunch – turkey sandwiches. Even with the language barrier, we could see close bonds forming. Kids of all ages and backgrounds playing soccer, jumping rope, holding hands and communicating without words. We finished teaching (and learning a great deal ourselves) and ended the day by getting crushed at soccer by the 10 year olds. Many of us were presented with notes and bracelets by shy smiling face and hugs all around. Friendships were formed that will last a lifetime, preserved forever in memory.
After finally taking leave of our friends, we visited Siquierres – a town whose name literally means, “If you want.” We were delighted to find ice cream, soda, t-shirts, and even a pair of fake Crocs. All in all, this day will stay with us forever. These kids and their intelligence, optimism, and joy and excitement to learn will stay with us for year and hopefully inspire us to be happy with the many things we have, appreciate our education and the possibilities it brings with it. We now understand friendship that knows no barriers, language, backgrounds or anything else. These smiles can go an infinitely long way.
Once we finally arrived in San Isidro de Dota everyone was sufficiently exhausted from our day long journey, but everyone was elated to finally meet the famous Santiago and his family. On the first day of service we woke up bright and early and headed down to the river to collect rocks to bring back to the school. We all underestimated the task and found ourselves exhausted after having to carry large boulders up a steep hill multiple times.
Next, we headed to the school to finish some of the previously started projects. We split into two groups; one group was in charge of building a small addition onto the school, while the other group worked on building a rock wall around the greenhouse. After our long day of service we ended the day with a competitive game of ultimate frisbee.
The next morning we woke up, ate a hearty breakfast, and embarked on a challenging hike consisting of steep uphill trails. Our final destination was a waterfall that turned out to be much further away than anticipated. When we arrived at the waterfall, Santiago showed us a clay exfoliant that everyone painted their faces with. We were planning on finishing some work at the school, but our plans were cut short by the unrelenting rain that didn’t falter for hours.
After a good nights sleep we all woke up ready for another day of service, but we encountered a problem; some of us were feeling a little under the weather. Santiago decided that those of us who were not feeling their best would work out of the sun at the school and teach some children English. The rest of the group ventured to Pepe’s farm to spend a long morning picking beans for Pepe, so he could afford to buy insulin for his diabetic wife. We left Pepe’s farm victoriously having picked four bags of beans, amounting to two hundred dollars. We bought a bag of corn from Pepe as we left, and carried it back home to make corn pancakes.
We spent our last afternoon exploring, playing soccer, and helping out in the kitchen. As we were trying to enjoy our last night on the mountain, our peace was disrupted by a very poisonous scorpion. Everyone was just so exhausted so we all resigned to putting our bug nets on and going to sleep. We had a fun time with Santiago and his family and are sad to leave, but excited to surf.