That’ll get your attention, won’t it? (Courtney, este título es para ti.)
Yesterday morning was different. I woke up feeling fresh and happy. It had rained during the night and the clouds still hung in the air. I’ve been leaving home early with Haley because she goes to the clinic at 7:30 but my class doesn’t start until 8. So we walk the first block together and I continue to stroll down whatever street calls to me, so long as it goes west. The street we live on is one of my favourites. There are a lot of tour companies, and all the buildings are different colours. Walking by each door gives me a glimpse inside, seeing how families and businesses start their day. The tour companies always have jeeps or vans in front, sometimes with clients, sometimes only with guides rushing back and forth, readying their equipment for the coming day. It’s this walk that allows my imagination to wander, putting myself in the place of the guide, the store owner, or the client, going wherever or doing whatever story I come up with for them.
That morning, the roads were quiet. Businesses were shut. Guides were preparing their tours, but more slowly than normal. I was walking slower. My mind was functioning slower. The puddles in the streets were clearer and it still smelled like rain. On one block, the only sound was my own footsteps. I paused to listen. To listen to the stillness, to the sound of the universe. Then a motorcycle revved its engine and the city was alive again. I turned the corner and the smell of a rotting carcass replaced the fresh smell of rain. I quickened my pace and tried to hold my breath, but the decay lasted the whole block. After class Madison and I walked to the south side of town, a part neither of us had yet explored. We had no real plan as to what we were going to do on this side of town, but we came upon a bridge and decided to peer into the river that laid below. The river bed was almost dry. Trash lined the sand bars, the water a funky silver-turquoise. It hurt to see the destruction, especially when that morning I had walked by a mural that translated into, “We don’t ask that you clean our city, only that you don’t dirty it.” It’s hard to balance sayings like that with what we see daily, because I know that even when I throw things away in trash bins, they probably will still end up in the streets or the river. Not to mention the past week and a half we have been eating breakfast, lunch and dinner off of styrofoam plates with plastic utensils because our nica mama has been cooking up storms for the visiting nurses and simply using the materials she has leftover. Choose your battles. Walking forward and around the rest of the day, every corner was filled with immaculate cakes that read, “Para Mamá” or “¡Te amo Mamá!” Little girls ran by giggling in their frilliest dresses, dads following them with roses in their arms. What a beautiful day.
Again today we woke up to cloud cover. I still felt happiness shining inside me. This morning was loud again. I noticed the trash in the streets more than usual because of my thoughts yesterday. I walked all the way down my street towards my favourite building in town, the Zaragoza church. I had time to spare before class so I found a spot on the raised sidewalk and sat under the clouds, under a tree, and took photo after photo. I took my time. Time to let this quiet street, the calm sky, and the beautiful architecture ease my mind. On my way home from Las Tías at noon, the sky burst and a downpour ensued. Walking home in the rain is one of my favourite parts about this place. It’s not an angry rain, it’s a cleansing rain. I watched the vendors cover their beautiful fruits, as I walked by not concerned as to whether or not I was walking beneath the awnings, only aware of the roof ledges, where the rainwater was running like a faucet. I made it home and simply declared as I walked in the door, “Está lloviendo.” To which all the women in la casa de nuestra tía laughed.
This past weekend, a few of us headed north to explore Somoto Canyon. Shout out to Andrew for finding the guide company and arranging everything. We woke up at 5am and drove and drove and drove through the Nicaraguan countryside. Somoto is about 3km away from the border of Honduras, and as you descend into the canyon, you can see the little yellow building that is Honduran customs. We were close enough that my nica phone lit up, welcoming me to Honduras. We walked through a lush green cow pasture and followed the skinny dirt road through the trees and down to the river bed. The Río Coco is the longest river in Central America and we were standing at its confluence with el Río Tapacalí. We spent two hours wading and swimming through the water, some parts had a good current but they were short sections that then pooled deep enough to cliff jump. The canyon wasn’t as skinny as the slot canyons of southern Utah and Arizona I’ve been in, but as far as river canyons go, it was pretty skinny. The tall rock walls would enclose us, and then reopen to views of bright green trees lining the rim. I don’t think any one of us made it through the trip without shouting, “This is SO COOL!”
Walking home from yoga just now with Haley, there was a man on the street corner that began to speak in our direction. I’m pretty good at looking straight ahead and not reacting to whatever they have to say, but this one made me laugh. “Hello! Viva la Barbie! You are Barbie! Barbies!” The world is a wonderful place.