As Immanuel Kant eloquently stated, ¨We are rich not by what we possess but by what we can do without.¨ Today, our aim was to emulate the lives of local Nicaraguan residents as closely as possible. We began with a bright and early rise, and many Glimpsers opted to take a ¨bucket shower¨ (as the name suggests, one would solely use a bucket of water to cleanse oneself). Gallopinto (rice and beans) and a side of tortilla were served in a fairly conservative manner for breakfast, lunch, and dinner, and rather than our usual, colorful fruit juices filled with hielo (ice), we were given water.
The bus ride to the Communidad Punta de Plancha took roughly twenty minutes, and pairs of Glimpsers were assigned to nine families, all of whom lived side by side. The entire residential area spanned about one fifth of a mile, was covered in leafy green vegetation, and had a thin dirt road to connect the families. Depending on the family, we performed various tasks, including washing dishes, sweeping floors, planting vegetables, pulling out weeds, collecting trash, and cooking lunch. Almost all our Glimpsers had an opportunity to practice their Spanish with the locals and spend time playing with the children. Evidently, the language barrier was our greatest struggle, but we managed to communicate through gestures and through an activity titled ¨Draw My Life¨. Before departing, we brought two piñatas and engaged with the entire community.
After returning to the hostel, we spent an hour reflecting on our earlier experiences. Much of what we observed tied back to the quote by Kant– despite the menial conditions in which these locals appeared to be living in alongside the lack of material possessions, access to a quality education or healthcare, and opportunities, we found that they were able to discover joy in the simplest things, such as conversing with family members while swinging in a hammock, or playing a game of soccer with the neighbors.
By the late afternoon, we were exhausted and re-energized by enjoying some free time. Our Program Coordinators, Carrie and Camila, led our first seminar on the upcoming Community Action Project (CAP). We began to brainstorm ways in which we could leave a tangible impact in the Leon community, and our final decision is yet to be revealed…
In writing this post, I feel an unbelievable amount of appreciation for the system that I was born into, the opportunities that lie ahead of me, and of course, the dedication, ambition, and sacrifices of my parents that allowed me to enjoy this lifestyle. I was taken aback by the stark contrast in our lives in the Bay Area compared to the lives of locals; for a brief moment, I forgot about our technology, our stresses, our complications, and our lives that begin to feel tiresome, like checking boxes off a ¨To Do¨ list… and focused on the simplicity of our time in Leon.