Yesterday, we traveled from Leon to Managua to catch an early flight from the Managua airport this morning. I found myself out in front of the hostel with my good friend, David, who I met on this trip, and we reminisced about all the adventures that we went on this trip, from the first day when everyone got to meet each other to our free days to Living On $1 A Day. After a few hours, I headed back to my room and laid in bed. During that time, I did a lot of thinking. During the first week, it felt like this trip would last another ten years before it went by. But by the second week, each day flew by so quickly, and I realized I was going to be on an airplane flying home in a few hours.
My alarm went off, singing “Let It Go,” at 3:40 a.m. and I went straight to the restroom to get ready. By 4:00 a.m., I went to wake up everyone and made sure they were all awake because we had to be ready to leave by 4:30. In my room, everyone was running around and trying grab their things quickly because there was only half an hour for 14 girls to get ready in one room. After the chaotic morning, everyone settled onto the bus, and this is when I realized that we were really going home. As the idea of going home sunk in more and more, tears started dripping down on my cheeks. I became more emotional each time I thought about how I would not see any of my new family members for a long time. Gradually, others started to feel tears coming down their faces too.
When we arrived at the airport, we waited for our bags to be brought out of the bus by the bus drivers and then headed to check-in. After check-in, everyone huddled in one little area to pass around marshmallows, to take some final pictures, and to have smiles on our faces for memories. We waved and said good-bye to our GG program coordinators, JuJu (Judith) and Chris, and even when we had passing into our security checkpoint, we waved our love to them. After we got into the terminal, we had to say goodbye to David because he was on a different flight than us. Each of us gave big hugs and said the words we needed to say to him, and before we knew it, it was 7:10 a.m. and we were heading to Houston, Texas.
Our layover at Houston was a complete rush. We arrived at around 11:20 and our next flight’s boarding time was 12:20. We had to go through customs and security again which took nearly ALL of the time. All 19 of us were rushing and running across the airport to find our gate! We even had to split up in order to try and make sure everyone got there on time so that the plane did not leave any of us behind, but unfortunately, a group of girls had gone ahead to try and get food (we were all very hungry because it was lunchtime) and got separated from the group, and they missed the boarding time! Our GG leaders had to split up–one of them got on the plane with us and the other waited for the girls who had missed the boarding time. Don’t worry–they got a different flight, and everyone arrived home safely.
Many of us spent most of the flight catching up on our sleep because we were all super tired from waking up early and travelling. We had to look fresh and awake to see our families for the first time in 18 days! When the plane landed, we all were all so eager to walk quickly to the baggage claim to see our family and friends. We quickly ran down the stairs, and some of the girls ran to their parents or friends. Then, we all slowly migrated to the baggage claim to get our luggage, and this is when I saw my mom. I was greeted by my sister, my mom, my three close friends, and a poster. We all broke into smiles and gave huge hugs! A few minutes later, many of us had our luggage, and we all started to take pictures and gave last hugs until the next time we see each other.
Today was a day full of tears, smiles, and love. We first started off as asking what each others’ names were and now, we are ohana (which means family). We may not see each other for a while, but the love we have for one another can never fade away.