Today marks the first week since we’ve arrived in Matagalpa and yet it feels like we have been here a lot longer. It was a day worth celebrating together through a free day, in which we were allowed to explore and immerse ourselves in the busy streets of the city. Thankfully, we were able to wake up an hour and a half later than usual, which was definitely a bonus for those who have not slept well the past few days and lost some sleep. After enjoying our breakfast in our pajamas, we had three hours of free time to explore the city and hang out together. Groups were formed and before we got to head out to the city, all members had to tell Lauren and Noelle which route they were taking to ensure that we wouldn’t get lost and know our way back to the hostel. Once each person had the directions down, we were able to go out and about in the city.
After returning from the city and having lunch, we had another chance to continue our adventure. Groups were formed once again, but this time in larger numbers. Some of us went to get amazing fruit smoothies at Siembras y Cosechas (Jamba Juice is definitely no match), while others went to get savory ice cream and coffee at Besame or Barista (Baskin Robbins and Starbucks are no match either). The other groups went to an internet cafe to check and update their social media. They also called back home and went shopping for souvenirs (let’s all hope for one). Sadly, our free time came to an end after four hours. However, we still had a special event to look forward to after our nightly meeting and dinner, all thanks to the invitation of the private school hosts some of us had shadowed for a day. Once dinner was over, we all headed over to the special event, the San Luis Gonzaga. It was a fun and boisterous event where lots of performances were made and the boys and girls competed in a pageant like style for the crown.
After a fun and event-filled week in Matagalpa, we really enjoyed our free day in which we could roam the city and relax with our friends. Doing activities such as visiting the internet café allowed us to reconnect with our family and friends back home. Although it may have filled us with nostalgia and tears (for some of us and for those who won’t admit), we can all certainly take comfort in the new friendships and connections we’ve made in the past week and the great moments we’ve spent and shared together. In just one week, we have grown from amateur foreigners to a group of mature kids roaming in a foreign city with awareness of our surroundings. Through each other, we have learned about the importance of connections, the making of them, and how it will create everlasting memories.