As a final farewell, Matagalpa gave us a beautiful sunset tonight.

As a final farewell, Matagalpa gave us a beautiful sunset tonight.

Today was the day we have carried in our thoughts from the clouds of a Managua-bound plane ride, from the moments our journey became more than thoughts in the clouds, and from the crystallization of the realization that this journey would come to an end one day, today–we could count these days on our fingers and toes. Some nights, the first nights especially, this time span seemed intangible despite its possibility to be counted on opposable joints, and we could not reach out and grasp today because it loomed somewhere too far in distance and time. Tonight, however, as we sit around empty pizza boxes and fuller hearts, we question when these days slipped from our fingers so that our fingers could grasp suitcase handles again.

Tomorrow, we are carrying much more than suitcases home. We are carrying new perspectives regarding cultural differences, gratitude, resourcefulness, and wastefulness home. This morning, we reflected upon our trip in a three hour meeting that inspired us to consider the lessons we have learned about ourselves, the changes we will make when we return, and the overall meaning of this trip on our lives. Some brief takeaways from this meeting and our trip in general (English tutoring mode, colons may technically only follow full sentences; lo siento):

  • Lick plates clean at meals. Food is too precious to lie in the stomachs of our garbage cans. Behind each grain of rice, drop of juice, slice of fruit is a story–read that story and appreciate it (here is the part where I remind myself that it is okay to completely binge-eat all the U.S. food I’ve missed when I get back as long as I finish it all, which won’t be hard to do, because I’ve really missed it)
  • Feeling guilt about the circumstances into which we have been born does not change the circumstances which we encounter. We do not choose the lives we are born into, but we can choose how we live them.
  • Our worlds contain knots, but the expectation to untangle all these knots in one day is misguided. The single, tiny knots we unravel each day are the ones which make the biggest difference in the long run.
  • The reward for helping someone may not come today, tomorrow, or next year. But it will come.
  • Family and friends are infinitely more valuable than the electronic screens and outlets we have had to communicate with you through.
  • Continuously seek new knowledge and open yourself to the world and others; invest in your education so that you can educate others.
  • Nicaraguan chocolate/coffee is the best chocolate/coffee (I didn’t try the coffee but this is what I hear)
  • We. Are. So. Grateful. For. Hot. Showers.

Now that I’ve done my preaching for the day, here are the events of our final full day in Matagalpa: (English tutoring mode, correct colon usage)

We woke up with wet hair and sleepy voices to a hostel that smelled of fruit. For breakfast, we enjoyed plates of pineapple, cantaloupe, banana, watermelon, and toast with pineapple marmalade and butter. With extra free time after this meal, we played cards and lounged around until our Final Reflection Meeting, which preceded our FINAL LUNCH AT THE HOSTEL (tears) : grilled chicken, rice, salad, and tortillas. After lunch, we received five hours of free time to explore this beautiful city and buy souvenirs for the last time. I am personally working on uprooting these mountains and packing them in my suitcase. My personal highlights of free time include getting a big scoop of the best ice cream ever from Kiss Me and watching the Nicaraguan Devino Nino parade (which made up for missing the Evanston 4th of July parade). Upon returning to the hostel, we had our FINAL DINNER AT THE HOSTEL (more tears): gallo pinto, chicken nugget thingies, and fried plantains, accompanied by a side of sunset. This apparently wasn’t enough food for us, as we proceeded to order pizza and a cake for Adrian’s 18th birthday (feliz cumpleanos! lo siento; I can’t find the squiggly n). As I write this, we are currently sitting out on the patio in the Nicaraguan night breeze, listening to songs we’ve missed, ignoring the fact that we’re going to miss this: being here with each other.

I’ve missed home though. So it’s on to a Chicago-bound plane ride, with the realization that perhaps this journey isn’t countable on just our fingers and toes.

<3 Allison