Keeping It Light

When you couple the battles at Nicaraguan customs with the spider bites and heat rashes, bottoming out the rental truck (again) in a riverbed, nightly scorpion captures, and living in the jungle with your sister in rooms that don’t lock, early mornings can hit you like a ton of bricks.

We were in Nicaragua last week to bring solar lights and books to remote communities without access to power and meet some of the most neglected villages to research their needs for future partnerships and projects.

The doors not locking on Casa Deluxe (as we jokingly dubbed our jungle hideaway) and our childhood fears of the dark nibbled away at the hours of sleep we might have had… but luckily what we had to wake up to was good enough reason to “rough it”. Sure, we slept with a cleaver and a whistle… but the view was damn fine and the solitude was hard to beat (when the sun was up.)

We take turns driving, Jenn and I. She claims I am a bad driver but, curiously, I think she’s the one who could use some fine-tuning behind the wheel. These are things you discuss when fear has kept you up all night and the sun hasn’t come up yet. While you’re winding your way through the riverbeds hoping you took the right turn (even though nothing is marked) and hoping the truck doesn’t flip over on the wild back roads (even though they’re not really roads at all). And every time (*let us pause here to knock on wood), we eventually get there … with the music playing, the birds chirping, and pettiness forgotten.

Because the next thing you know, you’re in another world. One that couldn’t make your petty differences feel more trivial. One that makes you resent cliches even more than you already did… because so many of them are true and you don’t even know another way to express it. “Wow, I really feel like I get more than I give out here.” or “Holy smokes (spoiler alert)… money DOESN’T buy happiness!” or “Hey, maybe when I get home I’ll be a little more grateful when I flick the light on.”

370 lights distributed to families without access to power. The responses were profound and their reactions were heartfelt; sparks were flying and we were happy to be there.