We’ve been thinking a lot lately about moments… Someone already said it: “we do not remember days, we remember moments.” We long for them, we smile at them, we miss them, we swear about them, we share them, we have them all to ourselves. We live for them and, in the end, they’re all we’re left with. As days drift into each other and nights can be difficult to differentiate in rear view, it’s ever important to challenge ourselves and make moments to remember.
It would be impossible to recap everything that went down over the past 4 months during our Education Reform Program in rural Nicaragua but we thought we’d share with you some point form moments instead of a drawn-out essay. Some good, some bad, all memorable.
Meeting with every school before construction so the parents, teachers and community members could agree on the most pressing needs for their school.
Dropping off pictures to friends from last year. Señor Zapata is one of the most inspirational humans we’ve met… you want to know about fortitude, just look into this man’s eyes.
The moment when we were driving down a riverbed and noticed 3 recognizable faces from a neighbouring village. The three 40-something-year-old men were giggling uncontrollably in a swarm of bees, hands covered in sticky honey from the tree they’d just scooped a hive out of. They had honey dripping from their cheeks and fingers. We got out of the truck and all we could do was join in the laughter. So much joy in such a small and unexpected moment. “Common girls! They won’t sting…”
Realizing we had a LOT of work ahead of us when we filled our room at Maderas Village with school supplies, books, paint, varnish and sports equipment for 700 school kids in 32 schools throughout 15 rural communities in Nicaragua… not to mention the big projects such as: building latrines, kitchens, fixing roofs, doors, installing locks, painting, finding solutions to water availability issues, rebuilding entire structures… etc.
Handing out storybooks for all the kids (most had never owned a book in their lives.) Seeing the anticipation and excitement… watching as one boy just held it, felt the spine, examined the cover, carefully leafed through the pages and whispered to himself “….it’s just SO beautiful.” He ran over to his friends and showed them the story he chose and when we were leaving, he held our faces and kissed our cheeks.
Skinnydipping. Running into the water with reckless abandon under a fleet of stars with bioluminescence lighting up below us. Out of breath and in awe. Girls gotta have fun.
The beach moving under our feet and feeling scared when the earthquake hit.
That time that Jorge, a quiet and methodical school teacher, pulled us aside and thanking us for “having our eyes open.”
When people were happy that we hadn’t forgotten about them.
When people hadn’t forgotten about us…
Being stalked in a market and followed on the journey home before being blocked in an intersection and having our tires slashed. Close calls make us a little more careful in our day-to-day activities…
Alanna getting stung by a scorpion: Jennifer laughing, Ryan concerned, Alanna unphased (until the numbness started creeping up her spine.) Rushing to the hospital, shot in the ass. Smirking nurse… sad Alanna.Hitting an unseeable bump, sending Jenn flying backwards out of the truck. A little bruised and battered… what can you do besides dust off, jump back in and hold on. (And hate on Alanna for the rest of the day.)
Driving up the bumpy road to Maderas Village after a long day’s work to see the communal tables filling up and hearing energetic chatter as new faces become new friends. Hours flying by, interrupted only by the realization that 5 AM comes quick… especially after a couple of rums.
Waking up by the monkeys at 5:00 to make a matè. Arguing over who is going to drive today. Anticipating another day full of surprises. Hooking up the iPod and singing instead of talking. Getting lost because there are no road signs in river beds. Trying to eat gallo pinto in a riverbed. Swearing a bit too much. Getting there after hours of driving and everything feeling worthwhile again.
Parasites. Enough said.
Seeing the look on their faces when you take kids to the beach – some for the first time they’d ever gone.
Watching Jose David & Gabriel try on their new school uniforms for the first time. Eyes wide and faces gleaming with pride as they showed off the first new set of clothes they’ve ever had.
Ariel sifting sand for water filters as a trade for his kids’ new school supplies and uniforms
Bailing so, so hard. Attempts at a wave that you know from the beginning isn’t going to end well. Bracing for impact, somersaulting through the waves and gasping for air at the sweet end of it all.
Driving to buy supplies in a rental truck that we were promised would be safe.. Flying up a hill as the car dies… shit. Flying back down the hill as the brakes don’t work. Rolling down to a stop to realize the truck is broken: the battery is duct taped together. Phoning the owner for a solution… “hit the battery really hard with a rock.” Doing it.
Showing up to a school that had prepared a talent show as a way to show their thanks. Trying not to look awkward as you stand in front of the classroom with jaw dropped admiration for such a sweet (and loud) welcoming.
The overwhelming feeling of fatigue mingling with excitement and pride on our last day of work.. when we looked in retrospect at all that had been done and all of the amazing people who came together to do it. Good work takes work.. and we couldn’t have done it without the players on our team.
There will always be glorious moments to make up for the ones that aren’t so grand.. but even those are part of the journey and make for lessons learned. Thanks to all of you who played a role in making so many moments to remember over the past four months.