Featured Writer: Isabel Thottam
The sun rises early in the morning in Nicaragua, painting the sky with an orange and pink hue. On a good day, you can see the silhouette of the volcanoes in the distance, their black rocks reaching higher toward the unreal sky. The mountains are more than mountains. They are plateaus and rolling hills, spattered with moments of brushes and forests, coloring the view with a range of shades of green. Against a sky blue sky, it’s easy to believe this place isn’t real. Even less when you’re breaking every rule America controls, as you ride crowded in the bed of a truck, weightless and free as the wind blows out your hair.
But this is Nicaragua, it’s not home and it’s not America. It is both beautiful and sad. Beautiful is the nature; the sunsets and sunrises. Beautiful are the unknown stars at night, that reveal the galaxy beyond us, proving that we’re a small part of something bigger. Beautiful are the roads, that are sometimes smooth and other times a simple, dirt path.
Sad are the houses, that are often incomplete or complete with simple structure. Sad are the animals that consist of skin and bones, fighting for food in their night howls.
But beautiful are the people, who value family and their culture. Who build their homes, brick by brick and have what is only necessary. Beautiful is the fact that one person’s hands are all that create the food, the pottery, and the homes.
Sad is the fact that we have so much more but often do not give. Sad is our lifestyle in America, where we protect ourselves and indulge in luxury and preservatives. Sad is the fact that I felt safer in a third world country than I do in my own backyard.
Nicaragua is more than just a sight to see. It’s a culture of humans behaving and acting the way life intended. Eat from the land, live on the land, be not afraid of the land. Live with the animals, live with your family and love far greater than hate. Find your own entertainment; sleep well at night underneath the stars.
Nicaragua feels free, and boy did I feel free.
Nothing beats driving down a highway, looking back at the mountains and forward towards a blue sky. And with good company at your feet, you feel high on life. So high, that not even the cold, heavy rain pouring down your back, soaking into your shoes and skin could break the moment. And as the thunder sounds off like gunshots on the battlefield, with lightening striking ground ahead – you feel more alive than ever, as electricity flows through your veins. You recognize we are more than just bodies, because something inside feels more right than ever before.
That was the moment I first understood my favorite quote from a book, The Perks Of Being A Wallflower. Because in that moment, with my hair falling back at the speed of a truck; as I stood with the rain drenching my skin, I felt infinite. In that moment, we were infinite.
There is something about the look in the eyes of a child that calls me to return. These people may be able to build, but they need our help; our compassion and our kindness. Even to spend a half hour chasing kids around a school yard is enough. Nicaragua is alive through its people. They stay there because it’s magic you can’t find anywhere else. We may look at the country and see houses that can barely stand and people with sickness or nothing. But I saw people with love and happiness that I don’t often see anywhere else.
To be happy with less, is the best kind of happiness.
Simplicity. Simplicity is the word to describe this place. Eat what’s real, build with what’s there and want nothing less. They are a wonderful culture in Nicaragua.
I envy them for that.