14 days. 336 hours. 20,160 minutes in Pueblo Viejo

By Jessica Guthrie, Outreach Trip Participant, Pueblo Viejo, Nicaragua, May 2015

I used the journals that SOS provided religiously. I wrote in mine several times a day to ensure that I would not miss any moments in the 14 days we were in Pueblo Viejo, Nicaragua. Each minute in this country presented itself with a new, exciting adventure I never imagined. There is no way to condense 14 days of adventures into one blog post, but this is my journal entry on the morning of our last full day that captures many of my experiences and what I learned.

May 14th 2015 – 6am

It’s our last real morning here seeing as we leave at 3am tomorrow. It’s crazy to think about how the time has flown by; I remember our second day here when we were craving structure in our days and wanted to begin working. That’s the last day I distinctly remember before all the days and adventures begin to blend together. I’m disappointed that for much of the time I was here, I was thinking about the first things I’m going to do when I get home; first meal, the first shower. Now that tomorrow is upon us, I don’t want any of it. I’m going to miss my pool mattress bed, the bucket showers, the latrines and all the bugs. I’m going to miss eating every meal with these 9 spectacular people and spending every waking moment with them. I don’t want to say goodbye tomorrow and I’m not going to. As Peter Pan said, never say goodbye because goodbye means going away and going away means forgetting. And this community and experience will never be forgotten. Until next time, hasta luego!

I love this place. I’m sitting on the porch in a chair made of wire and string. The sun is poking through the clouds and warming the left side of my body. There are sounds of cows, Spanish news and music, chickens, roosters, and horses trotting. Soon the 6:30am bus’s horn will sound frantically and wake everyone inside. The air here is so fresh with a light smell of sweet flowers and smoke billowing from the kitchens that are already preparing food. In the midst of taking in all of these senses, an old dark man on a horse approached the porch and attempted to speak with me – I had no idea what he was trying to communicate, but our neighbour came to speak with him and sent him on his way. I am so grateful for these people who have welcomed us into their lives. The woman who has been preparing our meals is a mother figure to me now, which made my first Mother’s Day away from my mom easier. They are the most selfless people. In social psychology, I’ve studied individualistic and collectivist cultures – the scholarly definitions are easy to comprehend but experiencing it is completely different; the contrast between their culture and ours is astounding. With what little they have, they are ready and willing to share with us, even though we are more privileged. I believe that everyone should experience this style of living to see that money does not dictate happiness. These people are happier with much less. Collecting moments, not money truly resonates with me. The moments I’ve collected here taught me lessons I will take with me forever. Adventures such as pushing my absolute limits to climb a mountain in 6 hours, making corn tortillas with a woman I could not communicate with, seeing the value of first aid training, and even involuntarily holding a scorpion that was in my bag are memories I will treasure forever. 1 community. 9 volunteers. Two weeks. 14 days. 336 hours. 20,160 minutes changed my life.

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