As of now, I know Nicaragua only as a swirling collection of texts, photos and stories carefully groomed by those who have been there before me. Some say it is a dangerous place, while others tell me the country is changing. I believe both sides, but continue to tell myself to worry less and focus on the realm of things within my control. Sure, any mosquito that bites me could be carrying the incurable dengue fever, but all I can do is lather the DEET on thick and embrace my new surroundings. I have nearly 80 days to soak up everything this place and its people are willing to share, and I hope to share the experience right back with my family and friends. Thank you all so much for your support!
As I write this, I’m flying through the night somewhere between Denver and Miami, losing one hour to every half hour we’re in the air because of the time change. Time travel can be tough on the body, but at least I’ll get to see the Nicaraguan countryside in the daylight on the drive to La Mariposa, in San Juan De La Concepcion. Since I have little notion of what to expect over these first few days (or when I’ll next have WiFi), I’ll share a couple of my favorite trinkets that will be making the journey with me.
1) 1947 Indian Half-Rupee
An unexpected good luck charm given to me by a family friend who, in his own words, has worked all his life only to save up for the next big adventure. This etched Indian Half-Rupee** has been around the world with Will, including atop many a Nicaraguan volcano, so he made me promise to bring it home safely in a few months.
**The coin is dated 1947, which is the year India gained her independence from the Redcoats.
2) Harry Potter y la piedra filosofal
My sister and I grew up competing to see who could read the existing Harry Potter series fastest before each new book was released. I swear if I didn’t win every time, she surely cheated by puppy-guarding the 3rd book well after she’d finished it. It’s only right then that she got me the Spanish translation of Book 1, for me to read to the kids at the school where I will be helping out on weekdays. I’ll rely on the little ones to be ruthless on me for missed accents and mispronunciations.
3) Fujifilm Instax 210
I was raised in a family full of cameras and, to this day, cannot get enough of all the old Polaroids at Grandma’s house. So imagine my surprise when I read on the La Mariposa website that visitors to the region are asked to be considerate and use cameras sparingly because so few local families can afford such luxuries. At first, I was bummed because I enjoy taking pictures while traveling, but as I continued to sift through our old family photos, I decided that if there was an affordable way to do it, I would love to thank the local families for hosting me by offering them Polaroid-esque portraits of their loved ones. Fortunately, Fujifilm now offers a high quality Polaroid alternative at a significantly lower price. I brought exactly 100 instant-film exposures with me and will be quite anxious to see how the idea is received.
Much love to you all! Thanks for reading.