Tuesday, May 31, 2011


Nope. I'm not home yet... I went to Bismark’s home tonight for the first time. Bismark has been driving me around and helping me out for the past 3 months, but has become so much more than a “driver” to me. I’ve had the pleasure of meeting his family, attending his church, hanging out with his mom, and even playing some epic games of padiddle with him. However, today was the first time I saw his house.
Bismarksito ran and jumped into my arms once I walked in the gate of the house. He was excited to give me the grand tour. Bismark lives with his wife Diana, and 3 kids Dianita (8), Bismarksito (5) and Sarita (9 months). I was extremely humbled by how simply his family lives. They were extremely proud to show me the 1 room with 3 beds, a stove, fridge, toilet, outdoor sink, a few toys, clothes, pots and pans that they all share. They have very relatively few material possessions to call their own- very little clutter and crap. It didn’t surprise me at all. I have learned that the poverty and simplicity of life is not limited to La Chureca, the trash dump where I spend my days. Poverty is everywhere in this country. Middle class doesn’t really exist. The high class represents less than 10% of the population and keep to themselves in a very small fraction of this city.
Nor did it surprise me to see how happy and content his family is at home. They are not rich in material possessions but in the unconditional love they have for each other, their faith, their generosity, and their desire to give what little they have to others. Because their lives are filled with the things that are truly important, they don't have any need for any more stuff. I was filled with hope and happiness being there and being surrounded by their partly constructed new "dream" home, sitting in the front yard of their property. When Bismark has a little extra money left over at the end of the month, he buys another few cinderblocks and adds them on to the house. Someday- who knows when, the house will finally be finished.
Perhaps we spend too much time in our lives trying to fill the gaping holes with more things, more money, and more power. Perhaps we search for the wrong things to make us happy-maybe the problem is that we’re looking for things...
I hope to return home in 3 weeks! rejuvenated and content. My life is rich in relationships, experiences, adventure, faith and love. I have been blessed with more in my short 21 years than I could ever need- something that I hope to not take for granted.

Saturday, May 28, 2011


Halle's Field with the Kids!

Wendy in action

getting ready for steal the bacon

the rains have arrived... and so has the mud

the more we laughed, the more he ran and fell


Laura and Jessenia

Bananagrams en Espanol!

San Juan del Sur with Ruthie and Cam!

Sunset in San Juan

Surfing in San Juan

The view from the balcony of our house. Not bad!

Tuesday, May 24, 2011


After 3 long months of visiting office after office, waiting in line, receiving mixed messages, filling out forms, filling out the wrong forms, paying LOTS of random amounts of money through official receipts at banks and waiting some more, Norman, our coach in La Chureca received his visa to come to the United States for 3 weeks this summer!!! Here's the proof!

Norman is coming to the States to join thousands of youth from over 150 countries around the world participate in the World Scholar Athlete Games and World Youth Peace Summit. The Institute for International Sport is hosting a world games, and peace conference for youth from across the country this summer from June 22nd until July 4th. Click to read more about the World Youth Peace Summit, and World Scholar Athlete Games.

Norman will be coming home with me on June 22nd, and will be spending a few days in Philly before heading up to Boston for a dispatch concert, and onto Connecticut for the Conference. We hope to visit DC and NYC during the week after the conference. He (and I) could not be more excited.

We are hoping that Miguel will be able to come as well, but along with everything else in Nicaragua, its really a process. Unfortunately the process for Miguel is a bit longer and a lot more frustrating than it was for Norman. Such is life in Nica...

Norman has never been on an airplane. The only country he has been to outside of Nicaragua is Guatemala, where he went to a lacrosse tournament with LtN. Luckily, we were able to book a plane ticket on my return flight to the US so we can travel together for the first time. Flying for the first time? I can only imagine how mind blowing this experience is going to be. I can't wait to watch him and experience it with him!

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

I have seen...

Car trips in Nicaragua will never get old, because I love watching the world pass by. Most observations from the window of the car depict the relaxed, communal, simple life that most lead here in Nicaragua without factoring in their reaction when a gringa (white person) interferes. I need to start having a camera out in the car so that I can capture the absurdities in photos. I have seen…
·      Trash. Everywhere. Nicaraguans finish a bottle of soda or a bag of chips and just throw the trash out the window.
·      5 people on a single 2 wheel bicycle. I have not seen how they ever get on and balance all at the same time… Everyone here rides with their knees out to the side, because there is usually a heavy bag of rice or beans in front of them, draped over the front bar or a few people balanced on the front bar in front of the handle bar.
·      Hammocks strung in the back of pick up trucks so that people can relax getting from a to b.
·      Animals. Everywhere. Dogs, chickens, roosters, goats, sheep, horses, cows. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve had to stop to let a herd of some sort of animal plod across the road.
·      Tucans, sunglasses, cigarettes, cell phone chargers, wind shield wipers and anything else you can imagine sold at red lights.
·      Into every house in Nicaragua. No one shuts their doors, and everyone seems to live on their front steps or front porch. Privacy here in Nicaragua? Doesn’t exist
·      The lone remaining sky scraper left in the city after the earthquake that destroyed everything in 1972.
·      Gorgeous straight rows of plaintain trees, rice patties, and pineapple bushes growing in the lush soil produced by the volcanoes.
·      Women carrying gigantic baskets and bins of goods on their heads
·      Every food imaginable sold by the side of the road in a little stand.
·      Angry ox, no longer wanting to pull their heavy load of timber back to the house stopped dead in the middle of two lanes in the road
·      Roads that can hardly be called roads. I think a path of rocks and dirt might be more appropriate
·      A boy riding a horse with a pig schlepped over the front. The pig was too stubborn to walk itself home, so the horse had to give it a lift.
·      Kids cleaning the windshield of cars at red lights. The minute the light turns red, the kids appear spraying water out of a bottle and wash away. If you don’t want it to be washed, an enthusiastic finger wag is needed before they get too far into the washing.
·      Casinos, TGI Friday’s Nicaraguan Comedors.
·      Businesses, and houses smushed together in tight quarters in the same neighborhoods across the city.

Whether a 4 hour road trip starting at 4:30 am or a trip to La Chureca that I make every day- driving down here never gets old.

Pigs on Bicycles?

Yesterday Bismark (my trusted driver, and a close friend here in Nicaragua) points to my window and says "look!" with a huge grin on his face.

A man was riding a bike with a metal basket attached to the front (fairly close to the ground). Sitting in the basket were two full sized pigs, nose in the air fully enjoying the ride.

Bismark and I both got a good laugh at it.

Then he turned to me. "Do people drive pigs around on bicycles in New York City?"

I couldn't even begin to explain...

Wednesday, May 11, 2011


As I have gotten busier, my blog entries have been few and far between. Sorry! I don’t think the next 6 weeks are going to get any less crazy. A good crazy though- everything is progressing well and we’re hoping to have a new program site up and running in Managua before I leave!
With that said, my time down here has not focused solely on my work with the lacrosse program. I have had the incredible opportunity to get to know some Nicaraguan kiddos who have completely changed my perspective of “tough” and “resilient”.
Last February when I was down here on my first trip, I met Diana, age 5 and Elias, age 3.  Their parents weren’t capable of taking care of them properly. Malnourished and neglected, I was aware of how desperate their situation was just by looking at them. Diana did not speak a word, and showed zero expression or emotion. Elias, though adorable, had incredible tough skin and a bloated stomach, a sign of malnutrition.

The two kids were taken into a “safe house” in a neighboring town. The home has permission to take care of the kids while the parents get back on their feet. I have had the chance to see the kids after a year of love and care.

It’s amazing to see how humans are capable to develop physically, mentally and emotionally after being neglected and forgotten. Every time I walk into the house Diana and Elias come running to the door with open arms and an audible laugh. I am humbled and hopeful by the power of unconditional love. The resilience that these two tough kids have showed in spite of the struggles that they endured proves to me that we, as humans, are capable of handling far more than I have ever had to in my life.  I hope that if I ever face extreme adversities, I will remember these two kids, their ability to endure, and their unbelievable gift to be able to love and trust again.