My Experience in Nicaragua - My Family Travels


The Bond

I forced myself to look in a direct line down the uneven, brick road. I made a conscious effort to smile; it was a fake, strained emotion across my face. The reality was I had never been more uneasy. I glanced at the pint-sized woman leading me past colorful houses, a simple school, a horse grazing lazily. I thought to myself over and over, ‘Why did I let my brother convince me to do this? A school in our neighboring Minnesota town was taking a summer trip to Nicaragua through the organization Project Minnesota-Leon. I with fresh naïveté signed up hoping for adventure and thrilled by the prospect of becoming a cosmopolite. My Spanish, however, was pathetic, and I was alone in a Central America. I second guessed myself and wondered, ‘Have I lost my mind?

“Estoy feliz en Nicaragua,” I said in broken Spanish to the woman, my new host mother. She rotated her head back and smiled.

            Three blocks later she motioned to her right at a Pepto Bismol colored house with a tin roof. The home was as miniature as the woman who lived in it. There was no glass in the windows and the door was flung back. A boy sat just outside the opening, watching his mother approach with a giant, blonde, gringo following conspicuously.

            He greeted me with a smile and the traditional kiss on the cheek. They knew my Spanish left something to be desired as I stumbled through “Hola. Mucho gusto! Cómo estás?”

            I trembled as they escorted me inside. The home was simple. The kitchen resembled a child’s play kitchen, everything was minute. I towered over the refrigerator. The rustic house was minimal yet beautiful — there was no waste.

The petite elder woman fussed around the tiny appliances. She pulled bread out of the mostly empty refrigerator and placed some meat on the slices. She completed the meal preparation by pouring us each a cup of Coca-Cola.

            The table was silent and I began attempting the Spanish again. Now or never. I asked their names. Griselda and Eddy. Griselda grinned and told me ‘Mama’ was okay.

            Then they asked me my name. “Ellen.” I purposely spoke slowly and pronounced clearly. The two stared at me over the table; they didn’t even bother attempting the nonsense word. “Elena,” I said shrugging. Their shoulders relaxed.

            “Elena,” they affirmed, the name sounded like music from their mouths. 

            Griselda washed dishes as Eddy drug wicker chairs from the living room out the front door. I met him there and took a seat next to him. Pop music was playing on the small stereo in the living room, and with the door open it was easy to hear. The Spanish version of Bryan Adam’s “Everything I Do, I Do it for You” began to play. I knew every word; we had listened to it in class. I sang along and Eddy smiled as Griselda came to sit with us.

            “I love this song.” Eddy agreed. I beamed and looked out to the brick street, which was teeming with noise and movement. At that moment I felt a bond between my host family and myself, which would grow stronger over the duration of my journey. I became more confident with my Spanish and I realized how even a language barrier is not a significant obstacle. My Nicaraguan family showed me so much about the human race and what is universal for us all. When people ask me what was my favorite part of Nicaragua, the answer is obvious: Eddy and Griselda.


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