One of the best trips I have ever been on was my mission trip to Nicaragua. That trip was the first time I had ever been in a primarily Spanish speaking country. We flew into the capital, Managua, on a Saturday and stayed at the hotel Camino Real. I realized pretty quickly that the only good food they served was Hispanic. I have no idea why I decided to order Fettuccini Alfredo the first night, but I never made that mistake again. The hotel was more like an American resort than a hotel, so my team and I were pleasantly surprised.
On Sunday, we left Managua and drove two hours up to Estelí to stay the rest of the week at the Cuallitlan Hotel.
â–º QUARTER FINALIST 2012 TEEN TRAVEL WRITING SCHOLARSHIP
When I had packed, I hadn’t realized we would be in a non-air-conditioned van on a dusty road with our luggage strapped to the top of the vehicle. I slept terribly that night, because the open-window drive had upset my allergies. The first Spanish line I said was asking our van driver, Rudy, if he wanted the tomato off of my dinner plate. He just grinned at me and took it.
On Monday, I woke up to the lovely sound of a macaw screaming outside of our room. Since there was an armed gunman guarding the gate outside of our little section, we all had thought someone was getting murdered. We then went to the Fabretto School to help with the kids. They were so sweet and innocent. A little girl named Valeri bonded with me right away. She held my hand for two hours after only knowing me for a minute. We read and colored with the kids until it was time for them to leave. I will never forget seeing two hundred plus elementary kids all walking out of the gate and onto the dirt road with no parents in sight; even the five year olds were alone. It broke my heart to watch them walk away with the dust rising after their steps.
On Tuesday, we sang songs in Spanish with the kids. I kept watching how well they interacted. All of these kids, who were desperately poor, had the best smiles and brightest attitudes. I started to realize how spoiled I am as an American. Valeri ran up during lunch, which is most likely the only meal she gets all day, and gave me a note saying how much she loved me. She had spelled my name wrong, but I just held it and cried. These kids who were born into poverty had so much love in their hearts. They deserve so much better than they have and I wish I could give them the world.
On Wednesday, we went and fed the people who lived at the dump. It was a bittersweet end to the trip. The people in Nicaragua are so amazing and I miss the kids dearly. We left Fabretto the very next day, but I left my heart behind. I only knew Valeri for 3 days, but that little twelve year old girl left my life different than it was before. I see what I really have now and I see how happy she was with so much less. I am looking forward to being able to visit again; but in the meantime, I am working out a sponsorship for Valeri through Fabretto to help keep her fed and educated. Nicaragua was my most memorable trip and I will always remember the hidden treasures that I found.
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