El Quinto Dia (and Departure)

I know this post is a few days late… You can thank the ocean water for that. Alas, we had an amazing last day in Nicaragua where we helped out at a local health fair, toured around Lago Nicaragua, and made our final trip back to the capital!

At the health fair, we assisted in and observed the gynecology clinic, where we were permitted to observe Pap smears and ultrasounds, the pharmacy, where we helped package and organize prescriptions, and a few other clinics. Brenna and I also helped with the kids’ piñata, an elaborate Santa Claus piñata filled with Nicaraguan candies.

Best of all, a DJ sat outside and played music during the ENTIRE health fair, from 8am until the afternoon when we left! The fair was extremely crowded all morning, with children, men, and women all patiently waiting in long lines outside to be seen by the doctors within.

When the health fair was finally slowing down, we left for lunch, where we were greeted by our wonderful bus driver and his son and daughter! They had come to say their goodbyes and deliver some delicious homemade Nicarguan snacks called Rosquillas! It was delightful. His kids were so excited to meet us, and the Rosquillas were so tasty!

After lunch we said our goodbyes to the two wonderful doctors who accompanied us on most of our trip! It was so sad to say goodbye to them, and we hugged, laughed, and took pictures for as long as we could!

Our drive back to Managua was beautiful. We made a stop at a mountain-top town to buy souvenirs and take pictures of the beautiful Lago Nicaragua and Ometepe Island. The lake itself is made of freshwater but home to bull sharks, and the island has two volcanos, one of which is extremely active… We were told you’re allowed to hike up to the top and look down in the crater at the lava, but that you’re risking your life if do… it erupts fairly frequently.

On our drive down from the mountain town, we saw the most beautiful sunset over Ometepe, a perfect ending to our day.

We ate our last dinner in the hotel in Managua, and arose early in the morning for the flight back home.

Arriving back in the United States has been quite a culture shock… My trip has made me so much more aware of my good fortune and how much relative wealth my country has. Clean tap water, freedom from most mosquito-borne illnesses… the list is extensive and does not end there. Going Christmas shopping reminds me of all of the freedom and money we have to be materialistic… When some can’t even afford to feed their pets…

I cannot put into words how much this trip has impacted me, but I do know one thing: meeting these wonderful, loving, generous people has made me want to be a more compassionate person in my everyday life, and I’m still moved by their loving kindness and welcoming hearts. I hope I am granted the gift of one day returning to that beautiful, happy country, but for now I will hold it in a special place in my heart.

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