What I Learned in Nicaragua

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When I travel overseas, I do my best to stay unplugged. That means I don’t sign up for the international plan on my cell phone, and try not to spend most of my time trying to find Wi-Fi. I do my best to get into a “listening” frame of mind, and to be fully present. I notice images like the one above. The wheelbarrow and hedge of flowers just seemed like a perfect picture. Now, if my photography skills could only do it justice!

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When traveling with a group, you have to put on a mantle of patience. No one is ever ready on time, or at the same time, and those who were ready suddenly remember they need their mosquito repellant or need to use the bathroom one more time. Luckily the Nehemiah Center, where we stayed most of the time, had comfy chairs in which to wait.

We will move toward the sun of freedom or death; and if we die, our cause will continue to live. Others will follow us.

We will move toward the sun of freedom or death; and if we die, our cause will continue to live. Others will follow us.

You also have to learn to be humble, especially when you learn that your country has played a role in some terrible things. I really hope the Bush family didn’t intend to honor this Walker.

Breakfast: gallo pinto, eggs, tortilla, and queso fresco

Breakfast: gallo pinto, eggs, tortilla, and queso fresco

I also always open myself up to new food experiences. It drives me crazy when people won’t try anything new. You can eat granola bars in the States. How can you truly experience a place unless you taste it?

These women in Leon have had a workshop about preventing and recognizing exploitation and trafficking. They are now working hard and have already rescued three young women!

These women in Leon have had a workshop about preventing and recognizing exploitation and trafficking. They are now working hard and have already rescued three young women!

And then there are the people. The most important part of any trip. It’s sort of trendy now to advocate against human trafficking. The ladies above are actually making a difference. No, not by buying jewelry or posting on facebook. But by taking a class on how to recognize and prevent exploitation and then having the courage to teach their daughters, to confront people who are trying to take little girls “over the mountains.”

Whenever I’m in this sort of environment, I am inspired. Away from the email and schedules and running water I vow to live more intentionally and in the present. To do things that matter.

Then I get home. Where I can flush the toilet and brush my teeth with water from the tap. Where my emails have piled up overwhelmingly because I haven’t checked them for a week. Where house projects and work projects and facebook invitations and blog posts to read pile up in alarming quantities.

Finally, a week and a half later, I realize that I have still not written a blog post recap of my trip. So I pull out my photos and remember. I remember the promises that I made to myself. I hit publish, walk away from the computer, leave my phone on the counter, and sit outside and listen to the birds and feel the warmth on my skin.

This is living.