Thankful.

I sit here in my hammock, already sweating at 8am, enjoying a cup of stovetop-brewed coffee that still has some of the grains in it because they can’t ever be completely strained out. The street outside my house is loud, kids heading to classes, people to work, the occasional cowboy riding by on his horse. Dogs bark, fireworks go off, and life goes on. Today is not a holiday in here.

Amidst the heat, noise, and unstrained coffee, I find myself thankful.

Really, really thankful.

Thankful that this morning I could wake up and ‘aprovechar’ the wifi of my neighbors to post this.

Thankful that I now live in a house where my things no longer mold just from being inside the building.

Thankful that I have a house.

Thankful that after struggling for years with gray/cloudy skies, I am living out a two-year respite of sunshine and blue skies.

Thankful that when I went to clean out my mini-fridge yesterday, I came to realize that over half of what was inside was deliciousness I had been given by six different families. Love.

Thankful that I have a mini-fridge to clean out.

Thankful for the hospitality, love and patience of my Nicaraguan community.

Thankful I have not gotten Dengue.

Thankful that my self-care afternoon this week included spending three hours at a rural beach swimming and splashing around a natural, crystal-clear swimming pool that forms when the tide is out with local kids.

Thankful that later this afternoon I will get to be swimming in a pool and enjoying turkey, gluten-free stuffing, and no-bake cookies with some dear friends and PC staff.

Thankful that I have met some pretty incredible people over the last few weeks who have changed my views about the future, careers, and loving the job you have.

Thankful that I get to see my dad in t-minus three weeks.

Thankful that regardless of parasites, thefts, and the hard days, I get to live out this dream of spending a couple years abroad.

Thankful for my incredible friends and family back in the States who I know are rooting for me and love me.

Lastly, thankful that I have no shame in posting this early-morning, puffy-face selfie for you all to enjoy. See Mom? I’m alive and happy 🙂

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Love you all dearly. Happy turkey day!

Cemetery Celebrations.

 “Hay más tiempo que vida.”

(Translation: “There is more time than life”)

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Dia de Los Muertos was celebrated in my community yesterday. It was incredibly beautiful to be a part of, but also brought up (again) something I have been struggling with lately: the contradicting actions of living in poverty vs. spending large quantities of money.

This is a touchy topic to me. It feels incredibly personal and intimate, and yet strangely detaching. So I speak of this cautiously.

I often talk with families that claim over and over to be incredibly poor, but yet have TVs for every person in their house, or a brand new refrigerator. Where is the money to buy these new things coming from if a family is ‘poor’? Most of my ‘wrestling’ with this idea is really just me trying to learn how to not judge in the face of these conversations. I know that my understanding of these things, especially each situation, is limited, and it is not my place to label the decisions of my community. But it is hard. Especially on days such as these, when it is so blatantly evident, especially noting how much money goes into preparing the grave sites, purchasing flowers, and the elaborate displays that are erected at each headstone. Family’s really invest in this each year. Some more spendy, others more humble. But regardless of much money is spent, it is obvious how important this time is to community members.

And for that, I am learning to observe and appreciate, not judge.

 I walked with my host family to the town’s cemetery to lay flowers on their deceased family members’ graves, and was amazed at gathering of people. The cemetery had turned into a festival of sorts. Food vendors, a Catholic mass being held at the front entrance, thousands of bouquets of flowers, family cleaning headstones, kids running around, and a general feel of quiet celebration. It was calm. And beautiful.

I do believe that whatever financial decisions we make, we can all choose to pause and appreciate those who have gone before us. Something that my Nicaraguan friends and family do very well.So I will step down off of my soapbox for the moment and share with you all some images of the beauty that was in the air yesterday.

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