This past February I was presented with the opportunity to go back to the communities in Nicaragua I traveled to over the Summer. Growth International Volunteer Excursions, GIVE, would be having a ceremony for the school that we helped build.
The ceremony would signify the relationship between GIVE and the technical education department in the Nicaragua government. It would represent a token of good faith between the two organizations and strength moving forward. I was beyond excited by the opportunity and could wait to apply for the volunteer teamand purchase my plane ticket.
As if this wasn’t exciting enough, I later found out there would be celebrity volunteers traveling with us… and that some of Seattle Seahawks team members were involved!
My dad has had season tickets for as long as I can remember and he likes to joke that I was, “born to bleed blue and green” so the slight possibility that I could travel with the franchise in any capacity was extremely exciting. I couldn’t imagine what interactions with them would be like because I held them to I higher level than others.
Trip prep was exciting. I had been there only six months before so the feelings, sights, and sounds of central america were still fresh in my mind. I found out I was going December 16, 2014 and my flight was scheduled to leave Seattle February 8, 2015 so I had less than two months to get myself ready for departure.
Then, it was February 8th! I didn’t know what to expect and the butterfly’s set in quick! I spent the entire day of travel trying to predict what it would be like and how being back in Nicaragua would feel. Before I knew it I was landing in Managua! I had traveled with a friend of mine, Corrine, and stepping into the muggy Nicaraguan evening air, we both looked at each other and knew this was the beginning of a crazy adventure.
The anxiety continued as we waited for the rest of the volunteers to arrive. Being the first to land it both a blessing and a curse. You get to settle in and get a lay of the land, but you also have to sit at a hot sticky airport in a country who speaks a language that isn’t your own. It didn’t take long before the rest of the group was filing over to us. In total we were about 25 members strong, and we were all exhausted.
We piling into vans and drove across the street to a hotel for the night, since we would need to be at the airport the next morning in order to head to Little Corn Island, a small Caribbean island located off the Eastern coast of Nicaragua’s mainland. When I say small, I mean SMALL. The entire population is estimated to be at 1,200, 75% of which being tourists according to RightsideGuide.com. We headed straight to dinner at the hotel in order to get to know each other. As we started introducing ourselves it seemed like pretty much everyone was from Seattle and over half of the group had been invited by Jermaine Kearse, Seattle Seahawks wide receiver. Being a past volunteer, I knew what to expect. Long days, hard work, blood, sweat and tears. Traveling abroad to volunteer is the hardest, most rewarding thing I’ve ever done. Where as I might give up while working on a project back home when I’m traveling I will push myself far past any mental limitations I put on myself. I was under no impression that this was a vacation or relaxing get away. So as I listened to the other volunteers I began to not only worry but chuckle because it was apparent that they had no clue what they had just gotten themselves into. My favorite quote from the first night was from Eric Barton, a former line backer who played in the NFL for 12 years. He stood up introduced himself and said, “I honestly thought we were going on a surf vacation.”
I had no idea how I was going to bond with these people. They weren’t my age, they were at different points in their lives (some were married, some had children, engaged, etc), they were professionals in their respective fields, and they did not seem to be there for the same purpose I was. I kept thinking about the bonds I had made my with volunteer group over the summer and couldn’t see myself being able to get anywhere close to that with these people.
To be continued…