Carole and Manu: “It took a few weeks to adapt and build relationships that quickly became long-lasting.”
What struck us first when we arrive at Ometepe was the peace that seems to reside there. It’s colorful, it’s alive, but as if it’s preserved from anything. It felt like we were in a simpler time. After being welcomed by our hosts (with dance and music, we will never forget), we gave in to the nostalgia of not being able to communicate with them, not speaking Spanish but having too much desire to express our excitement to be there! It took a few weeks to adapt and build relationships that quickly became long-lasting. They shared their culture with us, the festive sports, culinary; which took a lot of space when Manu and Mina began to make cakes, without a fridge, without molds, without scales, and with an oven …
During our time there we got to experience and were exposed to many new things. We saw a bullfight/rodeo which was a mixture of the two except without the harm to our friends the beasts. We also rode horses, fished, learned local “Poker” and drank rum while listening to Ronald play music on the beach. Our life was calm with scattered moments of thrilling new experiences. In exchange for a life of beach and sun, we did our best to teach them what we knew, we focused mostly on teaching them English! We were in charge of a class of 25 children, some of whom were very young. The children were very energetic and sometimes we would have trouble getting their attention and making sure they brought the right materials to class. There would even be times were some of the children would keep their notebooks for 10 days at a time before we, the teachers, even saw them. But it’s part of the fun and we laughed all the time! They were full of energy and always were smiling; it was a party every day! Whenever we brought the camera or photos to class the children were most mesmerized.
I loved to sew with the older ones, which was another activity apart from the regular English lessons. They were “calm”, focused and applied themselves well. It was great to see the older students’ creativity. Some students would even arrive 5 minutes early when we knew the norm was for people to arrive an hour late; it was a small victory for us! We made great stuffed toys embroidered with their mother’s portraits; they all had the same dress. We even managed to partially clean the streets, which were riddled with bags that we repurposed as stuffing for the toys.
To Manu shock, he became an instant hit with the children and the other volunteers. He discovered and expanded his ability to bond with individuals and his ease with conversation during his time in Ometepe.
The “juveniles “Jovenes” respected the tradition of always arriving one hour late! But, like everyone on this island, they were nice always smiling and we would laugh together!
Personally, I have realized that I converse easier with adults and that teaching was more based on natural intuition.