The Meltdown

We returned from Nicaragua last night about 8:30 pm. This is a fairly reasonable time for our kids. None of us sleep while traveling – car, plane, train, bus – be it two in the afternoon or two in the morning, we are all generally alert. But during the last half of our trip home yesterday, all three of the kids were somehow asleep on my lap in the back of the shuttle as Matt yammered away in Spanish with Jose in the front seat.

We had spent a few moments on the last leg of our drive basking in the glory of our kids’ ability to “cope” during the previous three days of traveling.

“Patience,” however,  was the word of the day today – exchanged between me and Matt via pensive looks and whispers. There were a lot of unexplained tears from all three of them and a substantial “meltdown” from Jacob – sweet, sensitive Jacob, at only 8 in the morning. Like all of us, they returned home to their comfort zone and let go – really “let it go.”

Our trip was motivated by our need to get a stamp on our passports, renewing our visas, so we are legal to stay here in CR for another three months. Despite the motivation, we wanted to see and experience Nicaragua. We stayed in the heart of Granada for two nights and saw some of the surrounding highlights. It was a positive whirlwind of activity, shadowed by extreme poverty. CR has been an adjustment and a change of perspective, but Nicaragua was a real learning experience for the kids.

I have always struggled to explain to the kids how fortunate they are to be educated, to have simple creature comforts, (and beyond). But, seeing four year old little girls selling mangoes for money at 7 pm and starving animals on every street corner, was a lesson that we didn’t need to put into words. We saw the barrios along the PanAm highway as we drove toward Nicaragua – the cinderblock homes looked like the “good life” when compared to the tin sheds next door.

Little did we know that Granada was such a bustling center of activity. Surrounded by history, culture, color and architecture. It is an exciting place to visit, but the poverty there is still prominent . Our hotel was five blocks from the center of Granada. Block one was filled with hostels and hotels. Block two was filled with peoples’ homes and small stores. As we would approach the third block, we were met with trash, homeless dogs and, one night, a man with one eye and a limp, (seriously), on our heels speaking gibberish – drunk, homeless, threatening. We all took a breath and moved on, but the hairs on my neck were standing. We returned to our hotel and went to bed.

At 2 a.m. the power went out – didn’t come back on til the next afternoon. Again, the kids stayed calm, stayed close, stayed alert, but didn’t “melt.” We talked during the comfort of every meal, about their observations. Their observations were simple but astute. Without complaint, they expressed what they felt about their discomfort. Their ability and sense of calm and confidence was worth three trips to Nicaragua.

This morning, we witnessed the “letting down,” but they spent the rest of the day pretending that they were running a bank in Nicaragua with their Cordobas, (Nicaraguan money). They had security guards, metal detectors, and bars on their pillow windows. Yes, they were really “working it out.”

This is only one simple, (yet longwinded) explanation of a great, life altering three days that was really, really positive.

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