The following is an entry of some of my one-off, random stories. Some are funny, some are nice, some are scary and some are just random and interesting (in my head at least.)
1. The crazy priest.
At San Sebastián church the main priest was a little bit crazy. He looked and sounded just like one of the monsters out of Doctor Who, but I can’t think what they’re called. He just shouted everything, and would randomly walk off in the middle of Mass whilst continuing to say Mass, and no one ever knew where he went. WHen I first met him, he came up to me before Mass started and asked my name. I replied with “Mateo” and literally just said that I was a volunteer in Masaya. That was all. The priest then started Mass, welcomed Mateo and said I’ve been living there for many years and am there to teach the congregation English. Everyone started applauding wildly and people would always come up and shake my hand and thank me whenever I went back to that church after that. Bizarre moment number one of many.
On a couple of occasions, I randomly awoke in the middle of the night screaming. The first time I did it, I dreamt there was a giant creature on me, so I leapt up out of bed, of course forgetting I was surrounded by a mosquito net. Obviously, my mosquito net took a bit of a battering as I scrambled desperately out of bed. It was 3am, and I think I must have scared Harvie as he started looking under my bed and then spraying a variety of strange chemicals and burning lots of incense to ward off the imaginary nightmare creature!
One Saturday we were about to leave on a trip, we were stood in the Alcaldía when out of nowhere, loads of men with leaf-blowers (literally, they were leaf-blowers) came running in, barging everyone out of the way, demading everyone leaves their houses. It turns out they were fumigating for mosquitos, and this is a common thing in Nicaragua. It felt like an army routine.
4. Jueves El Santísimo.
One Thursday I went to Mass with Esmeralda and it was Jueves El Santísimo, Thursday of the Most Holy, which is celebrated every Thursday. They venerated the cross at the end of Mass, gave lanterns to the congregation and turned down the lights, there were lots of joyful hymns, full-scale dancing, clapping, swaying… It was such a cool, happy service.
5. Sign of Peace.
The Sign of Peace got me every time. Everything, everyone, stops. The whole church loses its structure, people lose their seats, dance around the church, shaking every hand they can find, music plays… it was such an integral part of their worship and I loved it.
Communion time was hell. There is no such thing as a queue in Nicaragua, and people just threw themselves at the ministers from all direcitons. Also, a cool little fact, in English we say “I have communion” or “I take communion.” In Spanish, or at least in Nica, they say “I communicate.”
We experienced so many sunsets. One was when I got stuck at Apoyo lagoon with Jacob and Katie so we just went back down to the beach and watched the sun set over the volcanic crater lagoon. It was stunning, and there is a photo below of it. Anoter was in the lagoon at Charco Verde on la Isla de Ometepe, the sun set over the volcano and huge birds flew across the blood-red sky… another was at Santo Domingo beach on the same island where it was a similar picture, and another memorable one was at San Juan Del Sur on the Pacific coast, not far from Costa Rica. Again, there is a picture of that one further down.
One day we went to the viewpoint for Apoyo which is called Catarina, and we trekked down to the lagoon from there through the forest, which took a good hour and a half. Halfway down, we came across a bees nest, so we trod carefully but they discovered us, and me and Jacob ended up being swarmed by them in our hair. At the same time, my foot got stuck in the mud and ants ate me alive. I was lucky not to get stung by a bee though!
There are millions of stories, millions, but I think I’ll be here forever, and some stories really are better left untold. So that’s it. All photos are up, everything is over, and life can begin again. But there will always be something different now in my life, I still haven’t fully worked out what sort of an impact it’s going to have on me and how I live, but when I do I think it’ll be pretty clear.
Thank you so much to everyone for reading my blogs and supporting me, it means so much to see that i’ve had nearly 1000 views! I never expected anything near that, and it has blown me away the sort of interest my experience has sparked. Keep an eye out for my Action at Home events, and if you want to get involved with Progressio, ICS, or any kind of voluntary work then please get in touch with me because there’s a lot I want to say about it.
“Every story has its end, but in life, every end is just a new beginning.”- Cycle 8, Progressio ICS Nicaragua, July-September 2014. Mission accomplished.