Wildly overdue, but here nonetheless. If you’ve followed my posts for the last three years, you may recall that I have concluded each teaching year with a post about the odd, interesting things that have occurred over the course of the year. This year got skipped.
I informed most of you that I was moving back to Canada. That decision was made in February, I believe, and was ridiculously challenging to make. Prior to that, I had no intention of coming back to Canada yet. But it was a good decision that I felt immense peace about. I had been compiling my interesting list of experiences for my final post. For example, I never thought I’d ever
- wake up suddenly from a nap because parakeets are storming through your door and are two feet from attacking you (recall: my life in Nica needs no embellishment. The words storming and attacking are precisely accurate.)
- become an FBI agent trying to catch a thief who visits your house on a weekly basis to fill his pockets with all of your nice things. Us two girls planted traps, rigged up a camera, were able to confront him, get most of it returned, and stop all future theft. No point going to the police in Nicaragua. And why would you need to when you’re as good as Sarah and I (with some instrumental help from our landlords)?!
However, the list of the “never thought I’d evers” felt a little trivial when my last month of Nicaraguan life proceeded as it did. And the reason this post is so overdue is because my feelings about it all still can’t be articulated. I could (and have) talked about it for hours and am no nearer a clear answer or feeling. So, just a few. I never thought I’d ever:
- see people I know, and hear of neighbours or others, who are kidnapped, killed, or imprisoned for saying, “I am tired of dictatorship. I want change. You cannot kill innocent protesters.”
- sit and watch the tv in the living room as media outlets and free speech are snuffed out one by one
- stand facing a grocery store aisle emptied of food and an ATM emptied of money with unknown refill dates
- have such anxiety about having a bonus month off of school!
- be in the midst of the hysteria and panic that ensues when an entire country falls into civil unrest
- see the police station down the street go up in flames
- drive by the remnants of such conflict – torn up roads, barricades built of bricks and trash, shattered glass, torn cloth, damaged signs, shells of what was in the streets
- see my home country spiral out of control so, so quickly
- learn that the embassy won’t actually send a helicopter to rescue you. Or a car. They’ll send you an automated email message suggesting safety tips. They close their building and pull out their families.
- have to prepare my family for potential lost contact
- come to doubt the goodness of police and government so completely
- hear at all hours hoards of people, shots, chanting, and cars in our sleepy, gentle area on the outskirts of the city
- have to leave without saying so many goodbyes – my Nica family, my students, and so many others
- be able to develop a “new normal” so quickly in the midst of unrest
- have my own elementary students participate in anti-government marches
- see so many people cling to peace. In response to the government’s cruelty, human rights abuses, and dictatorship, the vast majority of people have remained completely civil and peaceful. They march, they protest, they protect their local grocery stores, they cling to helping one another.
I never felt very unsafe. I was smart about where I went and when, but to be so immersed in the stories, the sights and sounds, the experiences of a country in such unrest produced feelings that I never would have imagined, every hour of every day.
The day I packed up my classroom I was told, “YOU can just leave. We can’t.” She meant well, and proceeded to shower me with hugs and blessings, but the guilt of being Canadian-born, as well as being so upset about a country’s heartache that isn’t even my own, was heavy.
Depending on who you ask and when, the situation is or is not any better. There seems to be more predictability to things and travel is easier. Things are pretty reliable. However, there are still many being threatened, killed, reported missing, and losing their jobs every day. Hundreds have been killed, thousands have been injured, and hundreds of thousands have lost their jobs. In one of the poorest countries in the western hemisphere already, this is a country that needs peace and justice. And they are certainly doing an admirable job of it, I think. But the government is not giving in easily. Human rights commissions are kicked out and power is not surrendered yet.
If you pray, I ask you to please, please keep Nicaragua in your prayers.
So, in my third year in Nicaragua, I didn’t think I would have many new “never thought I’d evers,” but I had too many more, most of which I would not have asked for. But as I saw the absolute worst of humanity, I also saw that people can be better than I ever would have thought possible, too. I am fundamentally changed by all three years in Nicaragua. And I don’t think I will ever be able to put into words everything I saw or felt or how I am changed. As I reread what I’ve written, I don’t feel I’ve conveyed anything I meant to. But I’ve spent long enough trying and wanted you to have a glimpse into the last months.
As a final note, for a bit of explanation, on April 19 school was cancelled for the day, on May 19, after having had school sporadically for a month, it was cancelled for the remainder of the year and May 21 (instead of the planned June 21) I flew back to Canada. Now I am teaching in a community in the Yukon. I plan to go back to Nicaragua to visit and hopefully say goodbye in March. I do not plan to blog anymore and appreciate all of your support these past few years. Please stay in touch and keep informed about Nicaragua and anything you might be able to do.