When we arrived in Matagalpa I was immediately excited to explore the community because it appeared more walkable and relaxed than the hustle and bustle of managua. We immediately headed up into the picturesque hillside where as we climbed we saw the red and black FSLN markings of the sandanista party we had learned so much about. After we arrived at our destination, La Selva Negra “The Black Forest” we sat down for a wonderful meal and chit chat before embarking on a several hour long hike through the forest. The hike was an experience none of us will forget, and a reminder about trying new things and not giving up. Even with sliding up and down mud trails, seeing new plants, and fearing animals, we made it back with huge smiles on our faces and some awesome exercise!
Our second day in Matagalpa was extremely informational and left many lasting impressions.First, we visited the casa materna which is a home in the city for mothers from rural areas to come get medical attention, care, and education as they await their births. It was wonderful to be able to meet some of the women and to hear about their families and various experiences. Hearing from the 15 year old mothers was the most moving because many of the students were able to think about their own goals of education and careers while these young mothers were so focused on having their children, and maybe, school would come later. After another lovely treck in to the mountains, we were greeted with a warm welcome from Vicente Padilla (not the famous baseball player), but a famous Nicaraguan revolutionary, and his family, who told us their stories of struggle and hope throughout their lives. Here, we had a living visual example, of strength and struggle, and of how people stay true to their beliefs and values even when there are significant barriers put in their way.
As we leave Matagalpa, it is not just with our woven crafts and organic coffee, it is with a better understanding of what life is and was like for the people of Nicaragua. I for one, leave continuing to challenge my own ability to stand up in the face of adversity and hoping to continue to share all the stories I have learned with my family, friends, students, and anyone who will listen!