We practiced our song all afternoon. It's a really cool song but it sure has a lot of words. In the end, we decided that each person would only sing one verse and then we'd all join in on the chorus and that worked out well. Everyone at the despedida knew the song and sang with us. It was powerful with everyone yelling "¡Presente!"
After our performances, our host parents shared stories about things they'd done with their "son" or "daughter" and everyone shared something they'd learned from the experience. It dawned on me that I had come to Nicaragua dreading the experience of having to live with strangers. I would have much preferred to stay in a hotel. I didn't realize that living with these families and coming to think of them as our parents, brothers, or sisters was a big part of what we had to learn. I was touched that my friends from the Salvadoran art collective showed up. They gave me a little painting of a Salvadoran landscape and several painted seeds pendants they'd made for me, plus a bunch of FMLN pins and literature for me to take home and share with my friends.
Hold on. I hear some music outside my door.
Guess what? I was minding my own business, writing in my journal when Lenin, my little sister Carelia's boyfriend, brought me a serenata. He and one of his friends came by with a guitar and sat outside my door singing. I could see Carelia peeking from her room. It was really sweet and it would have been romantic if it had been an actual love interest serenading me instead of my little sister's boyfriend! But it was still a brand new experience for me. Truthfully, I can't imagine a guy back home doing anything like this. They sang all kinds of romantic songs for me and even a couple of upbeat ones at the end. My friend, Nancy, from the school came over about halfway through the serenade and sat on the doorstep with me and near the end Francie came out too. Carelia's great to conjure this up for me and Lenin is a sweetheart to go along with it. I bet I'm the only NICA student who got a serenade.
I'm back in Managua at Hospedaje Norma. We must have gotten the worst room in the place but I'm too tired to care. I woke up at 5:30 this morning, I just couldn't sleep. Francie said she had to take a sleeping pill because she couldn't sleep either. This morning we all cried and hugged and kissed. I feel as though I'm being ripped in two. I really started to think of myself as part of this family. I love these people more than I would have ever thought possible. I miss them right now and I've only been gone half a day. I guess it's knowing that I won't be seeing them for a long time that makes my heart ache. I intend to come back to Nicaragua as soon as I can.
When we got to Managua, a few of us went to the Robert Weimbus market for some shopping. Some people fly out tonight, others within the next few days. Many of the students want to take something back to a friend or family member. I didn't buy much, just a few postcards and some candy. Managua feels very different from Esteli, it doesn't have that neighborly feel that Esteli has and I found myself walking around the market wishing Lisette was with me to share the candy.
In the afternoon, I said goodbye to Nancy and Audrey. I'll miss them. Audrey in particular has been my best friend during this trip. She goes back to Boston and I don't know when I'll see her again. More tears. To cheer ourselves up, a small group of us decided to go to a restaurant called Pizza Boom that some of the kids in this neighborhood said was really good. It wasn’t. With pop music playing loudly over the speakers and colorful decor, I could see why kids would like it but they served the worst pizza I've ever had.
As we were sitting and not eating our pizza, the conversation went back to an incident that happened a few days ago. There had been a heinous suspected Contra attack in a place called Santa Cruz, just a few miles from Esteli. The reason I say that it was a "suspected" Contra incident is that despite the fact that everybody is pointing the finger at the Contras, I can't understand the logic of hacking up a little boy and an old lady with a machete. What could be the reason for that? How does it benefit anyone's cause? I don't like the Contras but it seems to me that people always want to blame every crime on them. I mean, the incident a few weeks back with the poisoning of the children in Condega is still being investigated, yet the rumor that the Contras poisoned the food is already being circulated. I wonder if some child killer is running around free and happy that the Contras are the prime suspects?