The national bird of Nicaragua is the guardabarranco, a lovely little creature with yellow chest and a splash of red on its wings and a long tail of bright blue like the pendulum of a grandfather clock.
It is so common on the way to and in Las Minitas but every time it lifts and flies you see it is beautiful.
I was surprised yesterday, at the opening of the preschool, that Marisela wrote “Bienvendios al preescolar Guardabarranco” on the whiteboard.
I still don’t know if the families named the school or if it’s what every preschool is named. But it fits.
I have been inspired for many years by Marisela’s family, whose father founded the coffee cooperative, and other families there for years. What they have accompplished for their community, and the dreams they foster, despite very few resources.
I remember the day I decided to help them with their dream to open a preschool there for the kids now and in the future. Raising $4,500 seemed like a daunting task. The Friends Project (me and friends, literally) have helped with college scholarships and resources for coffee toasting and English class, but I’m not sure I’ve even ever saw $4,500.
We raised it though, and in short order; all people who either saw it happening or share the same belief, that everyday people working together can have tremendous impact.
Every day in that time was remarkable to me, and confirmed to me that this idea is not an idea, but a living, breathing THING.
Every day building the school has been remarkable, especially hauling bricks alongside Sergio and Alcides, or trying to fling the cement just right and forcefully enough to cover the walls.
In these times it showed me we are truly partners and opening the school yesterday was amazing.
At night I spent hours at Anunsciacion and Bernardo’s, talking and playing games, about ideas, what it’s like to travel on a plane, how you make coffee, killing chickens for lunch, …
This last time, Marlon and Fatima were there as always, and Marvin and another of Bernardo’s sons and we talked around the table, chickens waltzing in and out til hours past their regular bedtime.
Are there big differences between US and Nicaragua?
I said to them, yes, there are many. But it is like water in the sea. There is water you see on top. Below it is dark and deep and you do not know what is there, which is one the greatest things. But you do not know what is there, and it seems very different.
There are many differences here, like this water on top. Riding horses to school, growing only your own food, the way people do things and how things are day to day. But it on top water only.
When you swim down and you are in the dark and the deep, you find it is very much the same, with people who believe the same things and work for them and you and it are very much the same.
That is the greatness of the big water.
I also tried to tell them that this place and they have been an inspiration to me, and in many ways, the differences here are better.
Families are very close; they all live int he same house. but they are friends too, and there is nothing to do, like go to cinema or watch TV or go to restaurants, so people sit and talk for hours and hours, like us, and it is my most favorite thing.
Marvin told me then that this was my house too, and my family.
And that has been the most important thing, I guess, that in doing this project and we all partnering to get it done, that you can arrive somehwere that is on the top water very very different if not extremely different and find a second family when you take that breath and dive down.