Written By: Alison T.
We are getting closer and closer to the end of our time in Pearl Lagoon. The halfway mark of our internship has passed, and we now have 2 months and 2 weeks left. Unreal. We’ve also used the word “unreal” to describe several of the experiences that we’ve had here in the Lagoon. Looking back on where I was day one and where I am now, I feel like my experiences can be culminated as memories, moments and mishaps.
There are several wonderful memories that we’ve created that are not work related. Day to day life in Pearl Lagoon can be very monotonous so we’ve started using our weekends to explore outside of Pearl Lagoon. In September we managed to spend 2 out of the 4 weekends out of the Lagoon by taking a day trip to the Pearl Cays and an overnight trip to Rockypoint farming community.
Having the time to unwind away from the Lagoon, and just enjoy the great weather and tropical climate that we’re living in helps make the mishaps not so bitter. I constantly remind myself to take in and enjoy the little moments. Be it a beautiful sunset over the Lagoon, or taking a moment to enjoy the fresh breeze from the Lagoon that flows into our work space at Casa Ulrich.
I’ve also started to appreciate celebrations even more –whether it be a birthday, national holiday or fundraising event, there’s always something worth celebrating in the Lagoon. September, especially, was full of birthdays! Shivani celebrated her birthday September 12th then followed Joana on September 26th, and finally Jasmina’s “half birthday” on September 30th. Yes, that’s right –half birthday. Since only half of us are celebrating actual birthdays in Pearl Lagoon, we’ve adopted the celebration spirit and will be recognizing the half birthdays as well! Mine will be on November 30th 🙂
So, let’s get to the mishaps. You may wonder what I mean by mishaps. Basically, it’s the fact that flexibility and patience are key when doing development work in Nicaragua. My fellow ECE intern Sam described it perfectly in her last blog post “Don’t Make Plans…”. Her, myself and the two gender equality interns (Stephanie and Joana) spent several weeks planning the rights workshop “I Have the Right…” to be delivered at the General Assembly of the myBEST project in Orinoco. The night before we were to leave, one of our supervisors called and said not all 4 of us could attend because of issues with the budget. I must admit it was my most frustrating moment of this entire experience so far. We were all at a loss for words and couldn’t decide what to do about it. I went to bed that night convinced I wouldn’t be going anywhere in the morning, so I didn’t even bother packing my overnight bag. I woke up late to the sound of rain and looked out my window to see that it was a cloudy and overcast day. The verdict: none of us were going anywhere. There was no gas in Pearl Lagoon for the panga, nor were there ideal travelling conditions. So, we would all head out the following morning. Yes, all of us. We no longer had to choose who would go and who would stay since we were no longer planning a 2-day trip. I was relieved and happy, but mentally exhausted by the whole process and still a little skeptical that we would even be leaving the Lagoon the following morning….
The following morning, I awoke to sunshine and perfect conditions for panga travel. All 8 of us packed into the panga and headed for Orinoco. It’s a very small community, with no roads, and only dirt paths leading from house to house.
Despite the small size of Orinoco, community members came out in great numbers to the workshops. The Parent Liason interns (Jay and Kelsie) facilitated a workshop on Violence and Discipline to parents in the morning. There was an intriguing discussion about corporal punishment as a form of discipline and one of the men in attendance was passionate about the idea that parents should communicate with their children and not resort to corporal punishment. The active participation made me excited to facilitate the children’s rights portion after lunch, since I hoped to discuss a case study which included an example of corporal punishment. When the General Assembly began in the afternoon there were nearly 50 people in attendance. I facilitated my portion at the very end and led the community members in a discussion of why it’s important to teach children about their rights, even from a young age. We then discussed 2 case studies where children’s rights were violated and talked about how they could have been respected in each situation. The participation was great, and at the end of the day I was glad we had all made it to Orinoco to facilitate the workshop.
We didn’t leave Orinoco until after 5pm so darkness fell over us during the panga ride home. At first we were a bit frustrated with the fact that we weren’t leaving on time (typical Canadian tendency!), but in the end the ride home was breathtaking. It was the best view of the stars I’ve seen during my time in Pearl Lagoon. I sat in the panga staring straight up and admiring the view. So, although the experience began with a mishap, at the end of the day I wouldn’t trade the memories that were made, and the moments I’ll remember, for the mishaps that lead to them.