Emily Grant (’13) is 21 years old and from East Wenatchee, Washington. She is currently studying at the Costa Rica Center, trying to learn Spanish (as an excuse to travel all over Central and South America) and graduate in a timely manner.
Emily recently wrote this creative nonfiction piece after the CRC group’s week in Nicaragua (photo below by fellow CRC student Danny Parker, ’15.)
Standing at the border is a man waiting to rip you off. Don’t worry yourself too much about it. It’s going to happen whether you know the exchange rate or not. And you expected this, so you only handed him a large chunk of your money – but not all of it. To make matters worse, it’s hot. It’s too hot. You want to complain about how hot it is, about how you’ve been ripped off, about how much you hate busses, and Customs lines, and being a tourist, but it’s too hot to complain. So you just roll up your pants a little more, tuck your meager $12 of Nicaraguan currency into your pocket, and keep going.
You won’t spend your money the first day. Maybe not even the second or third. Not that there’s nothing to buy, but you’re not ready to get ripped off again. Once per vacation is enough of that. Instead, you walk around in your sweaty clothes, looking at museums and prisons, trying not to pass out in the heat. There are so many interesting things to see and do! you think to yourself. … if only I could do all these things, and not be so hot.
You will hear about the FSLN. You will hear the name Daniel Ortega, but only about a tenth of as often as you hear about Sandino. You will speak to a man who was in both of the wars; he will tell you the truth about it, and you may feel as if you are witnessing a profound moment, or you may not. You will see culture, architecture, a dump. You will play with children who live in the dump, and talk to girls who could have wound up working there. You will buy a beer and listen to a man who might just believe Jesus lives in the dump, too.
Finally, before you go, you will spend your money. You will not get ripped off. In fact, most of the vendors will cut you a deal, because they feel sorry for your inability to barter. You will pack your new trinkets with your smelly clothes and get ready to say good-bye.
And you won’t realize it until you’re home, until everyone asks you, “¿Cómo le fue?” that all you want to do is go back.