Salsa on the Radio

Today marks one month since I arrived in Nicaragua for my five month exchange program. The past month has been a long stretch of  minute-to-minute mood swings from excitement and contentment to overwhelming homesickness and frustration. Some days it’s the little things that get to me: You mean I have to bring my own toilet paper to school? And pour a bucket of water into the toilet to flush it? Or the sun is too bright, I am tired of having only five shirts, and I really miss eating cookies. But despite the various frustrations I have encountered while adapting to life here, I am already a little sad that I only have four months left in this bright, busy and beautiful country.

While frustrations with the differences of my surroundings can crop up and make me wish for nothing more than my own bed, the need to wear a sweatshirt and a visit to my favorite Seattle coffee shop, I know that if I really had the option to go home right now I wouldn’t take it. I have already done so many incredible things here, and there is so much more left to explore.

In the past month I have looked down into the mouth of an active volcano, hiked down into lava caves once used for sacrificial rituals, and been essentially adopted by a loving host family.  I have made friends in a second language, eaten more gallo pinto than I can count, and begun to learn firsthand about the history of a country that runs deep.

And then there’s the little moments. Last week my host sister and I were lying on my bed, not doing much of anything; just talking and flipping through the stations on the radio. I passed a station playing salsa music. “Wait, wait! Go back!” she said. “That was salsa!” Having always been a fairly uncoordinated dancer, I was a little bit wary, but she and I spent the rest of the evening practicing salsa steps in my bedroom, laughing and dancing until we were both exhausted.  It’s times like these, especially, that have made my first month here so incredible. Being unquestionably welcomed into the lives of strangers is both incredibly heartwarming and humbling: I can already tell that I will miss this place, and I have only been here for one month.