It has been two months since I returned to my home in California, leaving Nicaragua behind. With some time and lots of miles between me and my experiences in Central America, here is my reflection on those eight months.
I boarded the plane for Managua looking for adventure and direction in my life. I found both in varying degrees. Adventure I found in spades. Part of what is so alluring about travel is that in many ways it is like living in fast forward. So many intense experiences and friendships are packed into each day, week or month that; personal growth and a certain level of adrenalin are unavoidable parts of travel. Living on the Project Bona Fide Farm I worked alongside of new friends from all over the globe. I swung a machete with Sarah from Colorado, carried bricks on my head with Jass from Canada and learned to harvest coconuts with Hector from Nicaragua. I climbed an active volcano with Americans, Brits and Nicaraguans. I soaked in the beauty of undisturbed beaches all by myself.
As a plane carried me from foggy San Francisco to sunny Managua I wrote in my journal about what I hopped to achieve during my time in Central America. That journal is now long gone, the bag it was in was stolen from over my head while I naively slept on a bus from Granada to Rivas. But the thoughts which occupied my mind during that flight are still vivid in my mind. To my thinking, my trip would be worthwhile if I could positively impact the lives of at least three women. I thought I would feel successful if I could help at least three women make real changes in their lives, reclaim agency over their lives. Leaving Ukiah I thought I might do this through a sort of mutual support circle for young women in the town of Balgue, Island of Ometepe. That support circle did not end up being the project which the community of Balgue wanted or needed. Instead I got to support a group of six women who were working with a peace corps volunteer to form a sewing coop. Working with the coop combined my desire to work with women and my love of textiles. For five months I met with them and Noelle, the Peace Corps volunteer, to discuss and problem solve everything from product distribution, through using Facebook to promote said products. Later in my trip I was fortunate to get to continue working with women in a weaving coop in the north of the country. My experiences with the two coops cemented my drive to work with women to help them develop tools to gain agency in their lives. While I do not yet know what form exactly my work will take I do now have a direction to move in.
A thousand thanks to all of you who make up my global village, knowing that you believe in, support and love me has given me the strength to venture into the unknown and reach for the stars.
hasta la proxima aventura, Allison