July 24, 2012

Worlds Apart . . . part 8

Day 8 of the trip - Friday. This was our last planned day in Nicaragua.

Here was the projected itinerary for that day:
  • 9:00 have bags packed and ready, then go to the Huembes market
  • 10:45 be back in the bus
  • 12ish be at the airport
  • 2:30 fly out of Managua
  • go straight through security and customs in Miami
  • 11pm arrive to RDU
The Huembers market was . . . interesting.

Honestly, I had spent virtually all of my money (I only had $9 cash to either buy food or caffeine at the airport if we had time), I was really ready to come home at this point, I was tired, and the cultural differences were starting to take a toll on me.

I was ready to have my own bathroom. I was ready to sleep in a room with closed windows, where you wouldn't hear the constant noise of traffic (we were near a highway and it seriously sounded like 18-wheelers were barreling down the middle of our bunk at times). I missed airplane noise (that's what I get for growing up near RDU :) ), I missed my friends, I wanted to hear my mom's voice on the phone. I can't believe I'm still saying this, but I missed my job. I missed the way America looks. The sight of trash, dirt and graffiti was wearing on me. I love the smell of bonfires and grills, but the fire in Nicaragua has a different . . . flavor (for lack of a better word) to it. I guess I missed the way our country smells, looks, and feels. Also, I was completely emptied out of pepto.

 It's so crazy to think about it . . . I remember riding in the bus, thinking about how bad we smelled, how bad the bus smelled, how bad outside smelled. Everyone was tired and ready to go.

The vegetation around us was always so beautiful and lush. We even drove by a valley, a volcano, Lake Nicaragua and those things were gorgeous . . . but almost juxtaposed, intermingling with the tattered roads, weary buildings, graffiti, trash, dirt and strange scents.

Speaking of strange scents, a group of us were together at the market and I was near the back as we were traveling through all of the aisles. Huembes had everything - from random stuff you might expect at Wal-Mart, staples, produce, groceries, etc. to the touristy little trinkets and T-shirts we had seen at one of the other markets. At one point, we started passing produce (which already smelled interesting) and then started going deeper and deeper into the heart (or the bowels) of the market. I don't know what was back there - some sort of meat, that I'm glad I never had to meet - but the smell kept growing in intensity and foulness. Thank goodness one of the girls hightailed it out of there (due to a vendor who started acting sketchy) because I was about to find out how strong my gag reflex was.

So yeah, we were all pretty ready to go . . . as we loaded up the bus for the last time, made a quick stop to the church to collect our passports . . . and were on our way to the airport.

We arrived later than originally planned, so tension was already running a little high. Once we started checking in, I saw the little papers for customs floating around . . . and thought, man - didn't we already fill those out? You mean we have to do it again? Or do we? (you can tell I travel outside of the country a lot, huh :) )

Then I started hearing a funny little rumor bubbling around our group, traveling back towards where I was standing in line. It sounded like they were saying that we were going to spend the night in Miami. Well that's funny. Resume random thoughts about America and pop music . . .

Oh no, it was not a rumor. It was reality. My brain couldn't take it. All I could think was - I have to get back. I am out of money, among other things like patience and sanity. They don't understand!

Hooooooold it together, Sarah. Well there was futile thought. Just as I tried to compose myself, I crumbled into a little pile of emotion and the dam opened again. Sweet Cheryl (who I call our trip's mom) wrapped her arm around me, told me things were going to work out and prayed over me. I don't think I will forget that moment, as it really meant a lot to me in the midst of chaos.

That afternoon, I was so thankful for the 17 people on our team. There were moments during the trip that I wondered if our team was completely random, or if we could even survive with 17 different personalities. But during that whole hot mess - things seemed to click. Cheryl, Jacque and Julie became our fearless leaders and made sure everyone was taken care of with the ever-changing game plan. Hillary's hyperness balanced out my depleted state, the guys brought comic relief, and everyone else eased the tension and nonsense.
we are SO HAPPY
 Thank God we were able to pick up wi-fi at the airport . . . and started sending out emails, updating our family members on the delays. I felt particularly stranded as I did not bring a cell phone or any credit cards, but Hillary was gracious enough to let me send an email from her phone. I told my mom that I would call her once we were back in the states, even though it would be super late (or early, depending on how you look at it).
so close, yet so far!!!!!
 Well, we had about 9 hours to burn and food vouchers for 12 US dollars. With the world's smallest airport, there was just so much to do. Cheryl treated us to beverages and thankfully someone had brought uno, so we ended up playing for about 2 hours. I'm telling you - best trip mom ever.

I don't even know what else we did to fill the time, except find ways to use the vouchers. 12 bucks goes a long way in Nicaragua - Nicole and I shared a voucher and got a frappuccino, hot chocolate, 2 pieces of tres leches cake, 1 piece of chocolate cake and 2 empanadas with change to spare. This was my first encounter with tres leches cake and it changed my world. I ate the entire piece while standing at the counter, waiting on my coffee drink.

Around 6pm, we got back in line to check in with our new flight. Janna ended up being next to me and suggested - Hey Sarah, sing for these two girls in line behind us!
I asked them if they knew who Nicki Minaj was, and they said yes - so I sang Super Bass for them and then got some fan photos afterwards :)

I'm back in line, unsuspecting, when Janna suggests - Sarah, look at aaalllll these people in line. Everyone is tired and in a bad mood. I bet you could make them feel a lot better if you sang for them.

That's funny.

Before I know it, she steps out to the crowd and announces, ATTENTION! ATTENTION! ESCUCHEN! OYE! OYE! My friend wants to sing a song for you all!!


Well, no turning back now. Especially since my team was egging me on and a few of them were chanting, do it, do it, everyone will like you!

Back to facing my fears - and there you have it. I rapped Super Bass for the Managua International Airport. I still can't believe I actually did that. Especially since I normally get nervous just rapping in front of 2 or 3 people!

Actually, it was kind of fun. Especially since I don't think I would do that in any other setting. Christine managed to get a video of it on her tablet . . . and people in the crowd were videotaping, taking pictures, and downright staring, according to Janna (I couldn't look at them because I was too nervous). If I can figure out how to post the video on this blog, I will share it :)

We finally boarded the plane . . . I'm guessing, around 9:45 that night. I had a huge surge of energy from all of the sugar, caffeine and recent famedom.

I wanted so desperately to sleep on the plane, but my heart ached for home and I was feeling anxious as well. I was so ready to be back, and I knew we still had a long ways. My attempts to sleep were in vain and I got emotional just anticipating hearing my mom's voice on the phone.

We were on our way homebound . . .

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