Travel Day | Nicaragua

Tilly

Tilly

Photographer

10-06-2017 Sunday

Day Objectives: Travel Day

Notes and Personal Impressions

I didn’t want to go to Nicaragua.  I wanted to go to Africa, it’s been a lifelong dream for as long as I can remember. I also just wanted to shoot for Photographers Without Borders (PWB). I had been following them since they started about four years ago, applying for two years, and finally got a phone call to interview in person. I was so excited to get a chance to interview, talk about the project I applied for and my love of animals, and why I would be a great pick for this NGO in Africa. Selfishness is how I started this trip: a lot of I want, I want, I want.

Cue the sound of a record scratch. They wanted me to go to Nicaragua.

Later, I learned Casa Pueblito had applied over a year ago for a photographer. All the previous photographers for the project fell through. I said yes, fundraised $2,700 for my trip, and less than two months later found myself on a plane. SEA-ATL-MGA. I was scared and felt out of touch with what I had gotten myself into. I sat uncomfortably at the airport in Seattle waiting for my flight and wrote to my Instagram followers some brutal honestly like I am writing you today.

“I have no wanderlust. I don’t have fomo. I am very comfortable never leaving my home. Seattle is the most beautiful city in the world in my opinion, and everyone I love is here. Why leave? I am sad sitting here in the airport. I already miss the most important human in the world to me, my bug. People keep asking me if I am excited about my trip- I felt guilty to say “no” in response. But it’s honest. I am honored for the experience. Before me is a challenge, growth opportunity and a chance to learn. I am nervous. Two weeks without my family in a country all alone without any of my creature comforts. I am so uncomfortable. I raise an invisible glass and think ‘Here to expanding my thinking and my rubber band of life. Here to a chance to give back.“

The last leg of my flight was rough. We were on the same path as Tropical Storm Nate and the ride was very bumpy. I got thoroughly motion sick, which is never fun. I counted down the minutes for the plane to land. Once on the ground, I stepped out onto the tarmac and was hit in the face with a hot wet towel of heat and humidity. There was no mistaking I landed in Central America in a tropical climate.

Waiting for me eagerly at the airport were Ashley and Simone. Their welcome was warm and kind. I immediately felt like we were all friends. The green diesel pickup truck was modest, and rumbled through the dark streets of Managua. Wipers squeaked across the windshield to remove the now dissipating rain from TS Nate. I was struck by the exhaust from the cars. I thought it was the motion sickness as the fumes added to my nausea.

Once at the Casa, I was immediately humbled at the sleeping arrangements and thought , “What have I gotten myself into.” Fear set in, and I knew I could let it paralyze me, or I could be in for some major personal growth. I called my husband and I am embarrassed to admit I cried. I’m still not sure if I was crying from discomfort and nausea, if I was regretting my decision, or missing my son. Probably all of the above.

I took my first of many cold showers accompanied by the spiders and ants who are rent free tenants at the Casa, whom I would later grow to tolerate. But not tonight.

There is a trashcan next to every toilet in Nicaragua for toilet paper because nothing but human waste can be flushed. This was one of many things that took getting used to. I crawled in the sheets of my bunk bed that night watching the ants on my pillow. They stopped to look at me as if to say, “I got here first.” I was too tired to try to fight them off and closed my eyes.

“Sometimes the most scenic roads in life are the detours you didn’t mean to take.”

Angela N. Blount, Once Upon an Ever After

This begins my photography journey for Photographers Without Borders who partnered with Casa Pueblito for me to capture the work being done in Nicaragua. I am honored to tell the stories of the people I met and pray I do them justice with imagery and words.

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