Last week I was in Las Conchitas, Nicaragua.
I began each day by taking my cup of coffee and a plastic chair and sitting alongside the dirt road that runs through that little community. I watched as a child ran down to the local pulperia and then back home with a bag of bread for breakfast. I watched as children in the crisp, clean blue and white uniforms arrived for school. I watched as couples (and sometimes families) pedaled by on their bicycle. I watched as the same farmer at the same time each day led his cattle down the road to the field where they would graze for the day. I saw people walking, people on bicycles, people on horse drawn carts and people on motorcycles. Not once in all the mornings I sat there did a see a car.
And, as I sat there each morning greetings were exchanged.
A nod of the head.
A shy “Good morning.”
A wave of a hand.
Something that does not happen very often when I walk down the sidewalk of the Village where I have lived for almost 25 years. Here eyes are averted and we tend to treat passers-by more as strangers than friends.
I felt content as I sat there each morning.
I felt connected in some small way to those who passed by.
I miss that now that I am home.
I miss the slower start to the day.
I miss the sense of community.
I only half jokingly tell people that I continue to lead service learning trips like this because there are lessons I still need to learn. One morning as I sat alongside that road with my cup of coffee, I realized that one of those lessons for me to learn is to take what I knew and experienced there – the walking rather than racing from one thing to the next and the acknowledgement of another rather than the averting of the eyes – and translate it into how I live here.