Heading into the fifth week of my placement it’s fair to say I’ve got to know Parcila pretty well. What seemed at first to be a community in need has turned out to be so much more. It’s true that yes you might not find a washing machine or even a working tap here, but what you will find surpasses all materialistic needs. In the words of my host father “full stomach, happy heart”, it’s this which makes Parcila so special - the people.
Coming from a big city like London, I don’t think I knew the true meaning of community until I was immersed into one. Although being dropped into the middle of the Nicaraguan mountains may have been daunting at first, it’s now become a home away from home. The animals we used to run from have now become our friends, with the local cat recently giving birth in our bedroom - the kittens’ names we still haven’t agreed on. Total strangers greeting you with an ‘Hola’ or ‘Buenas’ is an everyday occurrence, a far cry from the silence of London’s tubes.
One thing especially that has struck me whilst living in Parcila is the willingness of people who have so little, to want to give so much. It’s a real treat when the ‘Doña’ of the house you’re digging holes in comes out with some fresh watermelon for you to get stuck into, also great because you were just about to pass out from the heat. Let me just point out that the land we dug holes in was not your average fertile soil, but hard dry clay that might as well have been cement with the amount of rocks that lurked below.
There are a total of 70 families in Parcila, so as you can imagine it’s not a huge village - but what it lacks in size it makes up for in heart. “We may be poor but we are happy” is what was said to me by one of the locals, words that I think will stick with me for a very long time. I myself am guilty of getting caught up in things that have no real meaning or substance, but living in Parcila has taught me to appreciate the little things that often get overlooked in Western life. I feel as though I’ve stepped into a time machine and gone back to a time when material possessions didn’t make people happy, people did.
Sitting with my host family as I write this (just to mention there’s a total of 13 of us living here at the moment) I was overcome by the sound of chatter and laughter with the odd preachers cry from the local church - almost so overcome that I must admit I’m struggling to write this. It’s this noise however that makes me think about all the family times I’ve wasted sitting on my phone or watching television, not appreciating the people around me. Parcila is like a big family, rather than a small community, a family that I feel as though I have been fully welcomed into.
All in all Parcila is a beautiful community with beautiful people, and I can’t wait to see what the rest of my placement has in store - even if it is another scorpion bite.
Written by ICS volunteer Holly McGrath