In total, I have been in Parcila for four days and in a vain attempt to process this unique, at times bizarre, but undoubtably life changing experience, I have compiled a list of random observations. In no particular order, these are the things that have struck me most:
- The journey to Parcila from Managua is truly breathtaking, with a panoramic view of lush rolling hills on all sides. I was so engrossed that I barely noticed the need for a sports bra, a fact that became increasingly obvious as the road became more and more precarious.
- The people of Parcila are incredibly warm and they have an incredible desire to please. One of the first questions is inevitably ‘What do you think of Parcila?’. My host family and people in the community have a great protective instinct, which has made me feel very safe and secure.
- Not even in a trip to the zoo have I been exposed to quite so many animals in one vicinity. While it seemed somewhat strange to have chickens roaming around the house on day one, on day two it was less of a shock when a pig scratched it's back on the kitchen door. It came as no surprise when on day three a toad the size of my small human head made itself comfortable in my bedroom. The solution, one of many things I've learned since my short time here, is to throw water and salt 'directly into its eyes', a task which is harder than it would seem.
- Never before have I eaten quite so many carbohydrates in one sitting. Today's lunch consisted of a generous portion of rice, an even bigger portion of spaghetti and a tortilla to wash it all down. This of course came several hours after my second breakfast of the day consisting of potatoes, rice and another tortilla.
- Sense of time here is much different. People wile away the hours completing tasks in the house, chatting, sitting, watching telenovelas (soap operas) or kicking a ball about. Days pass with a much more civilised pace, nothing is rushed, there is no sense of urgency, yet daily tasks get completed as and when they are needed. It's a refreshing change.
- I am slowly growing accustomed to feeling constantly clammy and having a permanently sweaty lip. I no longer even try to wipe it away as it will inevitably reappear in a matter of seconds with increasing vigour.
- The sense of community is overwhelming. It's perfectly normal to walk into a house two doors down to watch a telenovela, as long as you bring your own plastic chair. My favourite thing to do so far is watch the telenovela ‘Bajo el mismo cielo’ every day at 7pm in the house opposite. This attracts a great portion of the street, including the local teenage boys who watch it religiously, which never fails to amuse me.
- People from Parcila are naturally quite shy but they are always warm and show a smile. However, once you initiate a conversation, they are very receptive and open to engage.
Written by ICS UK Team Leader Laureen Walker