Written by: Theresa Bailey, Princeton in Latin America Fellow 2015-2016, Comunidad Connect
When I first arrived in Los Robles I was bombarded by overwhelming feelings of excitement and ‘what have I gotten myself into’ – still overwhelmed by the singsong Nicaraguan accent that didn’t seem to form intelligible words in my head. As we weaved our way past the glistening lake and through the mountainous terrain, I wondered if I would be able to understand my host family.
We entered the community and I became acquainted with the cow-filled fields lining the main road. Finally I saw my house-to-be, gently nestled amongst thick forests of coffee. My nerves quickly returned as I stepped inside to meet my hosts. My host mother and father seemed kind, yet quiet, probably wondering if I would be happy here just as intensely as I was wondering the same. I have two host sisters, one my age and a 9-year-old, and a host niece who’s six – her father lives with us as well. It’s a full house and the first few nights I felt most comfortable chatting with our then pregnant cat who stared with understanding. I could feel the wariness surrounding the new ‘gringa’ – no one really knew what to say to break the ice.
However, we slowly began to bond over my love of children and baby animals. The more I played with my 9 and 6-year-old companions, the more at ease my host family became. We continued to bond over the kittens that were on their way and the chicks that had just begun to hatch – and much to their chagrin, we even named our baby pig ‘Watusa,’ a nod to her rust colored hair. When my host sister finally told me over dinner one night that one of the kittens was promised to be mine, I knew that the ice had finally broken; I was family. Today, lounging in the yard with a book in hand and my sisters by my side, I realized how content I was to be in Los Robles, excited for my future here in the community.