Leaving Miraflor

The morning is a blur of activity. Breakfast and coffee, hurried packing, long hugs goodbye, last trips to the loo.

Then waiting. The bus (that makes a twice daily circuit to Esteli and back) is late. And people begin to gather at the stop outside Myra and Marlon’s. From my short time and interviews, I can recognize new friends.

It’s hard to think of leaving. So I don’t. In the months of travel over the summer, I’ve gotten good at it. And I think of how amazing my time has been. But I can’t look at Martina for too long, or I feel tears start to rise to my eyes.

Myra sneaks up and hugs me and smiles, softly singing my name. Earlier, when I was still waiting for my coffee to kick in, Martina pulled me aside. Marlon and Myra were so touched when they found out I had paid for the groceries we’d brought on arrival. It was too much. They thought of me as family and wanted to return the favor. They wouldn’t charge me for my stay.

The kindness brought instant tears to my eyes. Of course I wanted to contribute to  my stay, to Martina’s project, to the people who were making my time in Miraflor so amazing. Then to have them turn around and give back, even more than the amazing time in their home, the dinners, the laughter, the horse-rides, all of it. For a second I appreciate the kindness. Then reach in my pocket for the money I’d planned to pay for my stay. I don’t even know the words so Martina (after triple checking, are you sure?) helps in Spanish, thanking them profusely, but firmly explaining I cannot accept the kindness as I wanted to share the groceries as a gift, and not paying for my lodging, would cancel out my gift. Instead I would insist on paying.

The tears in Myra’s eyes as she listened and then hugged me firmly. Since that morning, she stayed close to my side, Joyita, you are like our family, she whispers.

I honestly couldn’t think of any better use of my money.