Tuesday, May 17, 2016

Speaking Volumes Series - A Snapshot of Pearl Lagoon, Nicaragua

Today I'll be doing a little something different, and perhaps it'll be the start of a little series of sorts. Recent posts have been focusing more on photography as opposed to writing, which has been great, but I want something different at the moment. In this instance, with something I'll call "speaking volumes," my aim is to convey the story of a photograph with writing. Essentially, to bring a photo to life with language. 

Pearl Lagoon, Nicaragua (2014)
I often wonder if people in "the Lagoon" still remember who I am, or whether I simply passed through like so many storms. I have a feeling that many would still remember me - walking through the streets, engaging in conversation, laughing, smiling, and sweating profusely.

Many of my days were spent at the local school, with its tattered rooftops and blue and white façade. Classes ran from early in the morning until just past noon, when the classrooms would become more akin to a microwave than a place of learning. However, my memories are usually centred on the warmth of the students, rather than the heat in the classrooms.

Pearl Lagoon was my home for a brief eternity, a month or so packed solid with a lifetime store of memories. The smells and tastes are as vivid to me now as they were then, and the music is just as loud in my head. My host family there put me up in a quaint, decent room that wouldn't be the top place on Expedia, but where you'd never feel more accommodated and cared for. To feel included and considered in a foreign place is all that we can over hope for.

I found my two friends routine and consistency there, despite all odds. But, I suppose that's easier to find in a town of 4000 than most other places. Looking back, I think I was assured that I'd "seen everything," after my first hour of wandering. And yet, upon departure I left with the feeling that there was so much more to see. Sometimes it's nice to remember that towns and cities aren't just a collections of sights to be checked off, photographed, and conquered.

A touch after the sun came up, I too rose, and put on pants and a collared shirt. Truthfully, all I wanted to wear was a bathing suit, but as I began my walk and saw students pouring onto the main road aside me, I was assured that I was wearing the right garb. My students, from grades 9-12, all just called me "Prof," and a "Prof" wears a collar, not a bathing suit. It's an interesting feeling trying to keep your cool in a classroom with dozens of students, when it's dozens of degrees above your comfort level. I might have had a different way to describe it back then, but memories have a way of gaining a fuzzy nostalgic gleam as time passes.

The desks were well used, and the whiteboards were barely there, but I never heard a single complaint. The students were quiet, humble and determined. And they were a joy to teach - all seven of my classes. As a teacher, it was a lesson in what the barebones of teaching really are. I was challenged to bring outdated material alive without google as a crutch, and that's an opportunity I relished. Whether I succeeded, I'm not sure, but I'd like to think I did, perhaps in some small but important way.

Everyday I arrived, and I saw the flags blowing in the wind, and I remembered that, no matter how hot it got, there was always a soft and subtle breeze.