Serendipity means a “fortunate happenstance” or “pleasant surprise.” In my travels, I have come across many pleasant surprises. I love the serendipitous moments that lead me to meeting new people abroad.
Even if serendipity is nothing more than chance, it has led me to meeting many fascinating Nicaraguans during my travels in this special Central American country.
One of the Nicaraguans I will never forget is Zulema, nurse who works each year at ACCESS camp, a weeklong, intensive English summer camp for Nicaraguan students. Read more about the camp on the Maywesuggest.org blog, a site by two Peace Corps Volunteers and my blogging buddies.
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Having fun at the @accesscampnicaragua shoe #relayrace! Campers leave shoes in a pile, then run and put them on, then run back! #accesscamp #Peacecorps #peacecorpsnicaragua #tefl #english #camp #youth #youthdevelopment #games #fun #kids #summercamp #nicaragua #centralamerica
Each group of campers was given a state name in order to create team spirit. I was the camp counselor for 36 high schoolers in the “Virginia” Team. I would go to bed at midnight and wake up at 5 AM in order to make sure my campers were awake. You can imagine how much coffee I needed to stay awake!
I went into the supply room for a quick afternoon coffee break, and I overheard Zulema encouraging a student who wasn’t feeling well to feel better. She is a nurse in charge of 320 kids at ACCESS Camp, a weeklong camp for Nicaragua’s best English students. “Sometimes, you have to pump yourself up even when you’re feeling tired. It’s all about your attitude. Sometimes I see teenagers feeling sad about the slightest thing, but then I tell them that they need to take advantage of the opportunities that they have and make the most of them. It’s important to work hard and to accept any challenge that comes your way.”
Zulema is a nurse from Nueva Segovia, which is the farthest department in the North. It borders Honduras. It takes her six hours on a bus to get to Managua, and the bus only makes one stop. “How did you end up working here in Managua?” I asked her. “Well, I would always go to my daughter’s ACCESS meetings dressed in white because I’m a nurse. One day, one of the ACCESS supervisors noticed this and asked me to work at the camp. This is my third camp so far!”
I didn’t expect to meet such a radiant, optimistic mother as I drank coffee from my styrofoam cup, but I’m grateful it happened.
Zulema is the Nicaraguan nurse I’ll always remember. I love the serendipitous moments that come with travel.
Is there someone memorable you’ve met by chance in your travels? Share in the comments!
This story is featured in the 2016 issue of Wanderlust Life Magazine. Subscribe here for this free wellness magazine!