OFF TO NICARAGUA!

 

So, as you are reading this, I am on my way to Central Nicaragua with 11 of my co-workers from all across the U.S. to build a pedestrian suspension bridge for charity. As I have mentioned before, I am an environmental scientist. I am not a bridge engineer or construction manager. To be completely honest, I have no idea why they picked me for the team out of hundreds of applicants, but I’d imagine that mistake will be realized soon enough.

Just tell me where to swing my hammer! This is a similar bridge project in Honduras.

As excited as I am about this trip, the preparations for it have not come without their challenges. I was picked as the Logistics Coordinator of our team (#dreamjob) and that has come with a lot more responsibility than I could possibly have anticipated, including a ton of after-hours work on plans (yes, I have a full binder I’m bringing with me that includes my 35-page logistics plan), answering a ton of questions, large and small, and being responsible for knowing every detail of every person’s travel plans, packing arrangements, and more. I think on its own, that would be ok. I really love planning for trips and I love travel logistics. But there are a lot of unknowns and this type of travel is well outside my comfort zone. Don’t get me wrong – I love being pushed out of my comfort zone. But when I’m responsible for 11 other people who are also being pushed outside their comfort zones and are relying on me for answers, it can be a little stressful. My primary concerns, which are admittedly generally unimportant, include:

  • Turning into one giant mosquito bite and scratching myself until my skin all comes off and I am eaten alive by ants
  • Never getting a decent night’s sleep because it is hot and humid, we will be camping outside for two weeks, and I am a huge baby about being hot when I sleep
  • Crashing the rental car on a jungle road
  • Someone asking me a question that I did not prepare for/do not have the answer to
  • All of my clothes being soaked through with sweat and never ever ever drying and me getting gangrene as a result, although I’m fairly certain that is not how gangrene is obtained
  • People laughing at my terrible Spanish accent (I can theoretically speak and understand Spanish pretty well but the accent…oh, it’s bad)
My mosquito repellent supplies, not including the permithren I soaked ALL of my clothes and my tent in. #deetfordays #wipesforweeks

Things I am mostly unconcerned about which I probably should be concerned about:

  • Zika – I am mostly just concerned with being really itchy. And I figure if I avoid that, I will avoid Zika. But people keep asking me if I’m worried about it.
  • What I will eat – As logistics coordinator, I am in charge of buying all the groceries. Looks like everyone is going gluten free for two weeks!
  • How dirty and smelly I will be – I’m embracing it #noshowers
  • How to build a bridge – I assume someone will tell me, right? I’m perfectly capable with tools, but I’m no engineer, so I hope they planned accordingly.
  • How to put up my tent. Hopefully someone will help.
AJ absolutely did this for me. I did not help. Upon reflection, that was a mistake.

I also will have NO internet access or electricity whatsoever while I’m gone (hello, Nicaraguan jungle), so that has caused a bit of anxiety as well. Not because I need to check Facebook, but because it means that 100% of my freelance and blog work needed to be done ahead of time, which was definitely a challenge. It’s all done, though, so you’ll have some posts from me while I’m gone! To be honest, I’m looking forward to the break on some level. It’s not a great time to be on social media right now – let’s be honest.

I think on top of all that, like many people in the America this week, I’ve just been very sad and disturbed about the senseless murder and violence we’ve experienced. For better or for worse, I am not a very emotional person about stuff like this for the most part, and I can often shrug pretty much any bad news off (I’m not saying that’s a good thing at all, it’s just the reality of how I am), but this week has really shaken me. Maybe it’s because it is all coming so soon after the attacks in Orlando, Istanbul, Bangladesh, and more, but it’s just too much. I hate waking up and checking my phone and holding my breath as I wait to find out what horrible thing happened the night before.

With those recent events in mind, the concept of this post seemed to be petty and unnecessary. I debated not writing it at all and just saying “I’m going to Nicaragua, see you in a few weeks,” because saying any more felt silly. But that’s not how I run my blog. We thrive on the petty and unnecessary here, do we not? I mean, that is the entire basis of T-Rex Rantz, after all.

But the real reason I’m posting this – and why I don’t usually mention current events on my blog and typically gloss over holidays and other things – is because I want this blog to be an escape for both you and me. Sometimes, the world is too sad and scary and it’s hard to face, and at that moment, I just want a distraction. The first time I really realized that was 9/11. I was 15 back then, and one of my friends found out during our English class that his uncle had died in the towers. When I got home, every single tv channel was playing the news – even the ones that don’t normally broadcast it – which of course, made sense. But eventually, I couldn’t watch any more people jump out of buildings or watch the numbers of first responders killed go up any higher. It was too much. As I flipped through the channels, I felt hopeless – until I found the Disney Channel. It was the only one not playing the news.  I watched it for hours until I finally fell asleep, so grateful for the brief respite. So I think of my blog a little bit like the Disney Channel. Sure, there’s not as much choreographed singing and dancing, there’s 100% less hair gel, and we do talk about tough topics sometimes, but it’s also a place to go where you don’t necessarily have to think about whatever else is troubling you that day. Instead, you get to worry about whatever is troubling me that day – the gift that keeps on giving!

So with that, I will be gone from July 9-23. There will be no Nicaragua pictures, posts, or updates once we get to our site on July 10, so try to survive until July 23. I do have several posts set up for while I’m gone – things I’ve been thinking about a lot and would love your thoughts on. If you need me, I’ll be praying for my country and for a mosquito-free bubble to descend over Central Nicaragua.

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