Heart and Humanity: The Other Side of Fuego Y Agua

"One Heart." The little miracle.

“One Heart.” The little miracle.

Being last has its privileges. Being last provides you with even more drive to do better next time. Being last enables you to witness your surroundings just a wee bit more. Being last allows you to capture that memorable footage of your journey on camera and then introduce that action as the very reason for why you were last. Pretty clever wouldn’t you say? No shame here. I was last.
I practice Buddhism. Not devoutly like my wife. Not always consistently, but I try. For whatever reason, I find myself on the fence with any organized religion. But I try. I do see the benefits usually when least expected.
Before I left for Nicaragua, my wife asked me to be sure to keep prayer in my heart during my run. She reminded me to thank the Guardians of the Law for my protection on the volcano.
Our theme for this year’s Buddhist practice is”One Heart”. (As in one heart for the entire world.) Imagine my surprise when I checked into The Charco Verde Hotel on Ometepe and walked to my room to find on the floor right in front of my door, a beam of light cast by the sun through a parade of bushes in the shape of a heart. (Image) Just smaller than my fist, there it was in plain sight waiting for me. I stood silently dumbfounded but not the least bit surprised. I acted fast to take a picture of it because if I didn’t, it would disappear with the movement of the sun. How wonderfully odd, the timing of this was. A minute longer at the reception desk, or a stop in the restroom, or a slight traffic slowdown and I would have missed it. That is how delicate the timing was.
It’s a remarkable thing that Josue and Paula Stephens do on behalf of the people of Ometepe and Nicaragua in general. When we think of Fuego Y Agua our first thought is the race. We think of the worldly talent of runners and athletes who have gathered on this cryptic island to compete. We think of the warm sun and the tropical breezes, the cool water and an ice cold Toña, swaying peacefully on a hammock and the stunning presence of Concepcion and Maderas.
But the real beauty of this experience was the people; many of whom were the poorest, most destitute that I’d ever been in the presence of. What an endearing thing it is to reach out for humanity.
Shame on me for anything I might complain about. Shame on me for often thinking how tough I believe things are. Who am I kidding? I shall now more so count my blessings. I shall always try to bite my tongue should I catch myself boohooing about irrelevance. I shall always have the aspect of “One Heart”.
There is more though to the perceived sadness of the surrounding poverty – happiness. With each shanty was a happy home. With each home was a mom outdoors making what little she had presentable by sweeping with a homemade makeshift broom. A boy kicked a cup (not a ball). A trio of little-un’s took turns filling an empty soda bottle with dirt (not holding a Gameboy) as a piglet sauntered by. A couple stood in Lake Nicaragua laboring with what little clothing they had to wash. (No Maytag here.) And all of it somehow protected by a shield of happiness. A life as simple as the word simple could possibly be. These folks are survivors. To feel bad for them would be an insult to their culture but to assist with a used pair of footwear would be treasured. This is humanity and this is the other side of Fuego Y Agua. I can’t wait to go back.

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15 Responses to “Heart and Humanity: The Other Side of Fuego Y Agua”

  1. Reblogged this on Rewired and Retired in Nicaragua and commented:
    One Heart: Paul captured the essence of Ometepe Island. Beautiful!

  2. Though some visitors may be blind to the beauties of this Island, this man clearly is not; a lovely story about a lovely people and place.

  3. Mary Jordan Says:

    Thank you for sharing this magnificent perspective….

  4. Steven Bailey Says:

    Paul,
    Heard about your adventure through the Pfizer Andover Weekly Bulletin. I go to Nicaragua in the summers to work in the barrios near Managua with Mission of Hope ( http://www.ncmissionofhope.org/ ), and have experienced the same impressions you had – poor but happy people. Nice to read your posts, and thank you for taking me back to Nicaragua, and taking me back to a time when I could run!
    Steve

  5. Beautifully said. The sunlit shaped heart is an image that will stick with me.

  6. Paul, your talent of writing is clear once again…bringing a very clear picture of what you saw, but most importantly what you felt.

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  9. Good post. I learn something totally new and challenging on blogs I stumbleupon every day.
    It’s always helpful to read through content from other authors and practice a little something from other web sites.

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