Nicaragua - Day 5 - Leon / Nagarote / Piano

Today was another (shockingly) hot day. I can't believe how much water I'm drinking, and yet, I know that I'm dehydrated, because my classic symptom of scratchy voice is with me.

So I'm typing this in my hotel bed surrounded by throat spray, honey and tea. I've just gargled salt water, am getting ready for a hot shower and plan to be in bed by 9. I'm hoping all of that will do the trick! This isn't the first time I've had to recover from hoarseness, so I'm getting pretty good at it.

Anyway - throat discomfort aside, today was another fantastic day.

We're working with two different choirs that will join into one massive group starting on Friday. I'm really excited to see how that's going to turn out! We have a great list of songs to sing, I have the honor of singing, Nicaragua, Nicaraguita, (it's a beautiful love song to this country...and you guessed right - folks will be singing along!) and rehearsing with all these singers has been fantastic.

One of the groups we've been working with is from our Norwalk Sister City Project - and the teenagers there are really talented! 

With the teenagers from Norwalk/Nagarote Sister City Project after our morning rehearsal.

With the teenagers from Norwalk/Nagarote Sister City Project after our morning rehearsal.

Our days have been starting early - 5:30 a.m. kind of early (those of you who know me...know this is not my favorite time of day...)

Why are we getting up so early? 

Because it's the only way to move around outside and function when it's not so hot. Crazy, but true.

So - by 10:30, we had already rehearsed with two choirs on opposite ends of the town. 

During my break time the last few days (this is when the children at the day program at NicaPhoto come for tutoring, lunch, and activities) I've been goofing around with the kids on the new piano that they had donated a few weeks ago.

It's been really cool showing them different songs, I feel comfortable sitting at the keys sharing music with them, and it's a way for us to connect in smaller groups.

What I've been struggling with is knowing what these kids go home to after they leave choir practice.

I was invited to their neighborhood yesterday to get to know it a little bit, and it's hard for me to know that these kids live here and I'm not 'doing anything' for them.

I know that making music, creating moments, and sharing an experience are all of value. It's important as human beings to see one another.

I am just struggling with this for now.

So - like I always have, and hope I always do - I'll use it.

I'll use this pit in my stomach to fuel me to work harder. Bear witness. Write better songs. Share stories. Raise awareness. Raise money.

Now, because I'm in the midst of it, it feels really hard to do.

Nearly impossible.

But I know that when I have a chance to really process this experience, I'll be so motivated to continue supporting these organizations and these kids.

These kids are in great hands. They have amazing teachers, are fed healthy and delicious food, have their own garden, are taught activities like taekwondo, are given college scholarships, and now - at least for these weeks - have music lessons.

So you can bet that we'll be using that new piano as much as possible for the next few days!

In a moment of joy today - I discovered this sign right next to the kitchen garbage...

Compost for the garden!

Compost for the garden!

These kids are learning to compost.

They're smart, they're talented, and they're kind.

They don't need my pity.

They need opportunities. And that's exactly what they're receiving from these awesome organizations.

So that's my job - create musical opportunities.

I'm so glad to be here.