The Serendipity of Travel: Meeting a Nicaraguan Nurse

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.

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 was in charge of 36 Nicaraguan English students during ACCESS camp. Zulema was in charge of all 320 students!
I was in charge of 36 Nicaraguan English students during ACCESS camp. Zulema was in charge of all 320 students!

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 traveled six hours via bus to take care of 320 summer ACCESS campers.
Zulema traveled six hours via bus to take care of 320 summer ACCESS campers.

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.

My "Virginia" team with the American Ambassador to Nicaragua at the ACCESS camp closing ceremony.
My “Virginia” team with the American Ambassador to Nicaragua at the ACCESS camp closing ceremony.

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!

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2 thoughts on “The Serendipity of Travel: Meeting a Nicaraguan Nurse

    1. Thanks, Carla! I appreciate all of the work you put into taking the photos and videos that the kids will treasure forever. I cannot wait to see our dance skit on Youtube 😉

      Like

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