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  • Soccer Without Borders

Day One.

It's 9:12 AM on Saturday, 27 June. Day one. I'm thinking it's probably inadvisable to start a blog post within the first couple days of a yearlong move to a new country, but I'm doing it anyway (cause why not...?).

Osmara, my fellow team leader, and I arrived at Tres Pisos sometime after 1AM last night. I forget exactly what time it was, but it was late enough for both of us to be feeling an all-encompassing exhaustion today, that's for sure. The 45 minute drive from Managua to Granada was a total blur– a mix of rotaries and straightaways under the dim light of the orange moon off my right shoulder. Thankfully, we weren't completely aimless or lost in our travels; we were greeted at the airport by the smiling faces of Fútbol Sin Frontera's local co-directors Veronica and César, and they joined us on our journey // were privy to our first few minutes experiencing life in their native country.

When we arrived at Tres Pisos, I shakily exited our taxi and proceeded to drop pretty much everything I own. Veronica kindly picked up my purse, but my filtered water bottle and red gatorade had already taken the plunge into a nice little pile of mud. I was a bit spooked, or maybe just kind of zombie-like at that hour? I don't know. I guess the most salient thing that I learned from the trip down here is that I'd like to avoid traveling to new places in the middle of the night at all costs (I thought I had avoided this until my flight se retrasó for three hours). We entered our new home and headed upstairs to a long, brightly colored hallway. It's much longer than I imagined, and it houses each of our individual rooms and bathrooms. I picked the room at the end of the hallway farthest from the stairway before having a mild panic attack (no tears were shed!), taking everything back and moving to the second room down the hall closer to the front of the building. I tested the super deluxe, high velocity air circulator (read: fan) before solidifying the big move, and it worked beautifully. I saw a little gecko scurry up the wall as I passed by. And best of all, I found not one, but TWO Marta bobbleheads on the shelf across from my bed. That's got to be some kind of good luck?!

I slept for approximately three hours. Maybe a little bit less? So not at all. Birds chirping, doors rattling from gusts of wind outside, cats meowing, dogs barking, miscellaneous animals making miscellaneous noises, roosters doing their thing... it's pretty hard to describe all of the noises that I'm hearing. They're much more manageable now that it's daytime, though, and they have been since I woke up this morning around 6:30AM.

I've never been to Central America, and my nervous Spanish (or any language, for that matter) often turns into silence when I'm faced with new and unfamiliar social situations, but I'm trying. I'm trying to refrain from being so melodramatic. I'm trying to be more confident in myself and in the circumstances that led me here. I'm mostly trying to take deep breaths– even if I smell a lil sweaty and I normally drench myself in euca– and keep things simple. Because I know at the end of the day that my work here encompasses so many of the things that I'm really passionate about. I want to play for change, I want to help girls overcome obstacles and break cycles, and I want to use the universal language of football and experience coaching exclusively in Spanish for the first time (although the prospect terrifies me if I'm being totally honest). I'm a Lopez and I strongly identify with my family's history and the stories I've been told by my Gruncle // the videos he's been gracious enough to share with me, but I wasn't raised in a Spanish-speaking household despite the fact that I am often asked if I was. The intricacies of my identity confuse me, and as an American working for an NGO in Granada, Nicaragua it's only going to get more confusing from here. But at this exact moment, I'm just trying to be present– as open and honest with myself (and others when applicable, or maybe in a few days) as I possibly can be. I know that I'm going to embarrass myself a million times over. I know that I'll be forced to laugh at my mistakes while simultaneously attempting to grow my confidence. I know that the girls and my coworkers will teach me more than I could ever possibly imagine. And I know above all that I'm eager to learn, grow, teach, inspire and make a difference collaborating in a sincere and authentic way with the people I have the incredible opportunity of working with here. PS: We almost just locked ourselves outside on the second floor patio. Yup. Day one.

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