Clara Hayes’ nephews, Memo and Ronal

By Clara Hayes,  2012 delegate to San Pedro

Upon returning from Ometepe, I perused the Internet for the first time in two weeks and immediately happened upon a quote that I feel defines my experience on Ometepe. By artist and storyteller Brian Andreas, it goes like this: “Most people don’t know there are angels whose only job is to make sure you don’t get too comfortable and fall asleep and miss your life.” For me, Ometepe was that angel.

decorating gravesite

I worked with my host family to decorate the grave of my host brother, who died in a car accident about three months before our trip.

Now, let’s look at where I was coming from for all of this to make sense. Junior year of high school is easily the most stressful: homework overload, activities galore, all while trying to maintain your own identity because it seems as if colleges would like you to fit in a small box. Feeling like a mentally sane human being who at the same time appreciates and lives life truly, and deeply, to the fullest every day seems impossible. I mean, I’ve seen it happen, but it had to be only on the surface, right? No one is really like that. So, this year, I grew “comfortable,”, and in a way, fell asleep while living.

family group picture

Me and my host family

Then, I went to Ometepe. The simple act of just “going to Ometepe” is not what I see as my angel; it’s the experience I had there, and how I reflect and apply what I learned to my life, now. If there are any people in the world who live in the moment, my family and friends of Ometepe are among them. From my family, I learned the importance, and reality, of relationships with other people. When it comes down to the last wire, all you really have are the people who love you.

hiker and mountain

The look of accomplishment shows—we’d just climbed Maderas!

Each night was not occupied by being plastered to a cellphone, but with actual conversation, face to face. I can’t begin to count how many hours upon hours I spent simply sitting in the kitchen with my host family, laughing, conversing, really, truly getting to know one another.

The relationships I created are the most valuable thing I could have obtained there. Now, I am so incredibly pumped for everything life has to offer. Because, if I can manage to meet such amazing people during those two weeks, I can only imagine all of the great relationships I will build for the rest of my life! I also wonder how my current relationships will grow, and there are probably some pretty amazing people right before my eyes every day that I’ve been missing!

Although my heart still aches to once again experience their presence, and laugh one more time with my host family on Ometepe, I now know how to stay awake and never again miss my life here with my family on Bainbridge Island.

girl in car

Driving away from San Pedro, the hardest part of the trip