(Author: Stephanie Mork) Busses revving, horns honking, dogs barking, horses on the cobblestone, people yelling to get your attention, smells wafting of cooking foods and rotten tomatoes alike. This is my first experience in Mercado Mayoreo in Managua. A colorful place with sights and smells and sounds that are new and exciting, a bit overwhelming and that get my adrenaline pumping.
As a Comamos Juntos volunteer, it couldn’t be easier for someone who a) doesn’t speak Spanish fluently or b) has no idea where they are going. I am guided to where I need to meet the rest of the team and when the whole group has arrived, we go to the Comamos Juntos “home base”. We walk past heaping piles of tomatoes, lettuce, and potatoes. We walk past people loading and unloading trucks and through alley ways with people lounging in hammocks and keeping watch over their produce. We walk past trash in the gutters and through the smoke from cooking meat.
My senses are overtaken with an overwhelming amount of new information and questions. What is that smell? What is that vegetable? How does the produce get from the farms to their tables? What kind of people buy their produce here? Many of my questions remain unanswered and left for pondering, but many are also answered by the Comamos Juntos veterans with patience.
I am handed a bright green crate and some gloves and follow fellow volunteers around the market, talking with vendors, picking up their surplus produce and separating the produce we want to keep from the not so good produce. We wind our way back to the home base, crates full, to have the produce weighed and recorded and then grab another empty crate and do it again. At the end of the morning, the satisfaction of seeing so many crates full of good produce to be distributed is what I know I came here for.
I have been welcomed to the Comamos Juntos family with ease, and seeing the mix of foreign volunteers and Nicaraguan volunteers has been the most incredible thing. Life in the market is a completely different experience for each person, as a Comamos Juntos volunteer - I see possibility for growth, I see relationships developing and I see people living a daily life that is unfamiliar but exhilarating to me.