Last year's trip to Nicaragua was incredible and the bar was set pretty high for this year's return. In planning this year's trip, we took into account the relationships we built with the community we served last year and attempted to recreate a similar experience for the attendees this year. Visiting a new part of Nicaragua presented us with beautiful scenery and a very different ecosystem. Some of life's simple pleasures we take for granted were put into perspective. We never set out to "save the world" with this trip but we hoped to have everyone open their eyes and hearts to communities that are different from ours. This life-changing trip created lasting bonds and helped us find gratitude in our many blessings. Read our travel blog below for more details of our trip.
After a delayed flight, we finally made it to Nicaragua. We checked into our hotel, had an icebreaker, played a few games, and then had orientation with our leaders, Michelle and Stephanie.
A delicious dinner was prepared for us at La Casa de Los Mejia Godoy and Juan Solorzano played some authentic Nicaraguan music. He even had a guest musician, Vincent, who dropped a few notes on the guitar. That was a pleasant surprise.
We returned back to our hotel and had evening reflections before lights out.
We started with breakfast at our hotel. Afterwards, we visited a community center called Podcasts for Peace (you can find them at http://www.podcastsforpeace.org/). Last year, we collected funds to help them purchase costumes the dancers wore today. We heard from the seamstress, Marlene Rivera and other volunteers like Jon Alex Martinez (from Colombia), Vanessa, and Zashira (both from Mt. Holyoke College in Massachusetts). They volunteer their time with the kids in the community center.
We drove through a community close to an old landfill. Some of the residents of that community make their living by rummaging through the landfill to find items that are recyclable to sell. It was very humbling.
Then we returned to our hotel for lunch. Afterwards, we took a 5-hour drive north to Peñas Blancas, our service community. We will spend the next few days here. The group was welcome by the residents and then had dinner before debrief.
Today was our first day of service. One group leveled the ground to prepare the foundation for a new home. The other group dug trenches for a composting toilet system.
We then ate lunch before we chose our afternoon excursion. Part of the group hiked a waterfall and the others stayed back to attend a jewelry making workshop.
Dinner was delicious. After dinner, we played a group game. Then we finished with separate reflections and more games.
Today was another great day. We began with breakfast. Both teams continued their service projects and the group that worked on the house finished their part. Although the house is not complete, what was expected for our visit is. Tomorrow is our final day working on the composting toilet system.
After we completed the service part of our day, we gave everyone a choice to take a hike to a watering hole or attend a woodworking workshop. Both were awesome.
We ended the evening with dinner, reflections, and a game of Mafia.
Today was our final day of service in Peñas Blancas. We began our day with breakfast and then headed to the work site to finish the composting toilet system. We were given an overview of how the system works and then...the royal flush! I don't believe anyone will ever look at a toilet the same.
We ate lunch and then chose either a coffee farm tour or a bread making workshop. These two opportunities were incredible.
After dinner, we said "good bye" to all of the incredible people that were so hospitable to us for the last few days. We played a few games, reflected, and then packed up to prepare for our early morning departure tomorrow. We will spend the last 2 days in Laguna de Apoyo.
After breakfast this morning, we packed up and made the trek from Peñas Blancas to Laguna de Apoyo. On the way, we stopped for lunch at Las Jicaritas in Masaya. Then, a short drive led us to La Posada La Abuela in Laguna de Apoyo. This is where we will be staying for the next 2 nights. We took time for a refreshing swim in a volcanic crater lake. It was so much fun. We ate dinner and had reflections before it was "lights out".
This week has not been easy and has had its share of hard work, illness, and pests but now it's time for us to have a little fun.
Today was our last full day in Nicaragua. We will be going home tomorrow.
After breakfast this morning, we hiked Volcán Mombacho and then had lunch at the Garden Cafe. Afterwards, we visited the active Volcán Masaya. This was the first time many folks saw an active volcano.
We then visited Masaya Market to purchase some souvenirs. We finished our day with dinner and Verbenas in Masaya.
Our evening closed with some moving final reflections and we are refreshed and prepared to come back home.
We had our final breakfast and packed up to head back home. We are still trying to take everything in from the week. This was a very impactful trip and we are grateful for the opportunity to learn from the culture of Nicaragua.
We would like to take this time to thank all of our supporters for their help in making this trip impactful. Parents, chaperones, donors, friends, and the people of Nicaragua helped to make this a life-changing experience. A special thanks to Global Works Travel for being our travel partner. We truly appreciate all of you.