And the adventure home...separating our group into two...but due to weather, reuniting us in the Spokane airport one last time. Yay! Viva Nicaragua!
27 June 2016
And the roadside bro-tank purchase purchase to remember those that were left behind...and to laugh over tanks and card games one last night!
While exploring the old city center, we got to see revitalization in action and area being redesigned for the people. Our guide took us along the water, to pizza (where there were cooling misters to keep us cool) around the pier and to the mall to watch Finding Dory in Spanish!
We got to leave our rooms and see more of Managua...the controversial side of Managua where art and electricity are not a priority...unless you are the First Lady of Nicaragua.
Managua-extra day 2...our first foods!
25 June 2016
El Nido is a beach home used by Pinita's family and has been in their family for the last 50 yrs. it is very simple but is literally steps from the beach.
Casa San Juan - the last stop in Managua before returning home. (My apologies for not posting pictures from the last night...but you all know that I was near death...)
Gracias Pinita for the hospitality and the yummy food! You were an inspiration as a person for change and as the Julia Child of Nicaragua!
Sand sculptures along the beach - Go Dragons!
Thanks for taking the lead Taylor and making us as look as artistic as you!
Hanging out at El Nido
24 June 2016
Sunset at the beach
Silly beach fun and a game of beach soccer
Due to the currents and tides, we weren't able to do any swimming at the beach...and as you can see from the size of the waves, most wouldn't have tried anyways. We did have 2 amazing lifeguards with us at all times at the beach anyways just in case. They mostly just enjoyed watching us make fools of ourselves trying to jump or run from the waves.
The back patio...just about 50 ft from the beach.
El Nido - Poneloya, Nicaragua
We arrived in Poneloya around lunchtime and were greeted by a wonderful woman named Pinita. After eating some of the best home cooked food ever, we were treated to a course in tortilla making. It was amazing to see everyone partake in and even better to watch them indulge in the food afterwards.
23 June 2016
We explored Granada for a while and saw much of the town square, did some last moments of shopping. Then we visited Lake Nicaragua-the largest lake in the Western Hemisphere-and learned that it was a way to access the western United States during the gold rush before the Panama Canal was available. It also has sharks...so we didn't swim there. Just observed from the shores. :-)
Cafe Las Sonrisas - hammock shop and cafe in Granada run by deaf and mute people. We learned a lot from the owner who came from Spain about how his life path changed from being a chef to caring and developing a program to provide a way of living for an often forgotten portion of the population. It was heart warming to see and observe and while there I was able to meet up with a former student who had moved to Nicaragua to work with the deaf population. The world came full circle. Many a bag and hammock were purchased by all.
Cafe Las Flores - Coffee plantation visit
We went to the largest/most-well known coffee plantation in Nicaragua call Cafe Las Flores. We saw the process for how the coffee is grown and how water is used from beginning to end. It was beautiful and delicious!
22 June 2016
ANOTHER PIECE I FORGOT TO MENTION....kids have zero access to technology. But I promise if anything of importance comes up, they or I will be in contact.
We went into Masaya to their market and many shopped for trinkets and memorabilia. Some of the students found that they have a knack for bartering. Then we continued on to a restaurant nearby for a soda and tostones (twice smashed and fried plantain chips) with fried cheese, meatballs or beans on top. Yummy! We paused for a few pictures and admired the semi-active volcano. It glows by night and emits gasses throughout the day.
Swimming and relaxing along the shores of Laguna Apoyo. This is a warm crater lake-it had some salt and mineral contents making it a fun place to relax and swim for many hours. We paused only to have lunch of course. Fun times for all...and perhaps a few sunburns developed.
Day 6 began with a breakfast of pancakes, fruit and juice and coffee
21 June 2016
There is only one road in to the community that is fit for busses, and unfortunately when it rains, it becomes nearly impossible to drive out...at around 3:30 we got stuck on the road and then were "rescued" in shifts of pick-up truck loads by local Me to We employees. Some returned by 4:30, others around 5:30 and the final group (Cassey, Andrew, Noah and Pavan-1 of our leaders) arrived at 7:30...such a long day!! The final group was invited to rest in the cover of a local family's home which was greatly appreciated. Then we drove a longer route out that was much bumpier and windier, but despite the set-back, we all had a wonderful day! There were never any complaints by anyone!!! It was just another opportunity to visit and see more of the countryside. What great kids!!!
The women of the village invited us to a nearby home and talked to us about how they had been taught to make jewelry in order to provide for their families. Then they sold us some jewelry just in time as the rains started to roll in...
Then we finished...almost everything. We ran out of cement...and didn't have time to paint the other tires white... but we did so much and worked incredibly hard!!!
Pause for sandwich lunch with veggies, juice boxes and cookies before returning to work
We worked so hard!
Group 1-mixed cement and filled cement blocks for the retaking wall at the bottom of the hill.
Group 2-install more tire seats
Group 3-road widening
Group 4-fill more tires with dirt and then (re)paint the tires.
We were sad to go and wave goodbye, but were happy to have played together for a while.
Then we all posed together for a group shot before heading down the hill to work some more...
And we played some more...such fun! We got to slide, swing, play catch, and just have fun. It was so fun and so rewarding.
We played with the children! Many played tag (landa) and lots jumped rope...
School visit at El Trapiche
The students had to make a presentation to the school children and thank them for the warm welcome and opportunity. The drafted it together, Millie worked with the señoras to iron out the rough spots, and Alana read it to the students. It was great. The students and teachers in turn thanked and introduced themselves to us. Then...
20 June 2016
Dinner! Gallo pinto, chicken and fresh tomato salsa...and Andrew are it all in one big bite!
La Catrina - photo op at a beautiful vista overlooking Laguna Apoyo and Mombocho Volcano.
The kids became the artists...some more than others. Alana got bruises more than anything as her wheel was too short and legs were too long.
More of the pottery process.
Pottery workshop in San Juan del Oriente - we were shown the ancient Nahuatl technique of pottery making. It has been passed down by 10 generations in our instructor Valentin's family alone. It is being taught in this community as a way to preserve the past, and provide income, education and positive options for the future. One piece takes 16 days to complete and all ancient techniques are maintained from beginning to end.
We stopped in Masatepe this morning and did a simulated market visit for students to have to buy food for their family for 1 meal and the only had 14 cordobas to spend (the equivalent to about .50 cents). The kids had to use their Spanish and barter if possible. Some chose very practical ingredients like rice, beans, onion, and tomato and some added variety with a plantain or pepper...one group splurged on a papaya and lost half their funds. It was a great learning activity, unfortunately the market was too crowded for pictures.
19 June 2016
We had the opportunity to swim tonight and there was a great game of "Marco Polo" and many also played "Mad Gab" and indulged in Nicaraguan snacks found by señora in the local grocery store.
¡Feliz Día de Padres! Sorry we missed you all today on Father's Day, but you were all in thoughts and we are thankful for our fathers!
After a lunch of sandwiches, fresh veggies, cookies and juice, we finished weeding. Then we had the pleasure of meeting Maria Victoria, a local mother who shared with us her story of hard-work, parenting, and the benefits that have come to her family as a result of the Me to We presence in the community. What a great day!
Look at those workers!
This is the progression of our day...notice the progress! And how dirty we were by the end!
From creepy crawly things to lunch...what fun!?!
Task 1 - weeding
Clear the weeds from the tires, 3 ft to the left and a diagonal line to the right. After 4 hrs of weeding, sweating, and mandatory water breaks every 15 min, we nearly finished the hillside! The goal is to add more tires at the bottom of this picture to continue the walkway and further stabilize the hillside that leads to the water tank at the top of the hill. Hard workers were found in everyone on the hill!!! Woohoo!!
Work site day 2 - 4 group tasks
1. Finish weeding
2. Install tire seats at the top of the hill-beautiful view looking down on the valley
3. Install tires at the bottom of the hillside
4. Carve earth from the hillside using pick axes - shovel dirt into buckets for fill dirt with the wall of tires
The "bandana gang" getting ready for the first day of volunteering in El Trapiche.
Day 2 - breakfast consisted of scrambled eggs, gallo pinto (red beans and rice-national dish), papaya, pineapple, toast, coffee and juice...and cereal too. Yum!
18 June 2016
We finished day 1 with a mean game of spoons
Breakfast (of pancakes and fruit) was followed by team building activities and lots of silly discussion in the afternoon before heading to the community of El Trapiche.
Team building and debriefing after a long, but fun day.
The school in El Trapiche - a view of two buildings constructed with the help of Me to We and off to the side is their school garden which is used for school meals and snacks. Often mothers go to the school to cook meals for the kids. Secondary school (7th -12th) is only offered only on Saturdays as the children at that point are helping to provide income to their families. Before this school was built, kids walked on average 1 1/2 hrs each way to one community for school - also down a canyon which was susceptible to flash floods...the other community with a school is about 4km away with land that also becomes marshy with dirty water. So this school has been embraced with open arms to say the least.
Our yummy lunch of gallo pinto, tomato salad, tortillas and plantain slices/chips