Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Day Seven: Our Last Day

By Kaden, Kris, Gabby & Alisha

        Today our wake up call was at about 7:30 , which is 9:30 in American time. After we all decided on what to wear that day we went to have breakfast which included eggs, cereal, yogurt, toast, fruit, and Gallo pinto (rice and beans). After our delicious breakfast we waited for the magnificent and I mean Magnificent Don Pablo (who is magnificent in case you haven’t heard) to escort us to the Laguna de Apoyo, which was a big volcanic crater filled with water. On our way to the lagoon we picked up Eduardo ( Our tour guide who also happened to be magnificent ). 

        When we got to the Lagoon we swam for a couple of hours It was really cool because there were Kayaks and inner tubes that we used to swim with. There was also a floating dock about 10 feet from the shore (the weak swimmers had to wear life vest in order to get there). It was accually kind of cool knowing that we were swimming on a dormant volcano next to another volcano called Mombacho.

        After we were done swimming it was lunch time. We had lunch at a place called “Mi Viejo Ranchito.” The atmosphere of the Restaurant was pretty welcoming. It had a nice view of Apoyo (the volcanic crater we swam in before lunch. Kris ordered a combo meal that included fish fingers and french fries while I ordered Nica Nachos (Nicaraguan nachos), which were delicious.

        After our delicious meal we went to a market in Masaya. The market was filled with a variety of typical Nicaraguan crafts and clothing. The market in Nicaragua wasn’t like the markets we see  in the US.  The market looked like a giant flee market but the crafts weren’t used yet. We separated up into three different groups, Tr. Kate’s group, Tr. Steve’s group, and Eduardo’s group.  

        We saw so many different types of hand-made crafts that were expensive and it was hard to bargain down the prices, but some people gave us great deals like for example 20 bracelets for $20. Most of the stores had the same things with either the same or different prices. We shopped until 6:00 p.m.  

        After we went to the market it was time for dinner. We had a buffet of Nicaraguan food, like Caballo Bayo, Pork Rinds, Fried Enchiladas, and much more. 

        After we were done our dinner we danced. Tr. Steve taught us a nameless dance. Alisha and Gabby learned the dance and then taught it to others. They also added their own moves to the dance. We enjoyed our last supper in Nicaragua. 

        After we danced we got on the bus and dropped off Eduardo and we were all sad to see him leave. That’s when we headed back to the hotel and had our last debrief. We shared about our experience and shared about how we were feeling at that moment, we all wanted to cry. Some of us just let it out. 

        Before our debrief was over Tr. Kate and Tr. Steve passed back the letters we wrote at our last team building session and we had to write a new one about our experience, how it changed us, and how we were feeling. When we were finished they told us that they were going to mail the new letter we wrote to us in a couple of months and to go to our room and pack. Tr. Kate packed all of Alisha’s clothes in 4 minutes! Most of us were finished up at around midnight and we had to wake up at 3:30 AM. 

Monday, March 25, 2013

Day Six: Our own "Laguna de Apoyo"

By Shanice, Kaiana, Alisha and Hannah

It’s our fifth day here in Nicaragua. We woke up around 6:30am. Once ready, we ate our breakfast at 7:00am. Tr.Kate told us to eat the right amount of food for the day because we would be starting our service project. When our bellies were full, Don Pablo arrived to pick us up. We were on our way to Chacocente.

When we arrived at Chacocente we took a tour around the community. Our guide, David, explained a lot about the cost of the houses, the history of the houses, and the water. For example, the well the community uses cost 50,000 dollars. The inside of the houses were very dark, with cement floors and rooms separated by sewed-together rice sacks. It amazed us how a person could live in such a place and we tried to imagine ourselves living in that house. 

Also, before the community built their own well, people needed to walk ⅔ of a mile to get water from a neighbor.  At one house, we saw a dying chick being neglected by the mother hen. We were so upset at leaving the poor thing.  Also, we saw fruits that some of us have never seen before, like cashew fruit.

Once the tour was over, it was time to get to work on our service project, which was helping to build a basketball court for the Chacocente school. David took us back to the school to show us how to mix cement. First, we needed to shovel six wheelbarrows of crushed rock and sand in a pile. 

Then, we needed to add cement and mix it all together. After mixing, we put it in two separate piles, mixed them together, then made a huge center for water (our own "Laguna de Apoyo").

Once the water was put in place, we mixed that up really well and filled the wheelbarrows with the newly made cement. Then we poured the cement into a wooden frame to make the surface of the new basketball court. It 
was very difficult and a lot of hard work. We didn’t expect to do that much work at first, but working together made the job go faster and easier. It’s amazing that in America we use electronics to make cement, but in Nicaragua, they make it from scratch. It really showed us that the Nicaraguans that we met on this trip are hard workers.

Finally it was lunch time. The lunch was made  by the women from the community. For lunch we had chicken, rice, soda, avocado, beans, salad, watermelon,  and cantaloupe. Some of us were so tired, we couldn’t get up to reach the table where lunch was being served. Either way, it was very delicious.
After lunch, we had a quick fifteen minute break to explore the handmade products that the women from Chacocente had to offer. Their tables included lots of handicrafts, such as braided bracelets, hammocks, necklaces, and much more. 

Time surely passed quickly when our  break was over and we had to return to our exhausting labor of creating cement for the basketball court. When we arrived at our working destination, Tr. Kate and Tr. Steve decided to create a bet, which was to guess the amount of time we would need to finish our last batch of cement for the court.

Many of us said numbers like, 25 minutes, 50 minutes, 45 minutes, and even an hour. In case you’re wondering what the prize featured, it was an additional ice cream treat for dessert. After this bet, we all were in it to win it. Our body parts were dripping with sweat from our head to our toes as the clock ticked. Some of us started developing blisters on our hands and feet from constantly digging with the shovels and staying on our feet for long periods (thank goodness for breaks and especially water). We digged and digged until we felt like we were at our wits end. Then, some people gave their shovel to another student to rest, but some students dug to the end.

Finally we finished our duties and we revealed who the winner was for the bet. It was NICKY! Now it was official, we were finally saying goodbye to Chacocente. Just playing, it wasn’t quite over yet. The Magnificent Don Pablo (our driver) gave us tickets for a raffle to win a surprise that was a hammock made with the finest material. He gave us raffle tickets that either said, “Thank you for coming to Nicaragua”, or “You won!” Our winner was KADEN! 

Now it was really our time to say goodbye to Chacocente. We had a hour long ride to the hotel, which was kind of cool, because we were sweaty spaghettis after working so hard for straight hours. All the Take Flight travelers immediately went directly to the pool for some fun time as soon as we arrived at the hotel.

One hour later, we ate dinner at Pollo Tip Top, which is a Nicaraguan restaurant, but it isn’t your average Nicaraguan dinner/lunch place. The food specialized in American food, like fried chicken, fries, etc. We ordered two huge pieces of chicken, one biscuit, fries, and a drink for each person. The food was so delicious, and no worries if anybody didn’t enjoy it. After dinner, we ate dessert at a gas station, which served great ice cream treats.

Lastly, we went to reflect about our day at the hotel, which was a surprisingly good conversation. We discussed how the families at Project Chacocente had to work for five years to get their houses, and how in order for people to improve their situation, they needed education and training, not just a new house. There were lots of different opinions, but that’s what makes a conversation great, right? Alright see you tomorrow! Until then, Take Flight is always soaring to new heights.

Sunday, March 24, 2013

Day 5: Mombacho and the Canopy Tour

By Luis, Tilly, Kaden, and Nicky

Today us travelers were able to sleep in; eight was our wake up time. We ate breakfast at our hotel once again and awaited the Magnificent Don Pablo. We rode the bus to pick up our tour guide Eduardo and were on our way to Volcan Mombacho.

Once we arrived, we had a little bit of time to use the restroom and prepare ourselves to hike up the volcano. It turned out that we met our truck driver and he took us up the mountain. We sampled some coffee and took some pictures of the beautiful view. When we were finish we got back on the truck and we took another ride up the mountain and arrived at a mini briefing center. We got ready for our walk up and down the hill. It was really fun but we got really tired from walking so much. We stopped at a few places on the trail and took a lot of pictures and sat down and drink some good water.

Eduardo was telling us about the plants and we got to try one called the BegoƱa. Some found it tasty while others spit it out and had the most priceless faces. We also learned about a few other plants, the Pacaya, for example. It is a famous volcano, but the Pacaya plants are used to make items such as baskets. We also learned about Epiphytes, which are basically any plants that grow on top of other plants, to get sunlight. They create neat looking gardens in the sky. We were really walking fast and some of the group was behind so we waited then keep walking. There were some dirt holes in the ground and we put our hand in it and it was really hot in the hole. We got to see the city of Granada and Volcan Masaya in the distance, so cool. We walked up the hills and down. It was really tiring to make it up the hill, and it was so hard because the hill was so steep so we had to sit down on the trail to drink some water. When we got back to the briefing center, while we were waiting for our truck, some of us raced up and down the hill. It was really fun but it really tired us. Finally the truck came and we went to go get lunch. Lunch was really good we all had chicken,rice,salad, plantain and grapefruit juice it was really good.

After lunch we had a half hour to kill so we passed the time by playing games like snaps and shopping at the coffee shop. Then we got harnessed in and learned how to not hurt someone when zipping down at great speeds. When I first left I was reluctant but when I saw the untouched beauty of nature I couldn't stop thinking about the next line. After everyone took the leap of faith on their first zipline we made our way to the next line. Then we came to our first obstacle the tight rope. In a nutshell, the tightrope is a line where we climb up a ladder and walk across or if you were scared like me you could slide across.

Our next destination was the Tarzan Swing (uh oh).The Tarzan Swing involved using a huge rope to cross about 20 feet of land to reach our next stopping point which including sliding down a rope about 50 feet in the air. As one of the staff members was attaching my harness to the rope I promised myself that I wouldn’t scream (which really didn’t work out the way I anticipated). After we said our farewells to the staff members we enjoyed dinner at  El Triangulo (The Triangle). At the restaurant we had a choice between Gallo pinto (rice and beans), chicken ,fried plantains , beef kabobs, cabbage salad and many more options. By the time we were done with dinner we went back to the hotel for a debrief meeting. Then at about 10:00 (12:00 in American time) we went to bed.                

Saturday, March 23, 2013

Take Flight Day Four: Granada and Las Isletas

By: Bella, Lola, Shanice, and Kris

Today, we got to sleep in a little and get up at 7:30 (if you call that sleeping in). We all got up and went down for breakfast. After that the Magnificent Don Pablo picked us up and drove us to Granada over the course of an hour. On the way, we stopped by for our tour guide, Eduardo, to go with us. Eduardo is a friendly person. Then, the Magnificent Don Pablo dropped us off and we boarded four horse drawn carriages (four people per carriage). We stopped five times at churches and old forts to protect the Nicaraguans from pirates long ago, while Eduardo talked about how all of Granada was burnt to the ground by William Walker, who was an American who tried to control the trade route through Nicaragua and eventually became president of Nicaragua. 

After we got off the carriages, Tr. Kate, Tr. Steve, and Eduardo gave us a task: we must interview the random Nicaraguan citizens around the square and ask them these four questions.

  1. What is a typical Nicaraguan food and how is it prepared?
  2. What is your favorite place in Nicaragua and why?
  3. What do you think is the most important holiday in Nicaragua and why is it important?
  4. What is one thing that people from other countries should know about Nicaragua?

It was more difficult than you would expect. Just over half of the group cannot speak Spanish, so it was difficult to communicate through mostly hand signals. Some of their dialect was said very quickly and was hard to understand, while others still refused to be interviewed. After we finished interviewing, we had ten minutes of downtime in the park to roam. Almost everybody shopped for souvenirs, and others just sat and rested. It was extremely difficult to bargain with the vendors (we noticed that they charged a lower initial price for natives than to people who appeared to be American). Lots of people of all ages, though mostly young children, came up to us and asked for money or food many times. We didn’t really know what to do in a situation like that and were overall stressed about the entire situation. We have been presented with this situation quite often. It has been getting easier to say no, to word the response, but it hasn’t really been getting easier at all. You know what to say to make it stop temporarily, but not to solve the problem.

After shopping, we went off to lunch. At lunch, an amazing man named Alan crafted personalized maracas for us. The amazing part was that he carved with lightning fast fingers and exacto knife. He is also the third best carver in Masaya. The restaurant itself was mostly outdoors, with a flourishing garden and beautiful paintings. Lunch was excellent, and we were all looking forward to the boat ride in the afternoon.     

After our tour of Granada, Eduardo took us on a boat tour of a typical lifestyle of the city Granada.The lake we took a tour on was called Lake Nicaragua. Eduardo talked about the heritage of Granada. During the tour we saw traditional houses, restaurants and huge beach house on islands also known as las Isletas. some of the houses were very big and had 2 to 3 sets of the houses which were surrounded by bodies of water, where people can only be transported by boats. The traditional house were on the other hand more historical than the others because the rich get better houses than the poor. the rich have more property than the original houses while the traditional houses have historical value. The coolest part of the tour was seeing spider monkeys! After that we went back on the boat and went to a small island to get these amazing drinks.we all had different types of juices but the main ones people had were coconut water, fanta orange soda, pineapple cocktail, and the best one was strawberry cocktail. The tour was the most fun and “redonckulous”  experience we’ve ever had!

Now the most awesomest part of the day was when we took a picture of our driver Don Pablo and we also made a song for him and he was happy. Now our favorite part, dinner. We all tried quesillo made with a burrito wrap, a type of cheese that tasted like string cheese and fried plantains and all the toppings you wanted on your food.The best part of the whole meal was dessert.The main desert everybody wanted was brownies and  tres leches. After dinner we finally arrived home and had our our meeting we talked about how we were feeling and what was the best part of the trip. Now we’re here. All I can say is that we miss all of you guys and we know y’all feel the same way.BYE!!!

Click here to see the Day Four Slide Show