Monday, September 24, 2012

Al Final...

This is my last post for a long time. I have long since said goodbye to Nicaragua. I'll pick up my blog when I get back there in the spring.

If you've lived somewhere else, then you know this, so you can share in the truth.

If you haven't then I'll have you know, although I've said goodbye to Nicaragua, I could never forget it. It stays with you. And so when I find a quiet moment to myself, I remember Nicaragua.

I can only hope all my visits to different places will be like this was.

Things I've learned:
It's difficult to take risks in a different country. But there's a choice between passive and active learning. And I didn't take much risk in Nicaragua because I was reminded every day that I was an outsider, and that made me uncomfortable, no one else. Therefore on my own accord I took the passive learning route.

Things to consider: The active learning route. haha

Feel free to check out all of my other posts. I have a lot to say about everything I've experienced there. Although my experiences may be repeats to some, I tell it like it's the first time.


Tuesday, August 28, 2012

El Vuelo

So the flight back was an experience I'll never forget. I still remember the 5a.m. car ride from the house to the airport like it was yesterday.

 I remember being nervous for leaving, like I was leaving everything I knew. ..And in a way I was.

 I knew life had continued without me in the United States, and that I would be an extra there now, not the protagonist, if not for a little while.

So we sat in the airport, looking around at all the people with rolled up hammocks and hiking gear. Typical I-need-to-bring-this-back syndrome. I had bought a hammock too, or two, haha. I felt lucky that Greydy and I could travel together one last time. We had the same flight to Miami. The nerves built in me as breathed them out slowly.

It wasn't so bad really. Greydy and I arrived in Miami sin problema, had lunch together, I walked with her to her gate, and we said our goodbyes.

The Second Flight

Then came the second flight. Now I'm not so crazy about flying to begin with, but this pilot instilled a fear  in me that has not left me to this day. Everything started out fine, but about a half hour before landing, there was about a 50 foot drop in the plane. The nose of the plane was down and the end was up. I turned to the frequent traveler next to me and asked her if it was normal.

She looked at her watch/she frowned/she looked at the scene around us. I looked around and everyone else seemed nervous and confused too.

She told me in gentle words (after seeing my death grip on the plane armchair) that it was not normal, but it could be an early landing start. But that girl was a godsend, because then she started asking me every question she could think of to take my mind off of the plane. So we talked for what seemed like forever, but probably came closer to five or ten minutes, until the plane straightened out again. We all sighed.

Saturday, August 25, 2012

Semana Santa 2012 - Parte 3

On Saturday, once we were back in Managua, we raced back to the house, dropped our things, showered and set out again. This time we were headed to the vacation spot - San Juan del Sur. We had no idea how to get there so we walked back to the bus station and asked around.

The Trip
There were two stops. Taxi to Huembes, Managua; bus to Rivas; second bus to San Juan del Sur
 (The map to the left shows where in Nicaragua, and the map to the right shows the trip).

We left the house around 1:00pm and finally arrived to San Juan around 6:00pm.

San Juan del Sur

 Once we arrived, we headed straight for the beach. It's a touristy town, so we saw a lot of extranjeros like ourselves. Our friends told us that a lot of people had stayed all week and left the day before.

We stayed the night in a hotel across the street from our friends' place. They had stayed the whole week, but we joined them for the rest of the weekend.

We went to Playa Maderas the next day. It's a beach where a lot of tourists surf, so the waves were too strong to swim. But they had beds on the beach to relax on, so I took full advantage of that opportunity.

We returned to Managua about 9pm Sunday night: 8 people in one camioneta (pickup truck) for the two hour drive (we weren't the only ones catching a ride back to Managua haha).

The week was amazing. I am very lucky to have experienced it with such great people.

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Semana Santa 2012 - Parte 2

So for the rest of the week, we traveled and traveled.. and traveled. After we returned from Ometepe on Wednesday we waited a day at the house, just long enough for us to relax the two nights in our beds. Then we set out again on Friday morning.

It was la Semana Santa (the Holy Week) after all, so we thought we might see a religious celebration. For this we traveled to Leon.

We checked into a hostel on Friday night and set out in search of the religious celebrations. It was strange because the city seemed so deserted, especially for an area with religious celebrations during Holy Week.

We asked the man running the hostel about this and he told us that everyone generally goes on vacation to the beach during Holy Week. He also told us about the religious processions being held in Leon that night.  

It took us a while to find the processions, but we found them. There were times where we followed the procession and where we jumped ahead of it to see it pass. I tell you, it was much easier to walk in front of it than behind it, on account of all of the people.

 One of our friends had told us he wanted to see the alfombras (carpets) of sawdust they had there. I wasn't sure what they were, or what they would be like, but once we got there it all made sense.

The alfombras are literally translated as "carpets". They are made by layering different colors of dyed sawdust in order to create a religious scene.

The alfombras line the streets, and as the night goes on, a religious procession passes over them.

 Soon after dusk, the seemingly deserted city had turned into a crowded city full of people buying and selling food, finishing alfombras, participating in the procession, and watching the procession.  

Also, the procession was surprisingly quiet in spite of all of the people that were there. There was a somber atmosphere among the crowd. There was also a band that played slow sad music as the procession led on.

After seeing the procession we walked around for a bit, and then made our way back to the hostel for the night.


 The Next Morning's Travels


 The best part about the next morning, Saturday morning, was the morning market in Leon. Near the bus station to Managua we were able to see all different types of products for sale.

After finding our way through the markets to the bus station, we boarded the express to Managua and took it home. But we still had more plans for the week...

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Semana Santa 2012 - Parte 1

Hace mucho tiempo.
I haven't posted in a long time, nor have I told you all about my and Greydy's travels during the Semana Santa (Holy Week) in Nicaragua.
During Semana Santa, I traveled a LOT.

To begin la Semana Santa, I volunteered with Techo Para Mi Pais (a roof for my country), an international organization that helps build starter homes for people without the means to otherwise build the homes.

It was a weekend long construction, so at night we stayed at elementary schools in the area. I only stayed one night because the second night, we were evacuated from the public schools because the Department of Health said there was an epidemic of bugs in the schools and they needed to fumigate.

They started to fumigate when one of the groups was still in the school. Instead of staying with the group over night at another private school where all of the volunteers were moved to, I just went home. They said it was a very abnormal occurrence. Luckily, despite the low numbers of people in our groups and the fumigation setbacks, we were able to finish the houses.

On Monday, when they were finishing up the houses, I left to spend three days on la Isla de Ometepe (Ometepe Island) in the middle of Lake Nicaragua.
The part of the island that is active is Volcan Concepcion to the right, ever-so accurately represented by the cloud rising from it. Y ese dia, I vowed to be the ultimate tourist that I had never allowed myself to be the entire time I was in Nicaragua. So, complete with leopard-print luggage, sunglasses, sunscreen, and skinny jeans, we headed over on the gorgeous three floor ferry to the hour ride to the island.

 On the way over, the view of V. Concepcion was absolutely amazing. And I had a family help me take my touristy pictures, and I helped them with theirs too.

When we finally arrived, we were on our way to the resort. Everything seems so far away on the island, it was practically impossible to travel without a vehicle.

That day, we were able to relax for the evening. In the resort Charco Verde. The place was gorgeous.

The food was different there than in Managua, they had less comida tipica and more touristy food. Also there was a boat nearby where a man resided. He let Greydy take a picture of him. 

The next day was tour day. Cynthia had hired us a tour guide to show us around. He was funny and entertaining. He showed us some of the churches on the island and a nature center with samples of all the plants that grow on the island.

After the nature tour and lunch in another touristy town, we headed to Ojo de Agua to spend the afternoon there. It's a mineral spring. Our tour guide said that you go in and you come out 20 years younger. I thought this might be problematic because I am 20 years old, but I kept my worries to myself. 

 All in all, we had a really good time. We did a lot of relaxing and waiting for meals. There wasn't much to do at the resort because it was more for family and couples, of which we were neither. So for a bunch of 20 year olds, all we could do was relax and tell stories.
Nos vemos!

Monday, April 16, 2012

La Sombra Ecolodge - Matagalpa

In el norte (the north) of Nicaragua, there are montanas and the climate is generally cooler than in Managua where I've been living. We were able to travel to Matagalpa, one of the ciudades del norte, to examine the beauty and biodiversity they have there.
On the way there we stopped at a small shop to  have guirila, which consists of a cheese made in that area, a sweet tortilla, and crema (creme) wrapped in a banana leaf.

We stayed the night at La Sombra Ecolodge en Tuma de Dalia, Matagalpa.

This was the view from the room on the second floor when we arrived. 

The lodge had a beautiful pool/pond/fountain out front(which I'm sitting at). They also had animals roaming free on the grounds.

We hiked two senderos (trails) they have on their grounds. The first lasted an hour and a half, and the second lasted about an hour.
 I was able to see all of the biodiversidad (biodiversity) the land had to offer after living in the city for so long.

 At night, a chicharra entered the common room where we were staying. The chicharra makes a loud sound that is startling to hear. I was able to get a video of the sound.  
After the walk, we were able to see the mariposario (butterfly room) that they have on the grounds.

The guide told me that they are constantly looking for new species of mariposas (butterflies) and that they have already found 98 species of mariposa on the grounds. He said that each mariposa has a specific leaf that they eat, therefore they have the mariposas with their respective plants in the mariposario. He said that the only exception to this is the banana leaf, which has 5 mariposas that thrive off of it. 
I found this mariposa the most striking the image of its mimicry is so vivid.
 On the grounds they have frambuesa (raspberry) bushes, where we were able to pick our own frambuesas and eat them. In the same area they also grow cafe (coffee). Those are the cafe plants in the photo on the right.

This is una rama (tree frog) that we were able to see on the grounds. They live on the grounds in a netted shelter that is open during the day to let the bugs in. When we arrived, the ramas were sleeping under the large leaves.
This experience was one of the greatest I've had in Nicaragua. It felt so great to be back out in nature again after living in the city for so long. 
Nos vemos! 

Monday, April 9, 2012

Volcan Masaya

On sabado, March 31, I went with my geology class to visit Volcan Masaya, located in Masaya, Nicaragua. Being the "Land of lakes and volcanoes", Nicaragua has about fifteen main volcanoes (volcanes). It lies on a fault line between two tectonic plates.
This is the museum's depiction of the plates on top of which Nicaragua is located.
This was me before our nature walk at the national park. 

Our class got together for a group photo before the walk. 
We observed the type of lava called Aa Lava. The sign said this particular lava is called Aa Lava because people can't walk on it without it hurting. 
The guide also gave us information on the different species of trees they have surrounding the volcan. This particular species is called Indio Desnudo (Naked Indian) as a common name and Bursera simaruba as a scientific name.
 They also showed us a source where vapor escapes from the ground. We could smell the sulfur and feel the warmth.
 After our hike, we drove up to the top of the volcan where we were able to see all of the sulfuric smoke. My friend Camila and I raced to the top. Our lungs started to burn from all of the sulfur.
 This is me at the top of the touristy lookout. I have my arm wrapped around a cross that is located at the top. They say that it protects against the demons that come out of the volcan.
This is the view from the bottom of the touristy lookout.  

I had a good time visiting the volcan.  The university exchange program actually brought us back there the very next day, so I was able to see it twice in one weekend. On Sunday there was a lot more smoke than sabado. So much so that my eyes burned from the sulfur when we arrived there.

It was my first time seeing a volcan before. There are so many here, I felt like my experience would not be complete without seeing at least one.
Nos vemos!