Poly Prep Country Day Nicaragua 2016
March 19, 2016
All of us woke up at about 5 because we were used to New York time. Sebastian, Johnny Walker, and Ivan went down to the beach and they were just in time for the sun rise over the crater lake as it transfigured the color of the sky. They completed the morning with a game of bocce and ping pong. Once everyone was up we had a buffet breakfast including gallo pinto, fresh fruit and pancakes, and then interacted with two cats who we called Amillia and Amillio. After leaving the hostel we picked up our guide Gustavo and toured Managua. We visited many monuments such as the trees of life, and the barrier of new Mangua and old, and a statue of Simón Bolivar riding a horse triumphantly and in the background was the massive Lake Nicaragua. After touring with Gustavo, our guide, we all ate lunch at a small restaurant where we all devoured enchiladas, plantains, rice and beans, and soup. There Gustavo left and we meet Yamileh, a woman who is incredibly influential in her community, and toured the government housing area and saw the dump where people used to live. We then drove to her home and work space where she told us all about her culture and how her, along with other member of the community and how they revived their environment and how they survive financially. After meeting Yamileh she introduced us to her neighbors and friends. We interacted with the kids, Sebastian, Ivan, John, Amari, and Lois played soccer with some of the other local kids. Naleti, created a special bond with them by playing Jenga along with Noa, Chase, Brittny, and Francesca. Chase and Noa played with the kids by popping the bubbles the kids blew. After visiting Yamileh’s home and community we took a 2 hour drive to La Reserva where we enjoyed some fun games like ping pong and enjoyed a delicious meal gallo pinto and plantain chips. From there we had a fun orientation on how the next few days of service work were going to go.
March 20, 2016
Today we ate in breakfast in La Reserva Quelantaro at 7:30am, and soon after, we walked up the road (being greeted by pigs, cows, and chicken along the way) to a local school. We moved many chairs out of the classrooms to be sanded and re-painted, and in doing this there was splatters on our faces, arms and legs. We continued to paint for another hour or so before a small group of us treked to a local store to buy refreshments. This was a great opportunity to practice speaking Spanish and to use our cordobas. We then separated into three groups and visited the homes of the local school children. One group talked with a woman who had 13 pets, mostly roosters, parrots, turkeys. After we returned and finished a good amount painting, we played soccer in a small open space with the kids, and got very dirty in the process. After we were all thoroughly tired we headed back to the reserve to unwind and relax. People napped in the hammocks before enjoying fried beans with bread, fruit and juices dinner.
March 21, 2016
Breakfast was served during its usual time at 7:30 in the morning. After we ate our assortment of eggs, fruits, and tortillas, we ventured to the local school where we finished painting the remaining desks and shelves. We then retired back to the reserve where we were served lunch and were able to rest for a little bit before going back to participate in the “Amazing Race.” This game consisted of three small groups completing an abundance of challenges before racing back to the reserve where one team would be crowned the winner. There were three activities in total that were spread throughout the neighborhood. The first challenge required teams to heave half a bucket of water out of the community well, which was then followed by trekking to the local store and writing down the prices of various foods and drinks. The final challenge was located on the other side of the village where teams learned how to wash clothes using the lavadora and soap. Although this was a demanding activity because of the warm climate, we began to understand the reality that these children are faced with everyday. When all three teams returned to the reserve, we were able to offer the children bits and pieces of our culture as we taught them various card games and how to play ping-pong. This continued for a couple hours until dinner when the kids went back to their homes. All of us were more than exhausted at this point and eventually shuffled off to bed.
March 22, 2016
We had breakfast at 7:30 this morning, today it was crepes filled with sweet cheese and assorted fruits. We then grabbed our bags and headed to the beach for a more relaxed day than usual. We were driven by a man by the name of Nelson in a brightly colored school bus. After spending some time in the beautiful beach boardering the Pacific Ocean and the rather scorching sand, it was finally time to feast. For lunch, we had a wonderful meal (chicken fried rice). Some of us decided to buy souvenirs, they had an array of jewelry, t-shirts, tank tops, and even a machete (which no one bought). After several games of Uno, we boarded the bus and traveled to the school where we worked. There, the teacher presented everything she was able to buy with the money that was donated. It was touching to see how happy these children were at the sight of their new materials. We then traveled back to La Reserva for dinner and to prepare for our goodbye party that would occur later in the day. Once the kids started arriving, the party commenced. We started off with a dance in which a young girl in a festive cropped top and skirt swayed her hips to hips to traditional Nicaraguan music. All of us then got up and read messages of thanks and goodbyes to all of the children. Afterwards, Amaari, Chase, Noa, Naledi and I did a dance (The Bet You Can’t Do It Like Me challenge) for all of the kids. Some of us (Sebastian, John, Ivan, Amaari, Brittny, and I) recited our spanish rienzi poems and Francesca and I performed a song. She played the ukulele, and I accompanied her with my singing. Naledi then did sign language to “Happy” by Pharell. After all of the performances of the night were over, we danced with the children, bid them farewell and headed to bed.
March 23, 2016
After a long and antsy car ride from Managua, we arrived to Peñas Blancas, the community where will we have our homestays. Although we were all tired, the moment we met our homestay families we were all happy. We are all staying right in the same area next door to eachother and the experience is different, but exciting. After a fun dinner our leaders came to check on us and make sure we were adjusting ok. After that we spent our first night at our homestays playing cards and getting to know our hosts.
March 24, 2016
We ate breakfast with our respective homestay families and then we took a short but lively walk to the local school. We worked on painting and improving the school, dabbing paint into all the cracks and crevasses until they were thourougly covered in white. The job proved to be tough, but we made great improvements on our first day of work. We walked back to lunch where we admired the vast landscape. After lunch we walked to our woodworking workshop, where we constructed and wove wall hangings and decorative blocks made with locally sourced walnut seeds. At 5 oclock, just before the sun sank in the mountains, we headed off to our homestays for a scrumtious meal and a restful night.
March 25, 2016
Today we did three major activities. The first was meet as a group about how our experiences at our homestays have been. The greatest sources of happiness come from the relationships we’ve built with our respective homestay families. The secondactivity we did was continue painting the school. First, we removed all furniture inside the classroom. Then, we applied primer to the walls. Next, we applied white paint to the inside walls and parts of the outside walls. The third and final activity was hiking up to the waterfall Arcoiris. The trail was steep, yet filled with beautiful scenes. The forest was covered with shades of green. It vibrated with the songs of insects and birds. Tree roots and waterways danced around our feet. We moved through the forest, pushed forward by swift laughter and the energy of our homestay children,Eliezer, Kevin, and Levi. We stopped at a great rock, which served as protection for soldiers during the Contra War, at the waterfall, and in a groveof gigantic trees. Then we returned to the beginning of the trail. Overall today’s adventures helped us understand the history of Peñas Blancas.
March 26, 2016
We started the day as usual: after a hearty breakfast prepared by our lovely host families, a ten minute walk to the school, where we continued our painting project for the local elementary school. We returned for lunch to a delicious meal and played with the children. After that we set off to ArteSana’s workshop for an engaging and educational jewelry making workshop. We learned about how women in the community help their families financially through the sales of beautiful necklaces, bracelets, and earrings made from recycled paper and local seeds. We returned to our homestays for a quick dinner, then set out to the local cooperative to end our day with a compelling movie.
March 29, 2016