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Westside School Nicaragua 2017


April 16, 2017

The group landed safely to Managua airport. After a short ride to our lagoon hotel, we had a brief orientation and headed bed after a long travel day. Until tomorrow!

April 17, 2017

On Monday morning we woke up to the sound of waves on the shore and a delicious breakfast. For breakfast we had La Nica, consisting of rice, beans, plantains, and eggs. Next we swam out to the dock in the warm water to play a few games. After a nice swim we made our way to the van for an hour car trip to capital city Managua. There we had lunch at a vegetarian restaurant and had tropical smoothies. Afterwards we went to Acahualinca and got a tour of the little neighborhood by Yamileth. She told us about her life working in the Chureca as a child. She showed us the Podcasts for Peace community center. After we got to pick from a variety of handmade bracelets and earrings that helped the children learn how to earn and manage money. Next we had a long car trip to our next hotel, The Bell’s Dream/ El Sueño La Campana. When we arrived we had dinner consisting of chicken/beef, salad, and gallo pinto. We are all excited to move forward in our experience in Nicaragua.

April 18, 2017

This Tuesday morning, we woke up in our beautiful courtyard hotel in San Ramon, Nicaragua. We were again given the option of La Nica, the traditional Nicaraguan breakfast, or pancakes. After enjoying our breakfast in the outdoor hotel restaurant (fully equipped with a mountain view and the sounds of the tropical birds) we split up into two pre-formed groups to meet with two local women’s jewelry making collectives. One group, Artesanias Mujeres del Plomo, made beads out of seeds, while the other group makes similar things with recycled paper. We spent our late morning taking jewelry making workshops, interviewing the members of the collectives (en español), learning about their work, and purchasing the handmade crafts. The ultimate goal of these interviews is to create Facebook pages and small biographies about each individual group, hoping to widen their variety of customers. From here we met up with the other group at our lunch spot. Following the timely consumption of either chicken (pollo), soy patties (soya), or pork (cerdo), we all got ready for our tour of Matagalpa! We met up with out wonderful tour guide, purchased some items at the tour shop, and began our city tour! Our kind tour guide showed us to a public park, through the city’s graveyard, around a small museum, and into a church. Once the tour was over, we went on a quick walk around the town and enjoyed some ice cream along the way. Finally we made our way to dinner (a Salvadoran dish called Pupulsa), and went back to the hotel for a meeting and a good night’s rest.

-Carmen H. and Sophia C.

April 19, 2017

Today on this wonderful Wednesday morning, we started our morning by having a delicious breakfast with the choices of pancakes, the traditional Nicaraguan dish, and huevos rancheros. After our splendid meal, we split up into two different groups of six and seven, to work with women’s groups in the morning. The choices were to learn how to weave yarn or to learn how to create journals out of recycled paper. Both groups worked with the women on the process of making the craft and interviewing the women on their organization and how they would like it to grow. After we worked with the wonderful women, we got time to purchase their products and to say thank you for the exciting experience. We hopped on the bus and everyone met up to have lunch at a scrumptious restaurant called Nelly’s! We had lunch and enjoyed time with each other reflecting on the beautiful experience we had with the women’s groups. Next, we went back back up to the hotel to relax and get ready for our next activity which was…breadmaking! We walked down the hill from the hotel to a community center where we got to make whole wheat bread with chia seeds and carrots. It was really good. After our breadmaking, we hung out with the locals and did lots of dancing together. Plus, we played soccer with some cute kids. We had dinner at the hotel and got ready for a special ceremony with indigenous people that were from San Ramon. We sang and danced barefoot. We then gave our thanks to mother Earth. Overall, we had a super exciting day with the community of San Ramon and we can’t wait for the next day!

– Laylah, Noelle and Lucy

April 20, 2017

Today was a very eventful day here in Nicaragua. In the morning after breakfast, we left the hotel to go visit the cacao factory. Here we toured and were able to see the process of how cacao is turned into delicious chocolate. This process starts with the dried and fermented cacao beans being roasted at 100 degrees celsius for 25 minutes. Next the beans are ground and the shells and the cacao are separated. The cacao is then made into a paste. During this step is when a certain percentage of sugar is added. When the paste is ready, it is put into molds and then into a freezer to harden. This is all done by only two women who make around 600 chocolate bars a day.

Once we left the factory, we enjoyed lunch and then started the long journey to the Mayasa Market. At the market, we were able to purchase souvenirs and practice our spanish skills (which were especially for bargaining!). In this market some of the souvenirs we were able to purchase included handmade bags, bracelets, woodwork, shirts, and more. Concluding our trip at the market, we met with Lucy’s aunt Kelli, and interviewed her about her work in Nicaragua. We then drove to our next hotel in Granada, and ate dinner. Before bed, we took a late night swim and enjoyed one of our last nights together. All in all, today was an exciting that we all enjoyed greatly.

– Meredith L. and Ashley B.