Nica Travels and Spanish School
05/16/2014 - 05/28/2014
I had read that all of Nicaragua wakes up at 5:00 am. My first morning here proved that tenfold. It was a Saturday just shy of 4:45am and the sounds of a marching band, fireworks and celebratory gunshots competed with the roosters under our window to ensure the visitors from the north were awake.
In our first days in Central American we've found everyone to be generous and full of smiles. Chad and I enrolled in a Spanish school called La Mariposa that is also an eco-hotel, animal rescue, farm and runs a handful of community oriented projects. The school is a gem of a place and we're really enjoying our Spanish classes.
I was fortunate on our first full day to be at the school while most of the students were off on a day trip allowing me to join the school's founder Paulette for a hike with about a dozen of the more than twenty dogs that live here. We reached the top of hill to be rewarded with an amazing view of the Masaya region where I got my the first glimpse of a volcano. Paulette, a social worker from the UK set up La Mariposa about 10 years ago after having spent years traveling here. Hearing about her dedication to creating a businesses committed to socially and environmentally just practices was a perfect transition into this adventure.
We've decided to do a home-stay versus the other boarding options (eco-hotel or cabanas) because we wanted to be exposed to the language and culture of Nicaraguans. And it fit nicely into our Central American budget. Our new Nicaraguan family could not be kinder. Hernaldo, the father is a bounty of knowledge as his family has been in the region for generations. He speaks proudly of his garden and fruit trees with my favorite being the handful of avocado trees that periodically drop its goodies at my feet. His wife Aura Maria has never ending patience with my broken Spanish and delivers up amazing meals from a kitchen that most American's wouldn't recognize. Their granddaughters (one is nearly 2 years-old and the other around 20 years-old) that live with them are charming. The baby, Angelina has finally started to warm up to us, especially Chad affectionately calling him "Chad-ee" and Miracela is at university in Managua studying English. This makes for wonderful conversations when she is there and she helps us learn cool words Nicaraguan kids use like "tuani" that means awesome.
This first week also introduced us to the magical Laguna de Apoyo about 45 minutes south of our town, La Concepcion. Swimming in a lake that some believe has healing powers was just what I needed after a very hectic beginning. The water is warm because the lake is inside the crater of a volcano. Resting with a cold beer and reading while swinging in a hammock is just what what the doctor ordered!
Sunsetting over Volcan Masaya
Last night we had a night hike on the Volcano Masaya. It was the first time I had been near an active volcano and it is stunning. Albeit it a bit noxious. We learned that the community that lives closest to the volano, Panama, must endure chronic health problems and serious infrastructure issues since the gases from the volcano eat through everything, even nails.
I am happy to say that as we round out week two in Nicaragua, I am settling into a groove (Spanish classes in the morning, activities or relaxing in the afternoon), enjoying immensely the abundant wildlife, new friends and I just might be learning to tolerate cold bucket baths!