Beaches and Cities and Hostels, Oh My!

Wow! It's crazy to believe that we have been in Nicaragua for one month already! A lot of great things have already happened here: starting to lead our own programs, getting to know the community members, and bonding as a Program Director group. Although living just outside of Managua has been great, we have been fortunate enough to travel to other parts of Nicaragua the past three weekends to see how amazing this country is, no matter where you visit.

Our first trip was a day trip to Gran Pacifica, which is a beach about an hour to the west. This was our first time away from the house, and everyone was pretty excited to see the ocean! The hotel also had a pool to hang out at and the weather was really nice until our day was cut a bit short because of a potential storm (keep in mind that when it rains in Nicaragua, it pours - especially during the rainy season). It was a great time because we were able to go as an entire group and start off our traveling adventures together.

The following weekend, we traveled to Granada and Laguna de Apoyo. Granada is pretty much Nicaragua's tourist central as we met people from other parts of the world. Granada is a quaint city, but yet has a lot of fun things to do. We all went to dinner at a Greek restaurant on Friday night, which was much different than our usual rice, beans, and chicken meals at the house. The next morning, we ate breakfast at a place called Cafe de las Sonrisas (Smiles Cafe), which employs deaf people and teaches customers sign language basics to facilitate interactions. It was great to experience the service and meet these amazing people! Following breakfast, we headed to Laguna de Apoyo, which is a lake in the crater of a volcano. The place was beautiful and the day was spent relaxing by the water, kayaking, and taking in the views.

This past weekend, we headed to Leon stay at a hostel named Surfing Turtle Lodge. We had heard a lot of great things about the lodge from past Program Directors, and wanted to see it for ourselves. The lodge is nestled on an island, and has lots to do such as volleyball, ping-pong, horseback riding, and surfing. It was interesting to be at a place where everyone was speaking English! There were many European travelers making their way through all of Central America on several week trips and a few Americans, Germans and Australians that were volunteering their time to work at the hostel. It's great to see that people from all corners of the earth travel to Nicaragua and experience the country for themselves. This weekend was extremely fun, and probably my favorite of the past three even though I had a great time in each place!

As we look forward to the coming months, we are all excited to travel and see more of Nicaragua! We are already planning our next trip to Surfing Turtle in September to see the turtle hatchings on the beach! Stay tuned for more from Nicaragua!

- Michael