April 2, 2016

Just Lather, That's All

Gateway 2016 School2School HANDS Team:

This morning something very, very special happened - we got to sleep in until 7:00! Breakfast wasn't until 7:30. And now, a word about the food. There are three very solid square meals every day that we get here. Students have found breakfast to be the most unique. We often have toast, fresh juice and cereal. Sometimes we have pancakes or eggs. Occasionally we have gallo pinto (Nicaragua's national dish of rice and beans). Lunch is usually rice, beans, chicken and some kind of vegetable, and supper is usually rice, beans, chicken and some kind of vegetable. The team will tell you, however, that they still like chicken! It's cooked in so many ways! And it's well seasoned. And we're hungry!

So, we woke up late, ate pancakes (the Dutch kind if you know what I mean) and boarded the bus for our team cultural day. This is the first day where we're on our own as a team, and we are doing truly touristy things. We drove a half an hour south of the city to a working potter's house. Currently the shop and store front are owned and operated by a woman and her sons. They also have a few people working for them. We were given a great demonstration of the spinning and forming of vases and urns, saw where the pottery was fired, and then got to do some shopping!

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After loading our carefully packaged pottery purchases into the bus, we went further down the highway to the nearest volcano - Mombacho! At the foot of the mountain is a little jewel of a tourist attraction, the Mombacho Zip Line Adventure. The group was a little bit nervous and a lot excited. We geared up, which was fairly quick, and mostly consisted of finding a helmet that fit Mr. Kooman's head. Thankfully the only reason one wears helmets are not for the zip-lining itself, but to protect oneself inside the truck as we rattled our way to the top of the course. Our guides (four guys who didn't share their names) were funny, fast and efficient. They moved us from platform to platform quickly and safely. Everyone participated, everyone enjoyed the experience. Beautiful birds flitted around us, and a family of howler monkeys were too hot to hoot, thankfully, they were just hanging in the shade of an enormous tree.

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Historically, on the cultural day, we spend time touring Lake Nicaragua. This year we did that on our field trip with Bautista Libertad students, so we had some time to explore the beautiful town of Granada. We did some learning about the main cities in Nicaragua, and Granada was the first settlement the Spanish created after bringing boats from the Atlantic up the river into Lake Nicaragua. It was the cultural, economic and political hub of the colony for hundreds of years. In the 1900s Granada was the capital for the Conservative element in the country, with Leon being the Liberal capital. It's colonial appearance is still in tact, especially because the old buildings were not damaged in the 1972 earthquake. A beautiful church stands in the main city square, and a vibrant market surrounds it. Many tourists flock to Granada to explore, shop or just simply have a coffee in the town square.

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Students had a healthy chicken lunch in the air-conditioned comfort of Tip Top (39 degrees in Granada!) and then had time to wander around the main square. Like we should at all times, students were instructed to keep their eye on the church as a landmark, never wandering too far outside of its shadow as they spent a few dollars and perused the stalls. American dollars are preferred in Nicaragua. Fresh, new bills are the preferred kind, but the official currency the Cordoba is also accepted of course. Right now the exchange is 28 to 1 (American Dollar).

Lesther and Peter took us through Granada's old market, where the stalls are tight, the alleys narrow, and the food less touristy and more authentic. What an experience. Peter, Lesther, Chris and Mauricio stopped for a haircut. A straight shave and a haircut for 50 cordobas each. Just under $4. What a deal!


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There was even a little bit of time when the haircuts went longer than expected, to explore Granada's beautiful cathedral. Inside are many icons and symbols of the Catholic Faith. The building is vast, with apses, chapels and narthex's to explore. Birds fluttered around, parishioners were in prayer, a Sunday School (Saturday School?) class was taking place, and beggars asked for alms at all of the doors. A lot going on.



After a hot day, it was time for some refreshment at the over-airconditioned Pizza Hut in Managua. It was Bailey's 18th birthday today, and it was fun to celebrate with her. The ladies even bought here a cake, and the Pizza Hut staff sang a nice little ditty for her.

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Karla-Maria Ponce
Apr 6, 2016 at 11:01 am

Happy Birthday to Bailey! I hope she had a great time celebrating her special day in Managua!

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