This morning, we went horseback riding on the beach. It was my first time horseback riding (even though I'm from Kentucky) and it was an amazing experience. I felt a little unstable at first, but I like to think I got the hang of it after a while.
We also drove back to Managua since we're staying in a hotel across the street from the airport tonight. We got to go on a bit of a driving tour of the city and see the historical buildings in the downtown area. While we were driving, we stopped at a market and got to look around and pick out souvenirs to take home. Basically, I got all my Christmas shopping done.
I can't believe we're already going back to Houston tomorrow. It seems like just yesterday I was packing and heading to the airport. I've had the time of my life down here, and I cannot wait to start fundraising for the trip next year!!
We were given options on what we wanted to do today, and I chose to go back to the worksite since I didn't get a lot done Monday with not feeling well. We spent half the day on the site, and it was so much fun. I worked on scraping and sanding a brick wall for pretty much the entire time and I had a blast. Two of my best friends from the trip were working on the same thing, so we all got to sit together and scrape cement off bricks.
After working in the morning, we went to another resort in San Juan del Sur for Thanksgiving dinner. It was so nice to be able to celebrate as a team and a great way to begin wrapping up our trip.
Today we were out working, but my half of the group was out at the rural site instead of the build site for the school. We got to help a local neighborhood with building eco-stoves and water filtration systems. It was so humbling to see the conditions in which people live in this part of the world. We shared some of our food with them, and gave a lot of food and water to the dogs they had. The dogs were so thin you could clearly see each one of their ribs. It was really sad to see, since I have four healthy and happy dogs back home.
I enjoyed working on the rural site a lot. One thing we got to do was collect water from the local well to use for mixing cement. There were hundreds and hundreds of butterflies down by the well and it was absolutely gorgeous. Then when we were working, some horses and a cow just wandered by. The people at the site were laughing at how entertained we were and how everyone in our group immediately pulled out their cameras to take pictures.
My friend Dreana became good friends with one of the little girls who lived there. Her name was Vilma and she's precious. We taught her how to take pictures with our phones, and she got so excited! She was such a fast learner too. I think she got the hang of the iPhone faster than I did.
Today, we drove up to Playa Gigante. It was absolutely gorgeous on the beach, and we got there about half an hour early, so they let us explore for a bit. There were some rock formations we could climb on and all kinds of crabs running around. A huge wave came up and soaked my friend Brittany, but none of the rest of us got wet.
After running around on the beach, we climbed a really steep hill to a local restaurant where we got to hear from another charity in the area: Project Woo. They are helping with the development of San Juan del Sure and helping the tourist culture merge with the local culture. They also developed a health center in the area, so we got to go take a tour of that after lunch. It was really interesting to see how it compared to hospitals and doctors' offices back in the States.
Today we got to spend the whole day working at the build site for the school, which is what I had been looking forward to the most. I started off smashing rocks, which was SO much harder than it looked. Basically they had these heavy metal poles that you lift above your head and then slam down into the rocks. But they're really difficult to aim, so mine kept going into the dirt and the construction guys laughed at me. I eventually got a quarter of it broken up and out of the ground before I had to stop and get water.
Welding was both exciting and terrifying. The big mask they put on you makes everything dark, like night vision, and then the sparks make the area where you're welding light up really bright. It was also a lot harder than I expected. Plus, some of the sparks landed on my arm, which I wasn't expecting so it startled me a bit.
Today was kind of hard because I wasn't feeling that well. I did as much as I could, but I had to take breaks sometimes to rest or take pictures and get water so I didn't get any sicker. I got a lot of cool pictures and video footage, so I'm planning on making a video of us at the worksite once I get home.
Today was so much fun. We got to go visit another charity in the area called the Barrio Planta Project. It's like a community center for kids to come to and learn English and socialize with other kids. We played a couple games with the kids, and they we broke into teams for a scavenger hunt around town. This one kid Dylan in our group colored Osric's entire face green because we were the green team. It was beautiful. The kids who were in our group were super helpful to have in the scavenger hunt because they knew their way around town much better than the rest of us. We went all over the place looking for so many random things...it really was like a mini GISHWHES. I loved being able to interact with the kids and speak to them in bits of Spanish and English.
When we got back from the scavenger hunt, Misha was there and we got to take a group picture with him and all of the kids. The video people for Random Acts also let me shadow them so I got to watch them do the interview with Osric and Misha, which was really awesome.
I got an awesome Barrio Planta Project tank top for $20 to help support the charity. It's really comfortable and I can't wait to wear it once it warms up back in Cincy.
The worksite is going to be so much fun, I can already tell. Today we met with Austin, the lead builder on the project. He gave us folders with the blueprints for the school, so we know what it's going to look like when it's all done. There are going to be so many jobs for us to do on Monday. We can bend metal, smash rocks, paint, and so much more. They are even going to let us try welding, which will be an adventure.
Going to the technical school was more fun than I thought it would be. They have a lot of different engineering programs, and we got to talk to some of the students about what they learn and how they like school. It helped us become more familiar with the education system here, which will definitely be beneficial for the week and understanding why the school we're building is so important.
Wow, I forgot how much I love this country. It's so beautiful here. After we landed, it took forever to get through customs, exchange money, and find our bus. This week we're using the school bus Random Acts bought for the school we're working on. When we finally got everyone together and got our luggage loaded onto the bus, we still had a 3 hour bus ride from Managua to San Juan del Sur. Luckily, I met my long lost twin, Abi, so we just slept against each other for most of the way. She's so awesome and I'm excited to share a villa with her all week. When we got to the villas, they had a welcome party set up for us by the pool. It is GORGEOUS. Tomorrow we have to be up early to go see the worksite and another technical school. We aren't doing any work, but we're getting familiar with the project and what we'll be doing on Monday. We also get to meet some students at the technical school and learn what education is like here in Nicaragua.
HOUSTON, I HAVE MADE IT. It's pretty warm here, which is super nice. I met five of the people I'll be going to Nicaragua with: Rea, Nicole, Deidre, Brittany and MK. They're all so nice and welcoming, even though I'm the youngest one here so far. We're spending the day here getting to know each other. Osric Chau and the other volunteers should be getting in later tonight and tomorrow all of us will be back in the airport to head to Nicaragua. I'm even more excited now that I've met other people. Some of them were on the Random Acts Haiti trips a couple years ago, so they actually have an idea of what we're going to be doing.