Saturday, January 16, 2010

Day 8

Today was an extraordinary day! Starting out with a drive on the too-small-of-a-bus bus from Jinotepe to Masaya, we continued our journey across Nicaragua.

In Masaya, we traveled up the Masaya volcano. We got to look down into the crater as well as walk up two different trails. The first trail brought us up to a higher view of the crater that was spewing sulfuric acid. While on our dangerous trek up the trail, we encountered some workers with gas masks. The second trail was braved by those feeling well. It took us up some steep rocky trails to the top of the highest hill in the area where we could see beautiful scenery for miles in every direction. It was quite the workout in the heat of the day, but it was well worth the view.

After leaving the park, we traveled to a local eatery where we... you guessed it ... had chicken and rice. After lunch we had a bit of free time to explore local markets and buy presents for our dear loved ones at home. :) (Sorry if you don't get anything...we speak for ourselves. hah.)

Upon arriving in Granada, we spent some time walking around the park outside of our luxurious hotel. There were many vendors with all sorts of "deals" for the white folk. Soon after, we boarded the hot bus to go to Monkey Island. The boat trip began as a relaxing, scenic tour of various homes on their own islands. Some of the homes were rather large and colorful. It was an unforgettable experience which turned into horror for some. We then encountered Monkey Island where our three boats tried feeding them cashews. One monkey, which we named Mandy on one boat and Lucy on another, hopped aboard for some excitement to say the least. Many of us were thrilled and laughing, while others did not have fun. Regardless, it was a once in a lifetime experience had by all.

We then went out for our final dinner together. For the past few days we have been fantasizing about the foods we are going to eat as soon as we get back which include pizza and oreos for the majority of us. (Note to parents: please make our favorite food that does not include rice, beans, chicken, or eggs.....for the next month). Come to find out, we got 15 thick crust, delicious, large pizzas...with normal toppings!!!! WOOOHOOO! That was exactly what everyone needed. After singing Happy Birthday to Brooke (our fearless leader) in terrible Spanish, we had a few sentimental words and concluded our evening by watching Boom polish off an entire pizza. Of course we could not finish 15 pizzas, so we distributed the leftovers to the locals in need in the park.

All in all, it was a glorious day. Although we are ready to come home for some TLC, we are sad to leave this amazingly interesting country.

Adios from Nicaragua!!! It is time for bed. We have a long day of travel ahead of us!

Boom, Guns, Diva and crew (Tim, Cassie, Brenna and crew)

Friday, January 15, 2010

Day 7

Hola fellow blog readers!

Today was another beautiful Nicaraguan day. We woke up to our final delicious breakfast overlooking the wonders of the ocean in San Juan. Then we hopped on a bus and traveled roughly one and a half hours to Jinotepe. The city of Jinotepe is much like our previous destination Managua, but not quite as large. Upon arriving in Jinotepe we checked into our hotel and ventured off road to a local community church. At the local church we were fortunate enough to meet Doug and Julie who are the founders of the Global Orphan Fund (also known as the GO Fund). With the help of Doug, Julie, and another local missionary family we had the pleasure of serving local children lunch from a typical Nicaraguan home. This was a very interesting experience for many of us because not only did we meet many children who come from unfortunate living situations where this meal may have been their only meal of the day (and most definitely their only meal with meat), but we also met the children of the missionary family who at the ages of 5 and 7 were communicating bilingually (which is much more than most of can literally say for ourselves).

After visiting with the local children we ventured back into town where Doug and Julie showed us their newly developed transition homes which offered young adult men and women (around the ages of 18) the opportunity to live in a middle class house as well as pursue their dreams through a quality education.

After our exploration of Jinotepe we headed back to our hotel for a couple hours of rest before our final game against the Nicaraguan National Team. The game took place at a local gym built about 3 years ago and it was definitely the nicest gym we have played in so far and we had a decent crowd including the ladies from the transition home who witnessed their very first volleyball game; but yet again we fell to the Nicaraguans 1 to 3.

After wrapping up at the gym around 9 p.m. we traveled back to our hotel where our chicken, rice, and vegetable dinner awaited us. Then most of us headed off to bed eager for our big day of hiking a volcano tomorrow.

Signing off yours truly Amy Bomgren and Lindsey Smith

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Day 6

Hola familia y amigos!

We started this morning with a nice beach workout lead by the seniors. This workout included an exciting relay race in which we had to build sand castles (Matt's team were the victors for their creative "iguana" sand castle. Whatever. We're still bitter). After that, we enjoyed breakfast and got ready, we headed up to a place called the Earthship. This building was super interesting because it was almost all recycled material and was an off-the-grid house. The walls were made from tires packed with sand, concrete, glass and plastic bottles. Also while enjoying the view of such an interesting house, we had four different stations interacting with some kids of the community. One station was playing futbol (soccer), another face painting, beading, and finally teaching the children english. This stop was interesting and very rewarding because we got to see an amazing self-sustainable house and also entertain the kids of the community.

After our busy morning, we took a wonderful ride down to a private beach were we spent the afternoon soaking up the sun and surfing! For most, surfing was a first and was an experience to remember. Even though we're not pros yet, we still enjoyed learning how to catch a wave. In midst of all this fun, while Kim was coming down from a wave, she got stung by a sting ray. Yes, a sting ray. We found out from our tour guide Brooke that sting rays tend to come towards shallow water when the wind is blowing and the water is cold. So lucky Kim got the brunt of it today and was whisked off to the clinic. But not to worry, zyrtec and a little rest helped bring our coach back!

To top off the evening, we had a superb dinner at El Timon, where we were entertained by local musicians and dancers. After finishing dinner (and joining in on the dancing) we migrated to another local restaurant which was hosting an open mic night. Some were brave and took to the mic (Brenna and Serena) and the rest of the team danced the night away with many of the locals.

Tomorrow, we leave beautiful San Juan del Sur to one of our final destinations and also, to play (and win!) our final game against the Nicaraguan team. The memories, experiences, and breathtaking sights we will never forget, but we're excited to see what else Nicaragua has in store for us!

Buenos Noches (or good night for those who are Spanishly challenged),

Steph and Serena

Day 5

Hello U.S., it’s Blair, Sarah, and Emily N. Today was yet another beautiful day in Nicaragua. It’s still a bit windy, but the sun was still out so no one complained. This morning it was optional for any one to go help a group of Spanish-speaking men learn English. There were twelve eager Blugolds that jumped at the opportunity. At about 8:30 this morning, we were introduced to six Nicaraguan waiters that worked across the street at a local restaurant. We asked them simple questions that they had to respond to in English. After Serena had broken the ice by cracking a few jokes, the men (ages 20- 32) started to open up.

At about ten this morning, we donated more of our donations - bags full of baseball bats, baseballs, and equipment - to a foundation that teaches kids at local schools the basics of the sport.

After we were done, we had free time till about 6:15. We were allowed to venture out and eat and shop. Many people attempted to sunbathe on the beach, but failed miserably by constant sand blowing in everyone’s face.

At about 6:15 we all met up again and piled into the back of 3 pick up trucks and went to the complex where we would be playing the Nicaraguan team again. When we got there music was blaring and there was a bunch of people watching the men’s Nicaraguan team. After their game was over we warmed up and listened to the Nicaraguan national song. And then our very own Brenna Schleif beautifully sang the Star Spangled Banner. It was amazing!!!

The game started off very slowly, we were losing 10-0 but we fought hard and almost won. Second game was mucho bien! We won by leaps and bounds, the 3rd game went in our favor as well but unfortunately we lost the 4th and 5th. However the 5th game was very close with a score of 19 -17.

After the game we went to dinner at Josephine’s and had beef and fish. It was delicioso!

Hasta luego!

Wednesday, January 13, 2010


Tuesday: Cassie & Emily coloring with the kids at the pre-school we visited.

Tuesday: The team and the "estudiantes de preescolar" (preschool students).

Tuesday: Matt and Tim lead the girls through their morning workout on the beach.

Sunday: After our final match in Managua with the Nica national team.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Day 4


Today was an eventful day. It began at 7:00 AM with a wake up call from Jason (Kim's husband). We had a work out on the beach led by Jodi's husband Matt. We did some football drills along with running along the beach and in and out of the water. The only downfall of running on the beach is the winds are 50 mph and the sand is blowing in your eyes haha. After our workout we washed up, had breakfast, and sorted our donations.

We took our donations to various destinations in the morning starting with Casa de Mujeres (the women's shelter). The shelter was built to help to give women their own voices and to provide a safe haven for them during any problems they may encounter. This shelter is a non-profit organization for women and children and is supported mainly by donations such as ours. They are able to give women and children what they need to make it through. Also a womens soccer team was founded through this program and there are about 21 players ages 8-adult. The soccer balls that we donated will greatly help them practice and give them a sense of unity. After we visited the Casa de Mujeres we went to a pre-school for children ages 4-6. It was soooo fun to play and color with all of the little kids and show them what we had donated. It was helpful to have our spanish speakers (Sarah, Sadie, Rachel, and Serena) to help communicate with the kids. While some stayed at the pre-school to play with the kids, others went to the public school for children ages 6-15. Seeing this school was definitely an eye-opening experience. The school has two classrooms for over 50 kids and only two teachers. The government does not give any money to the public schools except for the teacher wages and the materials they have are horrible. The teachers were excited when they saw a small globe in one of our donation bags and it really made us think: while we are learning about the world through google earth, these kids are learning through a hand me down globe that is smaller than each of our hands. None of the kids were at the public school because this time to them is what would be like our summer break. After the school we went to Galleria del Sur and donated art supplies to keep their art classes going since funds have recently been cut. They teach art classes to women and children and greatly appreciated what we brought.

After all of our donation stops, we went to lunch and then had about an hour of free time. Some people went shopping, some napped, and some went and hung out on the beach. Unfortunately during this time we had our first casualty... Rachel got stung in the foot by a sting ray. Fortunately she is OK and in good spirits and is happy that she can now say that she was stung by a sting ray. Unfortunately Rachel did not get to participate in our afternoon activity of teaching kids how to play volleyball again, however she did get to sit in her room and watch TV while Jason brought her ice cream (how nice).

After we taught kids how to play volleyball at the same clinic we were at yesterday we went out to an spectacular dinner. We had a choice between fish and chicken and it was amazing!! We ate on their porch and had a beach view at night, it was beautiful. After dinner most went and got ice cream again (not losing any calories here!).

Tomorrow we begin our day at 10 delivering more donations and enjoying the warm weather! Hope everyone is surviving the Wisconsin/Minnesota winter! Love you and miss all of you!

Dani, Jenny, and Sadie

Monday, January 11, 2010

Day 3

Hello all,

Today was quite eventful! We woke up a little earlier than planned due to extremely strong winds... seriously, strong winds. Most of us walked across the street to enjoy the beautiful beach scenery. We spent a half an hour in the waves before breakfast.

Around 10 we left for the much anticipated zip lining adventure. Many of us had fun riding in the back of the safari-style truck that was sent to fetch us. After a bumpy ride and some (near) off-roading we arrived safely at our destination where we were greeted by a lovely little rottweiler puppy. The friendly guides strapped us up and we took off for the top of the mountain. It was a bumpy ride but when we got to the top the view was breathtaking. You couldn't picture a better view of the Pacific ocean. The small bay was framed by the mountains and the rough water was rolling onto the beach.

After some picture-taking we began our descent. The first few zip lines were small and slow to help us get accustomed to breaking and such. There were 17 different zip lines in all. They were all different sizes and speeds. On one of the platforms the guides pointed out a group of howler monkeys sitting in a nearby tree. That was cool. Some people had some trouble making it all the way to the other platform and had to be rescued by the guides (much to the amusement of people who didn't get stuck). After we made it to the bottom it was unanimous that it was a flippin' awesome experience!

When we were finished dining in what looked like tiki hut, we spent an hour relaxing at the beach. Some people spent their time body surfing, others laid out catching some sun, and Rachel spent her time skipping rocks... by herself. Jackie came in from the waves complaining that her chest hurt. We found out later that she was most likely stung by a microscopic jellyfish. She is okay.

We hustled off the beach to rinse off and lessen the colossal amounts of sand on our bodies. We then hopped in the backs of some pick-up trucks and rode off to the community center. At the community center we designed drills for a team of 16-17 year old Nicaraguan volleyball players. Later local kids joined in on the fun. All the girls had a lot of fun and learned a lot. After the drills, we had fun scrimmaging the surprisingly talented players.

We went to an Italian restaurant for dinner and had a choice between an alfredo and a meat sauce dish. It was fun relaxing and hanging out with the team. Afterwards most of the team went to get ice cream. It was good.

The adventures for tomorrow are unknown but we are all excited to see what the day has in store! Everyone misses everyone and says I love you or hello.

Sorry for the cheesiness. We like our adjectives.

Wall, Rachel (loner), and Annie