Nicaragua Trip - January 14 & 15, 2016

by thomascoons
Jan 26

The following was written by Hannah Conroy, one of the travel team members for the EWB Latin America Chapter, during their January assessment trip to Nicaragua:

Back West We Go

Yesterday we woke up early to leave Alimikamba and travel for Siuna where we stayed for the night. We had a nice view of the sunrise on the way.

On the way there we stopped in Enpalme and met with a community member. He was quite the character and explained how to find water by dousing and that groundwater goes up the wells when the earth is upside down. The ride was our last long drive, and we were all happy to have an afternoon to rest. Bob, Marcus, and I went to lunch at a bar - Bob and I ordered chicken fajitas and got chicken fingers. At dinner feeling full, Bob and I decided to split a meal and again order chicken fajitas. When chicken fingers came out again all we could do was laugh. Fool us twice! 

Marcus was driving out to Alimikamba and stopped to stay in Siuana for the night. We had dinner with him and said good-bye. The next morning we woke up and made our way over to the airstrip to fly back to Managua. The plane was going to be overweight and they almost decided to leave our bags. Luckily, they figured something out, and our bags and us were off in a small 12-person plane. It was incredible to sit right behind the pilots and take off on a dirt airstrip. The plane flew low to the ground the whole time, and it was so cool to see the geography of Nicaragua as we flew past.

We got to the airport and were greeted by Guillermo, our contact for the NGO Amigos de la Tierra and Reserva Silvestre Quelantaro. Guillermo drove us to the Reserva where we will be staying for the next 3 nights. It is really beautiful with lots of wood architecture and plants. Bob and Luis and Paige and I each get our own very nice guest house! 

We ate a delicious lunch or grilled chicken, potatoes, rice, fried plantains, and salad (they use all purified water so we can eat veggies - yay!) A very nice break from the usual food we were eating. 

After lunch we drove about 15 minutes to meet the mayor of Villa El Carmen. The mayor over sees 57 communities on the district and Villa El Carmen is the capital. We will be meeting with communities in the district. The mayor told us he had 7 water projects planned in different communities and we wanted to be sure we wouldn't overlap. Guillermo wasn't sure about the projects because he knew some of those communities hadn't heard of them, so we will have to find more information about that. Overall, the mayor seemed informed about the communities and understood the need to work on the social side of water projects. 

We headed back to the Reserva, and Guillermo presented a slideshow about the NGO. We learned about the geography of Nicaragua and how the Nicaraguan government often ignores Villa El Carmen, even though it is close to Managua. Guillermo told us that there are lots of sugar plantations in the area and the people who work there often die young of kidney disease. Water quantity and quality and sanitation are also common problems. The NGO seeks to educate the communities about preserving wildlife and the environment, as well as creating economic opportunities through activities like organic farming. We were all impressed with his presentation and the NGO's goals. 

We relaxed for a bit and had a late dinner of rice and beans with yummy tortilla chips and sour cream. After dinner, Guillermo used his phone to make owl noises. The owls responded, and we were able to look at them in the trees! They were very little and very cute. Tomorrow we have a big day ahead us; we are meeting with three communities.