Over the summer I went on the Central American Summer Abroad trip that is offered to Spanish I and II students. The trip is to Nicaragua for community service and tourism. The trip overall was a rewarding and enjoyable experience, yet it did not come without its difficulties. In all, twelve students went on the trip, including myself, and we were accompanied by Mr. Sydnor and Mr. Rivera. We arrived in Managua, the capital, to begin our trip and over the next couple of days visited the city, eating at Latin American restaurants, and seeing Museums and places around town. We ate a lot of typical Nicaraguan foods including queso blanco, yuca, a lot of rice and beans, as well as meats with various Latin American sauces. We also went zip-lining over a large lake and visited an active volcano. Next, we left for Estelí, the town where we would live for several weeks, performing our community service.
A long drive allowed us to see the countryside where cows grazed and many volcanoes dotted the horizon. We began to drive through some mountains as we came to Estelí. At a hotel we met our host families where each boy was given one family to live with. The families spoke little or no English which gave us the full immersion experience. I liked my family very much but life was hard. It was very hot and they do not have the same lifestyle we do, but it gave me insight into how life is in third world countries. Every weekday we worked at schools where we taught English and Math. We also worked in the garden with the children and played soccer when the kids were free. By far, the kids were the best part of the trip. At first they were weary of us foreigners, but many of them later came to enjoy our company, talking and joking around with us. We learned a lot if not more from the kids, then what we taught them.
We would eat our meals with our host families which was how I got to know my family well. We talked about Nicaragua and they asked many questions about Woodberry and my family. This was great practice of the Spanish language. We had several excursions in and out of town during the trip. Our two weekend excursions took us to Léon and Matagalpa. On these weekends we ate delicious seafood at great restaurants. We also hiked the volcano Cerro Negro where we went sand-boarding. That was one of the coolest activities I have ever done. We also made little excursions from the town of Estelí such as visiting coffee and cigar companies. In afternoons we spent time exploring the city going to the mall and an awesome cafe.
Toward the end of the trip we were all growing tired. The trip was twenty-five days and by nineteen a lot of us were ready to go home. We finished up our community service and our time in Estelí came to a close and for the last four days, we were tourists. We went to a town called Granada where we stayed in a colonial style hotel with a nice pool. There we went to a marketplace and a chocolate museum. Our next stop was San Juan del Sur, which was my favorite place. We stayed in an amazing resort overlooking the bay where there were pools and enormous suites. The town was beautiful and we were able to go on an ATV trip for several miles. We drove through mud and did donuts on the beach and it turned out to be one of the best days on the trip. Finally we went back to Managua and our flight left early the next morning. All in all, it was a great trip giving us valuable experience, however it is difficult and tiresome, so anyone who wishes to go needs to be willing to be personally invested in order to get the most out of the trip.