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CIRENAS BABY!

It´s almost time for us to come back home, and there´s barely two weeks left, before we fly from San Jose back to Portland Oregon. It´s our sixth week in the Carpe Diem Program, and we just finished our last volunteering at CIRENAS. We had to travel by a ferry to reach Nicoya Peninsula, where CIRENAS was based at, and it is one of the most beautiful places I have seen while staying in Costa Rica. CIRENAS is a permaculture community, and it´s beautiful because it´s barely been touched by humans, and CIRENAS plans to keep it like that. While staying at CIRENAS, we did a few activities.

The chicas drinking pipa (cold coconuts) waiting for the ferry

The chicas drinking pipa (cold coconuts) waiting for the ferry

   Our first activity that the whole group really enjoyed was horse back riding; I rode my horse real good. I also got in trouble because me, and Trey started racing on the horses, and apparently I´m the only one who took the fall for that. After the horse back riding, Nana who was a coordinator, and our guide showed us around the wildlife refuge. After that, we were done with the games; the coordinator´s put us to work. The next day, we built staircases on a hillside with the help of Sam (supervisor) and two of the workers on CIRENAS. After the stairs we ate some lunch, and then Sam gaved us a brief tour of CIRENAS, and what Permaculture is. I actually learned a few new things which will be usefull in my near future. Then we went to the beach to swim, again. In the next morning, we all made Empanadas, except me. I panic looking for my journal all over the place, and I found it, stuck in between the beds. Then we left for our homestays.

Riding horses through the nature preserve 

Riding horses through the nature preserve 

Fording the river

Fording the river

   The whole group split into three groups, the six girls split three each, but me and Trey were stuck with our OE´s Topher and Rachel. We stayed on a ranch with Ricardo, and Nelly; they had these two dogs and I swear to my pinky toes, the dogs wanted to fight us. The animals on the ranch really loved Topher though. The animals stoled his phone, layed eggs in his stuff, and there was this goat who loved him so much, he peed on him to mark him as his territory. Despite the animals going wild, the home stay was really great, and their kindness is more then we could ask for.

Eating our delicious homemade empanadas 

Eating our delicious homemade empanadas 

    It was our last night of homestays, and we went the the beach to clean it up, and swim. I swear to god, I have never seen Topher smile so big, and filled with so much anger. Before we went swimming, we spent an hour cleaning up the beach, picking up giant pieces of plastic and broken sandals. Then right after the clean up, Topher picks up my sandal that were flaoting in the ocean, right after the giant clean up we did. He started yelling at me.

    After we were done swimming, we all sat down and panic, because we did not have any clues on how we were going to get to our next destination, but in the end we figured it out, and we left the Nicoya at nine in the morning to last few weeks.

We´ll see you guys waiting back at home soon!

Much love!

Michael Vang

Stay hungry, Stay Foolish!

Mikey V aka "Papas"

Mikey V aka "Papas"

Our week in Masaya, Nicaragua

Our week in Masaya was great. we went to Mariposas Spanish school, stayed in home stays on our own, we went to the top of volcano Santiago, saw lava, swam in a crater, kayaked, and went on a hike. My home stay was great, my host family was very social and kind. My host sister and host brother were the best, it was difficult to say goodbye at the end. Spanish school was great to, I feel I learned a lot about proper Spanish grammar. Masaya has been one of my favorite places to be during this trip. 

Volcan Santiago en Masaya Nicaragua

Volcan Santiago en Masaya Nicaragua

On the Saturday that we stayed in Masaya we went to a crater lake. 

It was lovely, had warm water, good food, and it was a relaxing environment. We also kayaked, I know for some of us it was the first time kayaking including myself. It was a good day at the lake. 

Escuela de Español Mariposas

Escuela de Español Mariposas

During our time in Concepcion Masaya we went to Spanish school. Some were learning to speak the language, others including myself were learning Spanish grammar. On the first day I was having a hard time with the class but then it got easy and in the end I learned a lot. In this picture we are all chillin in hammocks, this was the kick it spot for us. 

Host Family  

Host Family  

We also stayed in amazing homestays, The families were so caring and kind. My host family was the best. My host sister was so kind, she painted my nails, she´s smart, and got a degree in psychology. My host brother was also great, he knows how to sing and play guitar very well. He also had a store and he would let me have snacks from there. My host mom was also great she would cook for me everyday. My host family was the best and it was hard to say goodbye. We exchanged contact information and I hope that we keep in touch. 

Goodbye reunion with all our host families.  

Goodbye reunion with all our host families.  

Conquering Volcan Maderas

18 more days to go! and we have done so much. We bulit a toliet, climbed a volcano, swam in a big volcano lake and much more. Along the way we learned a lot, grew more experince and fought through challenges.

Laughing at Laguna de Apoyo

Laughing at Laguna de Apoyo

For me this trip has thrown a lot of challenges my way. Back at home I am not use to as much walking as we have done so much of on this trip. The long 8 hour hike up the volcano was a huge but great oppurtunity for me. Being one of the slowest ones I was not able to make it up all the way, just to the viewpoint. I was really upset that I knew there was no way I was going to be able to make it to the top and climb a volcano but with the help of my leader (Topher) he talked me into being okay with what I had done so far and accepting that as an accomplishment. Once I wiped my tears and tied my shoes tighter I headed back down the trail.

Aris, Topher, and I hiking up the volcano

Aris, Topher, and I hiking up the volcano

I have learned through the challenges I have faced how strong and brave I can be. There has been many times I have second guessed this whole trip but I have not given up and I will continue to not give up and push myself to the end doing the best I can for my supporters and most importantly myself.

                                                            *ALESA PRITCHETT*

Making baskets 

Making baskets 

Volunteering at an elementary school

Volunteering at an elementary school

Sunset at Bona Fide

Sunset at Bona Fide

On to the next adventure

On to the next adventure

On the road again

On the road again

My time at Bona Fide (or the poop, the shower, and the spider)

Bona Fide, where to start. This place has opened my eyes to so many new things. From the spiders (I am happy will never see again but will always remember the screams) to hiking a volcano  for 8 hours. But it was all an amazing experience.

Beach day! 

Beach day! 

           The first day there I thought it was going to be like cabins and outdoor bathrooms but it was the completely different.The first thing was we all shared a room. Everyone! boys and girls. One thing ill always be grateful for was Jovin for letting me sleep on her bed all four nights. I also washed her underwear and ill never let her forget it. It was going to be a great way to get to know each other. they then procceded to show us the bathrooms. They were out side and had specific stations to do your buisness. But what suprized me the most was the showers. They where outside! only three walls outside no door. no nothing. My mind went crazy. I thought I was not going to make it alive.  

The bathroom 

The bathroom 

           But as time went on I got used to the showers and the bathrooms. I got to meet new people and hear thier stories. We did a lot of activities that always kept us busy like weaving baskets, making chocolate, fermenting cabagge and carrots that turned into kimchie. I got to meet ´people like Sarah and Eleena (and we exchanged instagram and snapchat). The leaders there taught us about permaculture and it made me want to grow my own garden to make tea. Im really grateful for the people I met and I wouldnt change the experience at all. 

Kelly

Making baskets from materials from the volcano we hiked

Making baskets from materials from the volcano we hiked

Our bunk beds 

Our bunk beds 

The sign says it all 

The sign says it all 

Composting toilet 

Composting toilet 

Penas Blancas Passion

With opén arms, bright eyes and wide smiles, the community of Artesana accepted our foreign, but friendly group of travelers like family. They, conciously or not, ranked the quality and quantity of our meals based on the ammount of days we had been there, and possibly the amount of work we had contributed. The first job to be done was the installment of a compósting toilet in Don Freddies house. Don Freddie was the ex-president of the non-profit Artesana and held a commanding, but light hearted presence. Him and his wife had four children to themselves, and their latrine was not in any condition to sustain them any longer. It was an honor to provide them with such a privledge many of us take in the states. Furthermore, his wife was thrilled with the ability to use the soon-to-ready compost for her garden. Though the laboris task of installing water lines drained our bodies, our hearts were filled by the opportunity to play with the little ninos during their recess. The school was located directly across the street from the house we were constructing at and this gave us the ability to play with the children. It also gave the children the opportunity to help, voluntarily of course, with the much needed moving of stone that was to finalize the process of covering the holding tank of the compost. A task in which they brought much joy in doing. Our going-away ceremony was very special in the fact that the whole community came to give and recieve thanks for all that was brought and shared with one another. We had a delicious feast and the rooms were filled with delight. Some of us danced, and some of us observed, but all was done with laughter and smiles. I will always be in much grattitude for the openess and the lessons that the small, bright-eyed community of Artesana and Penas Blancas provided to our forgein, but friendly group of strangers. 

Thank you for all the love and lessons,

Trey Slyapich.

Fortaleza with Don Freddie, and his new composting toilet. 

Fortaleza with Don Freddie, and his new composting toilet. 

We were playing cops and robbers and the robbers were always outwitting the cops

We were playing cops and robbers and the robbers were always outwitting the cops

Farewell ceremony dinner 

Farewell ceremony dinner 

El Blogadora, Jo (:

The question that most people ask is, ¨Why Nicaragua?¨ The truth is, I didn´t choose Central America for a place for me to study. India had been the original choice.Carpe Mundi had two cohorts; Fortaleza and Ganesha.I was put into Ganesha. I spent the whole summer of 2016 getting to know the students from that cohort. We all shared personal stories and opened up with one another. We became a family. February came, and it was almost time for both cohorts to start their journey. A day before departure, I got a call from my cohort Leader, Hansell Bourdon. My visa for India was still going through the process of getting fixed, and it was going to take three more weeks for it to be done. I was devastated. I told myself that I knew the trip was too good to be true. I told my cohort what had happened and they were all bummed because they all knew how excited I was to be roaming the streets of India. Before I got off the phone with Hansell, she told me that I had two options; wait three more weeks for my visa to come through, or go with the Fortaleza cohort. I felt very limited at this point, but I kept telling myself that everything happens for a reason, and that Central America will still be a life changing experience. Hansell made sure that whatever decision I made was what I was content with. She kept telling me that Central America was going to be a great experience just like India, and to stay positive. She reassured me with everything she said on the phone. After talking to her, I felt better about what was happening. 

Instead of flying on February 15th, my flight had changed to February 18th. I was to travel alone because both cohorts had already gone. This was going to be my first time flying alone. I was really nervous because I wasn´t sure if I was going to get lost, or catch a wrong flight. Before I departed, I recieved a text from Hansell; ¨You can do this, I believe in you. You are courageous, strong, and beautiful.¨ It was what I needed to hear. She always knew how to reassure me. After 12 hours of flying, I finally made it to Managua, Nicaragua. As soon as I stepped off the plane, I became super confident knowing that I traveled by myself into a whole different place. The air smelled different, the people spoke spanish; a language I couldn´t comprehend very well, and a bunch of young handsome boys. I was already hyped. Meeting a whole different group wasn´t a challenge for me because they all welcomed me as if I was a part of their cohort from the start. They welcomed me with open arms and a poster they made for me. Being with a whole different set of students made me feel blessed. After a few days with them made me realize how lucky I was to meet such friendly, intelligent, smart, and funny people. I felt very blessed. I was able to spend the whole summer with Ganesha and travel with Fortalesa. Getting to know all the students that worked so hard to travel and experience a different way of living has really opened my eyes. 

There´s no place i´d rather be than to be here with the Fortaleza cohort. Everyone´s energy is so great. They´re always so eager to learn, and everyone of them has a personality that´s super unique. Each student from this cohort brings so much to the table, and I feel very privilidged (i dont think i spelled this right) to spend two months learning and growing with them. Also, the Fortaleza leaders are the best! They´re very understanding. They make learning a fun experience. Rachel can be a bit challenging because she always wants to win games, but for the most part, she´s awesome. Christopher (Topher), is super awesome and chill. He´s very calm and super nice. They´re always dancing in public, and I love that because they make me and everyone else in the group feel confident to be weird and do crazy things that we´ll remember forever. I think it´s great that Fortaleza has two leaders who are compatible and are ready to go through s*** with us. Now that I´m here in an exotic wonderful place with great people, I know that everything happens for a reason. Some plans don´t work out to how you want them to, but I now know that it´s for the best. God always has better plans for you than you had intended. Thank you Nicaragua for making me love beans!

Jo, at la Cascada Blanca

Jo, at la Cascada Blanca

Scavenger hunt blogs! Exploring Matagalpa from the Tragons

Good Afternoon,

It´s been three days since we have arrived in Nicaragua, Matagalpa. I hated the airplane ride so much. I could not sleep for crap, and I hated the how there was no leg space. Besides that, we made it here safely, and it´s everything like how I imagined it was. It´s hot, I´m sweaty, I suck at speaking the LANGUAGE AND ITS BEAUTIFUL AS HELL OVER HERE! TELL MY MOM, I MISS EM.

Michael Vang

im in nicaragua and it´s been three days.  the plane ride was long but im glad to be here.  i got into my hostel and it kinda reminded me of a cabin. i´ve tried some food here and it´s really good. im excited to meet my host family soon. i miss my own family but i´m super excited to be here.

Kelly Martinez

Fortaleza has arrived!!

Hola familia y amigos! 

Fortaleza has arrived safely in Nicaragua (with all our stuff)! We're currently getting settled into our hostel, and are getting ready to head to our first meal together. We had a successful night of travel, navigating the airport and getting to know more about each other.  We are doing well, albeit a little sleepy. Check back in over the next few days to hear more about our beginning adventures, after we catch up on sleep. :)

With love, 

The Fortaleza Cohort. 

The Final Countdown (bah bah bah bahhhh)

Hello!  Fearless leaders Rachel and Topher here with a pre-departure update from Portland.  For the past 10 days we have been planning and organizing our trip with the support of the amazing staff of Carpe Diem Headquarters here in Portland.

A few highlights of our training include spending a week at a rain-drenched riverside retreat center in Corbett, showing off our sweet skills in a laughter-filled game night, and binging on American comfort foods in our hostel (see photo evidence below). 

Having first been exposed to international living on a study-abroad year in Costa Rica during high school, Topher is getting pumped to be back in the land of rainforests and gallo pinto. Rachel also lived in Costa Rica for a year teaching English, and enjoyed her forays into Nicaragua while there. She is excited to transform into her Spanish speaking alter-ego “Raquelita” and laugh with all the monkeys.

It's hard to believe that in a few short days, we will finally be all together as a group embarking on a truly amazing adventure. We can’t wait to experience the wonder that is travel with all of you as we all grow, learn, and transform together.

Hasta prontito, y con mucho cariño,

Rachel and Topher

Teamwork makes the dream work. 

Teamwork makes the dream work.