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Jatzibe is on their way home!

The Jatzibe cohort has gone through security in San Jose, and is currently flying back to the US! They look forward to seeing you tonight! 

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Here are some final words from their leaders: 

Adios y buenas suerte JatziBAEs!

Wow! What a journey we have been on together! 

The last eight weeks have been full of ups and downs and we all have grown immeasurably. From navigating the streets of Matagalpa, to swimming in waterfalls, to riding horses, to flying through the air, to finishing on the beaches of Costa Rica, we have formed a forever bond. 

There are not words to express how proud we are for everything you have achieved and the challenges you have faced since we first met in Portland. You are stronger and more capable than you can ever know and we hope you take these lessons learned into the amazing life you will lead.  Thank you to each of you. Thank you for the love you brought. Thank you for being your authentic self. Thank you for your commitment to this experience. Thank you for the laughs and the jokes. Thank you, thank you, thank you. 

Always remember to stay “flexi flexi” and eat your breakfast oreos.

Besos y abrazos,

Katannah 

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Katannah.jpg

Turtle Life and More

By April and Kiara

 Hillary and April help in relocating green sea turtle eggs into a hidden nest with Kuemar Guanacaste turtle conservation project. (Photo taken with red light to not disturb turtles.) 

Hillary and April help in relocating green sea turtle eggs into a hidden nest with Kuemar Guanacaste turtle conservation project. (Photo taken with red light to not disturb turtles.) 

Earlier this week we arrived at Matapalo on the 6th to help with the Kuemar sea turtle conservation project.  We learned about sea turtles and helped clean the beaches to lessen negative impacts on the turtles. The first night the group walked on one of the three beaches together named Nombre de Jesus and got to experience seeing three turtles, none of them laid eggs but the experience was still fun. As the week progressed, we started going in smaller groups to look for nesting females and move the eggs so poachers wouldn't take the eggs. During the process we learned different facts about the turtles such as they come up every few years to lay their eggs (not every year), and as they make their nests they become unaware of surroundings as they concentrate on digging and laying their nest.  We still have to use only a red light or it would scare off the turtles. 

 Tall islands emerged from the clear waters of the Pacific Ocean

Tall islands emerged from the clear waters of the Pacific Ocean

 Beach sunset on Playa Real

Beach sunset on Playa Real

 Beautiful shells from the beach

Beautiful shells from the beach

On the second day we got to the turtle project it was Kate's (one of our leaders) birthday and we celebrated with sweets from a bakery truck, made a card, and made a turtle mask for her. 

 31st birthday! Left shark card, turtle mask, and treats!

31st birthday! Left shark card, turtle mask, and treats!

Since the trip is ending this means that this is the last blog to appear, so here is a little overview of the trip!

 Baby sea turtle makes its way to the ocean after a nest excavation with the project coordinator. 

Baby sea turtle makes its way to the ocean after a nest excavation with the project coordinator. 

During week one, we stayed in Matagalpa for 2 weeks.  The first week we lived at a hostel and got to walk around and experience the town life. The second week was with homestays and going to spanish school while doing some activities such as hiking to La Cruz, dancing a cultural dance, baking some sweets, and also had some time to talk with one of the ladies from the school about Nicaraguan feminism. We also celebrated my birthday! (Kiara)

Next stop was Estili where we stayed for 4 nights with two nice families that provided our beds and food. During this time we hiked for 5 hours to a waterfall and since April had sprained her foot she had her own experience of riding a horse around the area. (We also celebrated Natali's birthday!)

Continuing on from Estili, we arrived to Peñas Blancas and the Artesana project to help build a toilet for one of the community members.  During those five days we also had a few afternoon activities including learning how to paint murals, make wood carvings into printed painted pictures, making traditional baked goods, and hiking to a waterfall while learning about the natural homeopathy.

Boating our way to Ometepe, Nicaragua on a ferry we stayed on a permaculture farm called Bona Fide.  We completed many tasks including field work, lots of bucket watering of plants, feeding and cleaning the chicken cage, working around the garden by raking leaves as well as creating some compost.  We also worked in the plant nursery watering the baby plants and also planted some as well. Last but not least, we helped cook meals in the kitchen for breakfast, lunch, and dinner with the food provided from the farm. One of the most memorable experiences on the farm was sleeping with spiders. 

Chicken bussing our way to La Concha, approximately 30 minutes away from Masaya, we started Spanish school and homestays for another two weeks. The afternoon activities of helping at a traditional kids spanish school, teaching kids and adults english, working at an after school community center for kids, and working at community garden were great! One of my favorite memories here was learning how to dance at the school and watching the little kids perform a traditional dance. Homestays were hard to leave after being there for two weeks because of getting so close to our families, they definitely made a place in my heart.

Zipping through the weeks, we made our way to student directed travel where we went shopping in Masaya for a day, took a boat ride around the islands of Granada, went zip lining and swam our hearts away in a pool. 

 Micky and Minnie live in Alejula?! 

Micky and Minnie live in Alejula?! 

Now we sit in San Jose, Costa Rica after playing with turtles two days before we fly off to go home. We are just relaxing and going over last minute school activities with our leaders. Central America has been fun and now we are all ready to be in the comforts of our family and homes. Thank you to everyone who supported us and our experience and got us to where we are now. 

Love,

Jatzibe crew 

 Final dinner together, pizza party! 

Final dinner together, pizza party! 

Student Directed Travel Week

This week was student directed travel week. We got to do what we wanted when we wanted, where we wanted. To save money, to be used for activities, we stayed all five days in a beautiful hostel, located off the main street in Granada and cooked many of our meals ourselves. During our stay we had private, two person bedrooms, access to a full kitchen, free phone calls to the USA, internet access, and a swimming pool. Being in a walking boot because of broken toe, I did not get much time in the pool.  Instead, I found ways to have fun just hanging out around the pool and taking pictures when our group was enjoying their time in it. 

We had a lot of downtime in the beginning of the week. It wasn't till yesterday (April 3rd), that we really started doing things as a whole group. In the beginning of the week we explored Granada, We explored many of the local markets, the gorgeous churches, and a chocolate museum. The markets are filled with bracelets, necklaces, paintings, magnets and much more. Everything I had seen except for shirts, hats, and other things like that, was handmade in Nicaragua. The churches are filled, wall to wall, with paintings, even on the ceiling. There are many beautiful sculptures of many important biblical people. In the chocolate museum there are sculptures, paintings, coffee, chocolate, and even some amazing chocolate samples. The chocolate tasted amazing. If only it wasn't so hot here I would bring some home.

Our first big activity during student directed travel happened yesterday. As a group we all traveled to the Masaya Markets. These markets were huge. There was a touristy/craft market, where many souvenirs were bought. There was also a more local market that offered everything from fresh fruit and vegetables, to pedicures, haircuts, fresh meat, rice and clothes. Personally I liked the more touristy market more because of the vast colors, sizes and amount of bracelets, cups and paintings there was.

The boat tour of the infamous Isletas (little islands) near Granada was a cool experience. We got a entire tour of the islands and animals around one side of Lake Nicaragua. There was so many cool birds, plants, and monkeys around the edge. At one point we stopped and  monkey named Lucy climbed into our boat. That was my favorite experience on the boat tour. I have never been that close to a wild monkey before.

 Heading out for a boat tour of Las Isletas (little islands) in Granada. 

Heading out for a boat tour of Las Isletas (little islands) in Granada. 

Zip lining was another highlight of our week; it was amazing. We were high amongst the trees. Flying through the air and doing different tricks will be an experience I will never forget. There were a few group members who had never been zip lining before. I went first and showed them the ropes. If felt so nice to have the wind blowing through my hair and I was the bravest one in our group daring to go upside and backwards. I think everyone had a good time because of the smiles on everyone's faces.

 The group is ready to go zip lining!

The group is ready to go zip lining!

On our next adventure we are headed to Costa Rica to work with the sea turtles. I can´t wait. 

Love, April

    April, relaxing, as the group wait for the bus to Costa Rica. 

 

April, relaxing, as the group wait for the bus to Costa Rica. 

Homestay Life

April, 1st 2018

Here we sit in La Conception practicing our Spanish skills, working with kids and a reserva, and walking through the town areas of our homestay families. The homestays have been a mix of feelings yet many memories to cherish….

April: “I LOVE IT!! It's hard to communicate but I make it easy by acting out what I'm trying to say and by dancing. Also the food is pretty good; I had an interesting dish with a ketchup sauce with pasta and every morning I have Gallo pinto, huevos, coffee, fruit ( like a lot), and bread. One of the things I won't forget is when my homestay dad said “ Buenas noches mi amor.” They never make me feel like I'm left out.”

 Open air Spanish class classrooms! 

Open air Spanish class classrooms! 

Syd: “I love it!! I want to adopt my little brother even when he is a pain (chuckles). One of the funniest yet accepting moments I won't forget is when I told my homestay mom I went to church and got commune even though I wasn't baptized; she laughed so hard she started crying. 95% of the time the food  is good and some of it is weird stuff, like I don't know what it is.”

 Preparing for Semana Santa procession at Kate's family's house. 

Preparing for Semana Santa procession at Kate's family's house. 

Tanasia: “The communication is hard. At first I was lonely since my bedroom wasn't connected to the house but later I had a moment with my mom. I was watching her sort out beans and she said something I didn't understand so I told her “si!” and then she dumped some beans on the table and we started to organize the beans together, taking out the bad ones and anything else in it.”

 Semana Santa processions in honor of Holy Week.

Semana Santa processions in honor of Holy Week.

Natali: “My homestay makes me feel loved and welcomed. I feel happy and that I'm learning a lot about their culture. There was the time in the homestays that one of our dogs had puppies. Also when my host sister and I were walking together and for the first time we had a conversation. They are also super welcoming when I come home. The food is mainly beans, rice, PLANTAINS in every meal. At first I didn't like plantains but now I love them! They also have the best coffee I've ever had and all my meals were cooked on a open fire. My family really inspires me and it is really eye opening experience.”

 Trip to Volcán Masaya to look down into the crater of an active volcano. 

Trip to Volcán Masaya to look down into the crater of an active volcano. 

Hillary: “My family makes me feel welcomed and cared for, I’m pleased with my homestay and always included in the family. I will take away the long hours of conversations with my mom and learning about each other and simply having each others presence. Plus she was always killing spiders right away for me. The food is heaven, absolute heaven. I always have a variety of delicious food. I hope that one day I can return and visit them.”

 Laguna de Apoyo, a fun weekend trip for swimming and sunbathing! 

Laguna de Apoyo, a fun weekend trip for swimming and sunbathing! 

Kiara: “I don't think my experience could have gone any better besides having a little bit of a language barrier. My family is so loving, caring and funny. They always laughed when I was dancing and soon started to get them to dance with me. The food was mainly rice and beans but there was always a surprise of different ways plantains were cooked and some type of meat or fish. The last few days were difficult because of some troubles for the family but that didn't change how much I loved them. Also my best friend ended being a dog named Mancha. I am most definitely coming back in the future to see them.”

 Kate the bat and Suzannah the monkey!

Kate the bat and Suzannah the monkey!

Suzannah: “The first day of a  homestay is uncomfortable and it takes some getting used to. Though it finished being comfy! My food was great and I had the best gallo pinto ever! One of my favorite moments was when Tanasia and Natali come over to interview my mom and sister. It was the first time I got to watch my mom and sister interact, which was hilarious, and it was fun to hear everyone talk and hear about their progressive views on Nicaraguan culture. Also another thing I won’t forget about is having tea time and watching the Spanish version of Judge Judy with my family. It was keeping us on the edge of our seats the last night!”

 Spanish conversation class walk to a lookout point to see Volcán Masaya.

Spanish conversation class walk to a lookout point to see Volcán Masaya.

Kate:  My first impressions of my home were: exciting, exhausting, lots of activity, loved my 3 dogs. My family was hilarious and the house was always full of life. The food was awesome in my house! There was gallo pinto every meal; I even craved it in between meals. I also had the best cooked pork ever; I was freaking out it was so good. On top of gallo pinto I always got plantains and the eggs specifically came from our chickens because my mom was weary of the hormones in the store bought ones. The funniest moment was the night before the procession, we made a purple streamer that  hung across the road. From helping to search for the stapler and trying to hang them in the dark of night in a tree, I just really enjoyed that moment and being a part of the process.”

Group Dynamics

 The view from the farm as the sun sets over Volcán Concepción.

The view from the farm as the sun sets over Volcán Concepción.

 By Tanasia B. 

There lies Tuesday, March 13th, the last day of the first half of the semester. Sometimes goodbyes can be difficult, however this week Jatizibe has been learning how to blissfully say goodbye to preconceived assumptions, expectations, and all things negative. As the cliche saying goes, “when one door closes another one opens” and in this case that door is Wednesday, March 14th, the first day of the second half of the semester.

 First time: learning about and utilizing organic permaculture practices in the garden. Syd and Tanasia clear away leaves and water the garden.

First time: learning about and utilizing organic permaculture practices in the garden. Syd and Tanasia clear away leaves and water the garden.

During the past ten days we paid a visit to the island of Ometepe. On the island resides an organic, permaculture farm known as Bona Fide. There we participated in a handful of typical, yet physically demanding farming chores. Despite the intensive physical labor, Bona Fide turned out to be the perfect opportunity for Jatizibe to experience many memorable first times.

 First time: de-husking coconuts with the traditional method using a pick-ax. Syd be came an expert, which was lucky for us since much of our food included coconut.

First time: de-husking coconuts with the traditional method using a pick-ax. Syd be came an expert, which was lucky for us since much of our food included coconut.

For most, we experienced for the first time sleeping in a dorm with only three partial walls. We encountered spiders as big as our palms, and slept to monkeys howling throughout the nights. We let loose to pee outdoors and shower in the open breeze. Some braved petting a baby tarantula, meanwhile most experienced trotting along the shoreline on a horse for their first time. Not to mention breathing came easy when practicing yoga in fresh air of Ometepe. I must say we embraced nature at its finest for we enjoyed simplicity. 

 First time: making chocolate from raw cacao. We made ginger chocolate, coconut chocolate, and plain chocolate. April enjoyed kneading the ingredients into the chocolate. 

First time: making chocolate from raw cacao. We made ginger chocolate, coconut chocolate, and plain chocolate. April enjoyed kneading the ingredients into the chocolate. 

Among our many first, best of all, we were able to make the uncomfortable comfortable. We are all still learning to let go of things preventing us to be present as well as letting go of our fears. Jatzibe has been taking rather great strides to grow both as a group and individually. Simultaneously, we are all realizing our gifts and sharing our knowledge with each other in efforts to continue moving together as we travel to our next adventure. 

 First time: harvesting and processing cinnamon from a cinnamon tree. Natali and Kiara worked diligently to carefully remove strips of the inner bark of the tree. 

First time: harvesting and processing cinnamon from a cinnamon tree. Natali and Kiara worked diligently to carefully remove strips of the inner bark of the tree. 

 First time: clearing out a composting toilet. Hillary scoops the composted aftermath into buckets. 

First time: clearing out a composting toilet. Hillary scoops the composted aftermath into buckets. 

 First time: using balboa for the a conference call. Kate and Suzannah call Carpe Mundi headquarters to say hi. 

First time: using balboa for the a conference call. Kate and Suzannah call Carpe Mundi headquarters to say hi. 

 First time: riding horses on a beach

First time: riding horses on a beach

 The crew, as drawn by our own Syd Weldon! 

The crew, as drawn by our own Syd Weldon! 

Penas Blancas and Artesana

By Sydney Weldon

This week the ladies of Jatzibe ventured their way via Chicken Bus to the ArteSana community in Peñas Blancas. The six of them stayed in an adorable cabin next door to the legendary Don Chico´s house surrounded by chickens and colorful flowers. 

 The breath-taking mountain view from the backyard of our home for the week. 

The breath-taking mountain view from the backyard of our home for the week. 

 A hike to the towering Rainbow Waterfall led by our friend Jorge and the legendary Don Chico. 

A hike to the towering Rainbow Waterfall led by our friend Jorge and the legendary Don Chico. 

Each morning, Jatzibe would start with a delicious breakfast made by the benevolent kitchen staff, then would venture down the road to work for the community. This week, the ladies worked to eventually build a composting toilet for one of the community´s members! 

 The start of our building project before we dug a couple huge holes. 

The start of our building project before we dug a couple huge holes. 

 Nearly finished with the project! The composting toilet tank is in the ground!

Nearly finished with the project! The composting toilet tank is in the ground!

After working each morning, the ladies would be met with a creative and cultural learning opportunity. These include painting a mural with Jorge, going on a hike and learning about herbal remedies with Don Chico, cook sweet treats with Miriam, and go on a coffee tour with Henry. 

 Mural painting at ArteSana, taught by our friend Jorge. 

Mural painting at ArteSana, taught by our friend Jorge. 

 Cooking class where we made corn-based bread and baked our bread in a traditional clay oven. 

Cooking class where we made corn-based bread and baked our bread in a traditional clay oven. 

 Coffee farm tour, led by Henry. 

Coffee farm tour, led by Henry. 

This week has been met with a lot of laughter, challenges, illnesses, and sore ankles this week, but it has been a blast! As we wrap up our stay with the loving ArteSana community, we are on our next adventure to the infamous island of Ometepe! 

 Baby coffee plants just a couple weeks old at their sprouting stage. 

Baby coffee plants just a couple weeks old at their sprouting stage. 

Estelí Adventure

By Hillary G.T.

On February 25th, the Jatzibe ladies safely arrived to Estelí, one of the largest cities here in Nicaragua. The ride to Estelí was a very interesting experience, if you ask me. This was the first time that the Jatzibe ladies and I got to ride on a¨chicken bus.¨ Chicken buses are old school buses transported from North America to Central America which are then altered with a lot of different colors and sometimes decorated and put to use as public transportation buses. Unlike buses in the U.S., chicken buses never tend to get ¨too full.¨ People will continue to hop on the buses whether there is room or not. Overall, it was a very unique experience which we will continue to encounter throughout the duration on this trip. After we finally arrived to our hostel we found that Estelí is a beautiful city containing a beautiful white cathedral, colorful murals, museums and beautiful parks surrounded by perfectly green palm trees and other nature.

 On our first chicken bus, a retired school bus.

On our first chicken bus, a retired school bus.

On the second day in Estelí, we headed to Miraflor which is a natural reserve about 30 kilometers outside Estelí.  We stayed with host families for about three days and two nights. The hike up to the homes took about 30 minutes of walking but as we walked up, we got too see more nature and animals such as dogs, cows and horses. The pathway to the home was a trail of palm trees on both sides which felt like you were walking into paradise. In addition, the vista from the homes in Miraflor were lovely, containing full views of sunrises and sunsets surrounded by nature.

 Sunset hike to learn about the zones of the land, see Honduras, and watch the sun set. 

Sunset hike to learn about the zones of the land, see Honduras, and watch the sun set. 

During the first day in Miraflor, we enjoyed relaxing for a few hours before a short hike (1-2 hours) to a viewpoint up the mountains of Miraflor. Standing up at the top of the mountain made me realize how great it feels to be in a completely different environment than I am used to. From the top, we got a complete view of Miraflor and could even see the mountains which belonged to Honduras. We also got to witness a first-class view to the bright orange sunset.

 Suzannah and her animal obsession, the donkey. 

Suzannah and her animal obsession, the donkey. 

 Kate tries out a new hair-do potential thanks to the trees covered in Spanish Moss. 

Kate tries out a new hair-do potential thanks to the trees covered in Spanish Moss. 

The next day, we all woke up at 5am, and headed to another home to have a delicious breakfast and then guess what? We went on another hike! This hike took about 5 hours in total and was definitely worth it. Our goal for this hike was a beautiful waterfall where we got to enjoy the nature surrounding it and also got to jump in and swim in the cold water. After this relaxing break from the hike, we walked back to the home where we had breakfast to have lunch. After lunch, we headed back to our host family´s home.

 Swimming in a waterfall for the first time! 

Swimming in a waterfall for the first time! 

 A beautiful swimming spot during our hike. 

A beautiful swimming spot during our hike. 

Today, February 28th, we returned to Estelí early in the morning and are staying in the same hostel we stayed in when we first arrived. It has been a very restful day where we all got to go out and explore Estelí´s beauty and go shopping.

 Happy Birthday, Natali! 

Happy Birthday, Natali! 

 One of beautiful Esteli's many murals. 

One of beautiful Esteli's many murals. 

The Jatzibe cohort and I are very excited for our next adventure in Peñas Blancas.

New blog coming soon!

Homestays and Spanish Classes in Matagalpa!

By Natali P. 

This week was our first full week in Matagalpa, Nicaragua! The Jatzibe women have been exploring this colorful, small city while staying with host families and attending the Colibri Spanish School. We settled into our Host Family´s houses on Sunday, February 18th. Syd and April are living with a woman named Guillermina and her family in a pretty red house, surrounded by palm trees, Kiara and Hillary are living in a beautiful and modern white house with a woman named Miladis Larios and her family, while Tanasia and Natali are living with a woman named Ingrid Rivera and her family in a nice, comfortable red house, surrounded by a luscious garden. Each of us have been enjoying home cooked, Central American food, while spending time with our homestay families and learning about their cultures and language through immersion.

 The group heading to homestays with their Nicaraguan mamas.

The group heading to homestays with their Nicaraguan mamas.

 Colibri Spanish School

Colibri Spanish School

 Diana, Kiara, and April enjoying class

Diana, Kiara, and April enjoying class

 Natali and Karla in class

Natali and Karla in class

 Spanish Bananagrams with Syd, Hillary, and their teacher, Mayra. 

Spanish Bananagrams with Syd, Hillary, and their teacher, Mayra. 

This has been an exciting week, full of new, and diverse learning opportunities. All of us attended Spanish school for 4 hours each day, from Monday, February 18th through Friday, February 23rd. The Colibri Spanish School is located on a hill overlooking the city of Matagalpa. The property of the Spanish school is filled with many different types of plants and herbs, and students are taught in classrooms, which are located outside. Each day, we had the same routine: Spanish school in the morning, then, eating a nutritious lunch, which the Spanish school prepared for us with ingredients from their garden. Every afternoon, we participated in different activities related to Central American culture. These activities consisted of traditional Central American dancing, hiking up to the top of the cross, learning how to cook traditional pastries, and discovering what feminism means in Nicaragua.

 Dance class at Colibri Spanish School!

Dance class at Colibri Spanish School!

 Cooking class to make buñuelos made from yucca and cheese.

Cooking class to make buñuelos made from yucca and cheese.

 Learning about and helping pick herbs for making tea and cooking. 

Learning about and helping pick herbs for making tea and cooking. 

 Walking back to the city after the hike. 

Walking back to the city after the hike. 

Tomorrow, Sunday, February 25th, we are saying goodbye to our host families, here in Matagalpa, and heading off to Esteli, Nicaragua, where we will be exploring rainforests. All the Jatzibe women will be staying together this upcoming week in hostels as well as with families

 The hike up to the cross on the mountain top behind the school.

The hike up to the cross on the mountain top behind the school.

 The view of Matagalpa from the cross.

The view of Matagalpa from the cross.

 Leader selfie! 

Leader selfie! 

Scavenger hunt! Exploring Matagalpa

Hello from Kiara, Hillary, Tanasia, Syd, Natali, April, Suzannah and Katefrom Matagalpa. Nicaragua.  We are finishing up our first week together in-country and will be heading into homestays shortly.  Everyone is settling in and adjusting well to the new sights, sounds, food choices and cultural differences.  One highlight from thie week of orientation has been the scavenger hunt when everyone hit the streets of Matagalpa to navigate to different locations in small groups.  Below are highlights from a few of the ladies about the scavenger hunt and first impressions of Nicaragua.

From Syd:

This scavenger hunt is going well so far. We talked to a really nice local teen and she took us to her favorite restaurant. The prices were right but we weren´t hungry enough to eat there at the time. We also took a few selfies in front of the cathedral and went shopping at a clothing store. This is a really fun activity, but I don´t know when we will be able to finish it. 

From Hillary:

Nicaragua has been a blast so far. I still can´t believe I am here with my cohort and leaders. I am looking forward to meeting my first host family and excited to be able to get to know them and learn about their culture. The food has been amazing, the people are friendly, and the environment is so lively and happy. Having this opportunity has been so surreal and having a group of ladies to experience this journey with makes this perfect. I am looking forward to the challenges and personal growth opportunities which we will encounter together. 

From Kiara:

Nicaragua is going fantastic! So far I have tried street food, seen fireworks that would honestly be illegal in Portland, stayed in a hostel for four days, and now I am getting ready to meet my host family tomorrow.  The group is getting along we are all just getting settled in and getting to know one another by different activities and telling funny stories at night. I am really starting to practice here and there on basic Spanish words but my reading skills have been a struggle for me. Which reminds me, I had a little fun at the airport by forgetting my glasses on the plane! Do not worry I  got them back thanks to one of our leaders named Kate. I hope everything is going great and I love you guys. 

 First lunch out in Matagalpa.  Everyone loved the food!

First lunch out in Matagalpa.  Everyone loved the food!

Safe Arrival

Dear families and friends of the Jatzibe Cohort,

We just heard that the group arrived safely in Nicaragua. They've already made it to their hostel in Matagalpa and are settling in for the night. They had a smooth day of travel. Stay tuned for updates from the group – they will post updates about their orientation in Matagalpa in the coming days.

Central America, it's been real

Shocking but true, the Fortaleza cohort´s time in Central America is coming to an end. From April 6th to 9th we spent our days learning about conserving endangered species of animals at KUEMAR´s Sea Turtle Conservation. It is located in Matapalo, Costa Rica. The área consisted of beautuful villas and many small, Pacific Ocean beaches named Longosta, Real, Nombre De Jesús and more. At night, starting around 7pm our group would walk along the beaches to look for sea turtles coming ashore. My first night, I saw a Pacific Green mama sea turtle give birth to her eggs. At the KUEMAR organization, which is nonprofit, they move the eggs to lower the chance of them being poached. Another night, others saw baby sea turtles emerge from the sand.

 Walking on the beach

Walking on the beach

Another thing we did at KUEMAR was Paint a sign to put up at the beach. The sign notified people to be extra careful when having campfires, prohibited atvs on the beach, and had a bunch of cute sea turtles painted on it.

 Carefully crafting our turtle protection sign

Carefully crafting our turtle protection sign

 Showing off our hard work - No ATVs! 

Showing off our hard work - No ATVs! 

For our last day there, we hiked to another beach for the day. I played a game of chicken that I will never forget. I was laughing so hard my stomach hurt. And me and Trey still pushed everyone else down - more tan once. After that I tanned, where I usually am if not the wáter. Later that night, we took a night of patrolling off and had a (carefully made) bonfire on the beach, in an área where sea turtles do not nest. We went night swimming, had lots of laughs, toasted our buns with the warmth of the fire, sang out own versión of "Down By The Bay" which you proabaly do not want to hear, and some of us had a sand fight. Such a memorable night.

 Fortaleza <3

Fortaleza <3

 Our last night at the beach, bon fire time

Our last night at the beach, bon fire time

We left the next day to the city of Alajuela. After the 6 hour commute, we went out for pizza and the group did karaoke. We have less than 12 hours before we head to the airport. I bought plenty of caffeine drinks- I dont plan on sleeping until Im on the plane. Its crazy to think Ill be in my hometown soon, but Im super ready to see my family again. See you soon my City Of Roses. Central America, its been real.

Yours Truly,

Maria H.  

Student Direct Blog

 First day we arrived in Granada

First day we arrived in Granada

 Me and Arisbeth kayaking to the spider monkey island

Me and Arisbeth kayaking to the spider monkey island

 Group photo before ziplining&nbsp;

Group photo before ziplining 

 The girls before getting in the kayaks

The girls before getting in the kayaks

 Last night in Nicaragua, San Juan del Sur

Last night in Nicaragua, San Juan del Sur

This week was pretty rad. To be honest, student direct Travel was perfect timing. I started to feel overwhelmed with the group; not because I don’t like them but because I realized on this trip that I am an introvert. I don’t normally hang out or travel in large groups so it’s new for me to be living with so many different personalities. I love everyone in my group as an individual and prefer to get to know them one on one.

I plan on traveling more in the future and I think that when I do it will be solo. I know that this week gave me some opportunities to see what it would be like to travel alone and to have to fend for yourself. Having these extra responsibilities will definitely benefit me in the future and help me become that independent traveler I want to be in the future annnd also help me budget my money.  Having more independence helped my Spanish a lot as well.

The first thing we did to set up for student direct travel was gave out roles. My role for the week was to book hostels or hotels and budget how much it would be for the group. I was also I in charge of making sure nobody left anything behind after leaving a place. I was very successful at my job (even though I somehow managed to lose a lot of my things this week? )

ANYWAYS

We started out in Granada and stayed at a hostel called panda. It was very spacious And had a kitchen. We were the only group in this hostel and I made spaghetti for dinner one night!!!! The way we found out about this hostel was not actually from my mad research skills (unfortunately) we actually found out about this place from our leaders who had a book of where carpe groups stayed in the past. I did my best at trying to get us a place in Granada but the guy I spoke to on the phone got angry at me for not being able to speak Spanish and said he didn’t have time to speak to me. He then proceeded to his busy day after he hung up on me (what an asshole). Nobody cared anyway, we had a good time at panda, it was great and even had all of these decorations of pandas all over even kung foo panda ;) we also got to watch television quite often……Be JEALOUS!

The night that we got to Granada, the students planned a very successful group meeting. We covered everything we wanted to do talked about our budget and even made a shopping list so that we could go grocery shopping the next day and cook to save money. For our activities we decided that we would like to go kayaking and zip lining.

The next morning at breakfast a very unusual man named victor approached us, it was mostly my fault for recommending this restaurant to the group for breakfast. Victor was a man with hazel eyes and sharp pointy teeth. He was a salesman from Miami who wanted to offer our group the “best deals” for the activities we wanted to do and transportation. Victor did those things well the only problem was the way he approached our group. He was really creepy and checked up on us when we least expected it. Overall I am very grateful for victor creeping up on us with some slamming deals (shouts out to ya) we were able to get our kayaking done and see spider monkeys on the island and go zip lining. Me and my kayaking partner might have been the fastest kayakers in the history of carpe groups by the way. zip lining was amazing  and the guides gave me the nickname super Rebekah (they really know how to boost a girls confidence).

That night was my fist night ever clubbing it was great dancing by myself I could totally tell everyone was jealous of my killer dance skills and im surprised no one put a spotlight on my leader Topher because his moves were pretty sweet as well. Granada was great in the end. I saw lots of rasta guys from the Caribbean and got a taste of each culture.

Next it was off to san Juan del sur. san juan was a really touristy area with lots of partying but, don’t worry mom and dad, we didn’t get invited to any sweet mansion parties. it was nice spending time relaxing on the balcony of mama Sarah’s house (the hostel we stayed in) it was a very nice place and mama Sarah made us snacks and brought us lemonade which was super sweet. in san Juan we got to start hearing more about other people’s lives in the group by doing our life map activities. This was nice for me especially being the introvert I am and not being very vulnerable all of the time. It was really nice to hear what brought everyone to where they are now and I know now that Fortaleza was the perfect name for our cohort. We are all very strong individuals. San Juan was also super great because i got to go surfing for the first time ever and I know that it's something i would like to do again in the future. Surfing was harder than I expected but I got motivated when I saw Rachel my leader shredding and catching every single wave.

overall student direct was week was a blast and I could totally do it again. I'm excited to travel more in the future and to keep in touch with my cohort.

-pura vida 

Rebekah Lathan

 Gnarly waves brah

Gnarly waves brah

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&nbsp;

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&nbsp;

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 &nbsp;

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. &nbsp;

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&nbsp;

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!&nbsp;

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&nbsp;

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&nbsp;

Our bunk beds 

 The sign says it all&nbsp;

The sign says it all 

 Composting toilet&nbsp;

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.&nbsp;

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&nbsp;

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