Thursday, September 12, 2013

Travels: Nicaragua!

Three days from now, my husband and I will be in Nicaragua, a place neither of us has been before. My favorite. (Burglars, calm down. We have house sitters.) Hopefully, our days will be full of tromping through the mud, riding bikes through the old city streets, and hiking to the tops of volcanoes. We haven't planned much of our trip, because we tend to make ourselves so busy we collapse. So this time, we're going to go where the wind blows and see what Nicaragua has for us.

I really hope it has cervesas for us. And lots of dulces. And naps.

Leon, Nicaragua. Photo from here.

Before we booked our tickets, I knew pretty much nothing about Nicaragua except that it is in Central America, is Spanish-speaking, and that we could fly there on Spirit points. Ding, ding, ding! Sign me up. Why not?! But as I've been doing some research on the area, I'm learning that Nicaragua is a beautiful country - one about the size of New York state - but also one that's been wracked by civil wars and political strife since its beginnings in the early 16th century. Those wars, plus natural disasters inevitable with its location and presence of volcanoes and earthquakes, have left Nicaragua in a perpetual state of recovery and rehabilitation. Cities have been rebuilt over and over, and communities have returned again and again to survive on land that doesn't seem to welcome them.

Nicaragua is one of the poorest countries in Latin American, and is second only to Haiti in the Western Hemisphere. Income distribution is very uneven, leaving the rich and the poor in entirely different worlds. Here are a few facts according to the Nicaragua Initiative for Community Advancement:
  • Just 29% of children complete primary-level education
  • Adolescent pregnancies account for 1 in 4 births nationally
  • 33% of children have some degree of chronic malnutrition, and 9% suffer from severe malnutrition
  • 45% of all income goes to the richest 10% of the country's population, while only 14% goes to the poorest
This picture of Nicaragua breaks my heart, but it's not the whole story. While it has definitely fought and struggled, the country is also known to be the safest in Central America, having some of the best coffee around, and (obviously) being beautiful beyond belief. But really, the people are its gem. For all the bad press it gets, I'm so ready to find the good and the hope in Nicaragua.

Our host sent us recommendations for things to do while we're visiting, and in the process, I learned about several organizations working hard to provide jobs and rehabilitation to the community. A search for a tour company has now led to the opportunity to write several stories while I'm there, and I could not.be.more.excited. Could not. Writing is a job, but it's also what pumps fire into my veins, so if I was excited to go on vacation before, I'm now so far beyond that. I can't even handle it right now. Are we there yet?!

In my research, I also discovered we will be arriving on the country's Independence Day. Don't worry, Nicaragua, I'll help you celebrate.

Stay tuned in the coming weeks. I'm sure we'll have lots of stories to share about our adventures when we get back!

In the meantime, I will be sequestered in my home trying to figure out how to pack stuff for two people and seven days in one backpack. Challenge accepted.

¡Hasta luego mis amigos! Mucho amor para cada uno de ustedes.

7 comments:

  1. First of all - knowing that you actually DID get 2 people's stuff packed into 1 backpack for a 7 day trip is ridiculous!! Second - knowing you is way too much fun and flurry for most of us. I love that you go and do and share your adventures with us along the way! Be safe. Have fun. Write until you have no words. Mom ♥

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    1. Thanks, mom! I definitely didn't get my minimalist packing skills from you. ;)

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  2. Me...vicariously...through you guys...

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    1. Ha! Well, you have your own adventures brewing! Can't wait to hear more about the Discovery Center.

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  3. The downtown streets are going to miss the daily massage from Roberts running shoes. I'll be sure to get Jessica out there to make up for any lost mileage. Enjoy the trip! And don't forget to Path as you hit wifi hot spots.

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