June 30, 2014

Visiting the U.S.

I (Cassie) have spent this past week in the U.S. accompanying Yeni, the Dean and our boss at the Baptist Theological Seminary of Nicaragua.  We have traveled from Nicaragua to Washington D.C. to Virginia to Georgia to California.  I am assisting Yeni in sharing about the work of the seminary at various meetings and conferences.  This involves me sharing about my experience as a professor and also translating for Yeni as she shares about the work of the seminary.  It has been busy and tiring, but also very rewarding.  I am glad to be by her side as she shares about this wonderful education that is available to students in Nicaragua and of which we are so proud to be a part of.

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We attended and spoke at a conference of a Korean Baptist denomination who have been a long time supporter and partner of the Seminary.  This meant that we ate Korean food at each meal, which I loved and really miss in Nicaragua.  

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Previous Nicaragua MCC co-workers, Adam and Marisa generously drove to meet us for a coffee date while we were in Virginia.  It was great to see them again.


Beyond our meetings and presentations, we have been able to take a few hours here and there to enjoy ourselves and see the United States.  This is Yeni’s second time in the U.S., but before she had only been able to visited Miami.  As we have visited historical places, Yeni, who is from Cuba, has proven to know more about U.S. history than I.  It has been interesting to visit some of these tourist sites with her and hear her perspective.

Here we are in front of the U.S. Capital and Library of Congress building.

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The following pictures were taken at the FDR monument and at the President’s desk :)

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We were also thrilled to pass by the Nicaraguan consulate. 


We are currently in Los Angeles, which is a mix of work and play.  Two of my favorite people live here, a blog to come soon on this!

June 22, 2014

Camping in Nicaragua

I immediately regretted that Cassie and I moved to Nicaragua without a tent.  Others had informed us that there were not many camping options to be found so it had not made our list of items to bring.  However, over time we found out that in fact there were places to camp, so soon we were able to get a tent brought down and have been putting it to use ever since.  


It should be noted that it is not recommended to camp on isolated locations.  We always camp in national parks or on the grounds of reputable hostels and have found this to be both comfortable and safe.

Just in case you may be looking for a good option to get outdoors, we thought we would share our experiences and recommendations.  Here are a few of the places that we have stayed and would recommend:

Finca Magdalena, Isla de Ometepe - At just $3 dollars per night, per tent this is the most economical deal that we have found in Nicaragua.  It is located on the base of Volcan Maderas and is a great night’s sleep before the big hike.  We stayed here with Cassie’s brother and sister and could not believe that we only had to pay 75 cents per person.



Matildas, San Juan Del Sur - At Matildas you can basically set your tent up within a ten second walk to the surf.  This place is wonderful and just happens to be located on my favorite beach in Nicaragua.  The cost per tent is $5 a night and this gives you access to their bathrooms and cooking facilities.



La Bastilla Ecolodge, Jinotega - This ecolodge is located on the edge of the largest rain forest in Central America.  It is a bit difficult to get here, but the views, the hikes through their coffee farm and the experiences you will have with the nature surrounding the lodge will make it worth your trip.  The cost is $10 per tent, per night and they even provide you tents if needed.  Just be careful to not set up your tent on an ant hill.  We paid for this!


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If you use one of their tents, they will even decorate the inside!

Somoto Canyon – Fausto, our friend and tour guide recently acquired a tent that he will gladly set up in the canyon for guests.  He grew up in the canyon, knows the secret spots and will provide a safe and enjoyable time.  He is recommended in the Moon Guide and his direct number is: 505-8643-3972

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Pajaro Azul, Laguna de Apoyo - At the "Blue Bird" you can set up camp along the banks of a volcano's crater for only $4 a night per person.  The place is wonderful and we have been the only guests there during our visits.



Camino del Gigante Hostel, Playa Gigante, Rivas – For only $3 per person, per night, this is another cheap option that allows you to set up right on the sand.  You can enjoy a weekend away in this isolated and peaceful little beach community and grill-up the local catch of the day


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Rancho Esperanza, Jiquilillo - The rancho is a nature lovers destination as one will find themselves camping in the Padre Ramos estuary. This is a good place to enjoy the Nica life, go for a swim, surf, read a book from their expansive library or engage in one of their on-going community projects.  The cost is $5 per person, per night and allows you to access all facilities.


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Finca Neblina del Bosque, Miraflor – This finca is located in Nicaragua's only cloud forest.  The place is gorgeous and the vegetarian food that they serve up, which is all grown on their farm, is amazing.  The cost is $8 per person, per night.


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El Chocoyero, Masaya - Chocoyero is a natural reserve just an hour's bus ride from the capital.  Birds nest here, there is a waterfall and the workers are always excited to see you.  Oh and the best part, you can camp!  Cost is $5 per night, per person.



The above tent belongs to our friend Estevan.  You could seriously park a car inside.


June 15, 2014

Life Lately

The following is a glimpse of our life lately, in photos and words.

“Whatever you appreciate and give thanks for will increase in your life.”

                                                                                  -Sanaya Raman


Miss Noehlia was born a couple of months ago to our friend Onieda.  She came into the world a month early, twelve hours before her scheduled baby shower.  Despite this, she and her mom came to the Duckling themed baby shower that we hosted for them.  She is a beauty!


We continue to enjoy our friendships with our neighbor kids.  Here we are making a “zebra” cake that my mom brought down.  These girls are great, but four in the kitchen can be quite busy!

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We apologize for the poor photo quality, but these are some pictures from us sleeping outdoors due to the hundreds of earthquakes and aftershocks that we experienced in April.  We were glad to have friends stay over with us and teach us good earthquake safety.


Last month we came across an amazing Mexican Restaurant, we have been back two more times and dream of it often.


We enjoyed a visit to our friend Sugey’s home.  She and her family live an hour outside of Managua, but in a community that is quite difficult to get to in public transportation.  She was our friend who got married last year.


Ana is one of eighteen students that we are teaching this semester.  We visited she and her dad, who was a previous student of ours in their lovely home.  We enjoyed an afternoon of conversation and great food.


Our friends from La Concha came to our house for a visit.  We ate delicious homemade pizza (made by Kevin), enjoyed chatting and playing badminton.


Kevin shares his birthday with our host brother Isaac.  We have celebrated together for the past three years.  Here they are with their Cars piƱata.


We celebrated Kevin’s 31st birthday in May.  The day was full of hiking, birds, coffee and delicious food.  Here he is enjoying bibimbap at a newer Korean restaurant in Managua.


In our Social Development class that we recently finished, each student had to develop a community project that would respond to the needs in their community.  Pictured above are Ana and Juan, they are responding to their communities needs by creating jobs through a sewing cooperative and sports program for kids to encourage school attendance and building healthy relationships within the community.


Here is a normal day at the office – working on a presentation for class, while sipping on coconut water.  Can I just say that I love living in Nicaragua?


Last month, we and our MCC team headed to Ometepe Island for a team retreat.  We enjoyed three days together on this amazing island.  This was the fantastic view from our hotel.


We enjoyed more coconut drinking.


This is a view of Volcan Concepcion.  We are hoping to hike this someday.


And here we are at Ojo del Agua.  Poor Yolanda doesn’t know that she is about to get pushed in.


Pictured above is our amazing group of co-workers celebrating at an engagement party.


We were sad to say goodbye to our first Nicaraguan friend David.  He recently left his work with MCC to work as the country director for another NGO.  We met him at orientation and he has been a wonderful friend ever since.  We are happy that he continues living in Nicaragua and that we can still see him on a regular basis.


Aleesia is my all-time favorite Nicaraguan girl.  This sweet lady has been a part of our life since day one here, she melts my heart every time we hang out.  Look at how she has grown.  This photo was taken when we celebrated her third birthday!


The Giusto family has been a wonderful support to us during our time in Nicaragua.  Here we are on a Friday night, eating pizza and enjoying each others company.  Fresh baked from Pricemart!


At the end of May, we hosted a baby shower for our neighbor friends Oscar and Gilma who are expecting their little girl at the end of June.  We had a fun party and enjoyed celebrating this little girl.  Rumor has it that her name is going to be Cassandra.  I am trying to discourage this, but also feel honored.


We started up a new trimester in the beginning of June.  We are teaching a class called the Culture of Peace and are looking forward to how we will learn and grow.

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We celebrated Dia de la Madre, a very important holiday in Nicaragua.  If you are out on the streets, you will see lots of roses, people selling cakes and other sweet treats for the women in their lives.  We assembled bouquets of flowers for our Nicaraguan Mama’s, co-workers and the mom’s in our neighborhood.


My sister’s roommate Mary was traveling through Costa Rica and Nicaragua.  We enjoyed spending an afternoon with her at our home and in El Crucero at a coffee farm and friend’s house.

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I love Noel’s face in these photos.  We were visiting his home and he wore an I Love MN t-shirt for me that he found at a local thrift store.  It made my day! 

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I attended a nutrition workshop through my work at AMC.  It was a fascinating day of learning, combined with lectures and hands-on practice.


We had not been to a baseball game in quite some time, so we went to a double-header last weekend.  The Boers were playing San Fernando in their tournament time.  Can’t beat an afternoon of baseball!

Thank-you for checking in on how life is for us in Nicaragua.