A loud snort to my right wakes me up. It is my friend Nolan snoring away under the humid air trapped inside the confines of the boys’ room. Reaching up to the top bunk, I nudge Evander to check the time. He grabs the watch and to our surprise, the alarm rings! For once in my lifetime, I had woken up on time, 30 minutes before the designated Wake-Up time for the rest of the group. I woke everybody else up and we get ready to go eat a hearty breakfast at Deja Vu to start off one of two free days that we have during this whole trip. Although there wasn’t a set schedule and everything did feel out of place at first especially without our Program Coordinators, Brayan and Elisa, we all definitely learned how to effectively use the hours of free time that we had.

             For the first interval of free time, a part of the group wanted to go join the locals in their Sunday mass at Catedral de Leon.

From the perspective of Tomi, the altar near the stage was very beautiful and the air was filled with the rusty yet smooth aroma of unfamiliar incenses. Although I decided to stay back at the Hostal to catch up on some summer reading, I talked to those who went and they said that even though they didn’t understand anything that the preacher was saying, the way the mass was run felt very familiar. An interesting thing that they were able to see on their walk back to the hostel was the contrast between this calm but somewhat mundane mass to that of an almost gospel lively ceremony that another church was holding.


Kyla and her chocolatey banana split!

              They returned from their trip and we gathered together to head over to lunch. Afterwards, we had 4 hours of free time . Four full hours! And how did we decide to spend our time? At Eskimo, an ice cream and arcade shop that is only a few blocks away from our hostel! It was a great contrast to the typical Nicaraguan food that we ate and it reminded some of us of home. I ordered a cookie cream milkshake that tasted amazing under the blazing heat. The others enjoyed icy wonders that ranged from banana splits to sundaes. Here is when the highlight of our day begins and when our competitive nature emerged.

With sweat dripping down our faces, we all competed in a small Air Hockey competition.

Nolan vs Evander in a heated match of air hockey!

Nolan vs Evander in a heated match of air hockey!

My opponent was Nolan and we were neck to neck for 3 games straight and he managed to pull through and finally beat me by only one point . The games were intense. The pucks became airborne numerous times and flew across the arcade room and even glided through the fence onto the sidewalk after a heated rally between Nolan and I! I enjoyed our time at the arcade because we truly bonded under the heat of competition while indulging in ice cream.

               There was a small marketplace across the street from Eskimo. Here is where Evander and Adrianna shined and acted as our translators. We all bought gifts for friends and relatives back at home that ranged from slingshots to small crafty coin pouches. It was my first experience using cordovas on something other than food and it was definitely a new experience. Kyla was even successful in haggling for some of her gifts!

                On our way back, we spotted a cyber cafe that was actually open on a Sunday and our destination for our next free time. Finally able to use the internet, a factor that I don’t exactly miss, most of us logged onto our Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and other social media networks. Nicaragua has definitely taught most of us to live without internet and this half an hour experience allowed us to catch up on the news back at home and tell our parents that we were healthy and fine. Except for me. For some reason, none of the social media sites allowed me to log onto my accounts without security verification. Not a big of a deal. I’d rather enjoy the Gallo Pinto anyways!

                 To conclude our first Free Day experience, we all learned how to act independently without the guidance of our Program Coordinators.  Today was definitely a new experience. We invested our time effectively towards just relaxing and getting our minds off of the usual eventful day and it allowed us to learn what to do on our “tiempo libre”.