La Bastilla: The Last Reality Challenge

Today our magnificent band of merry men and women traveled to an Agricultural school called La Bastilla in the mountains of Jinotega. We all woke up around 4:00 o’clock in the morning, except for our leaders of the day, who woke up at 3:25 AM, and Kaelyn, Andy, and Ms. K, who had to stay at the hostel because they were either sick, injured or had to take care of people.

Everyone stumbled around in the dark for a while, gathering their clothes, water bottles, journals, backpacks and all other equipment needed for the day. Once every student had his or her materials gathered, they congregated in the dinning room to wait for a final head count before boarding the bus. Once every person was accounted for, we were shepherded aboard the bus by our trusty GG Leaders and our student leaders of the day. Everyone was very tired and sleepy, so we mostly slept on the bus. When we arrived at the mouth of the road to La Bastilla we met our first obstacle. Our bus could not drive on the muddy, rocky, bumpy and excessively rough road. So instead, we waited for a truck to come pick us all up.

When the truck arrived, we all piled into the back. The back of the truck was basically a large cage covered by blue tarps. Most people grabbed hold of the metal bars so they would not fall. It was a bumpy ride, to say the least. We drove for around 10 minutes, until we arrived at the first work station; cow stables and chicken coops. We were divided into 4 groups, with the first group; Alanna, Alisha, Frank and Evelin going to the stable and the second group; Kevin and Alyssa going to the chicken coops. Just so you know, everyone had breakfast around 7:00; it was cookies, cake, and fruit, yum!

Alanna, Alisha, Frank, and Evelin went to clean the cow stable, where we scooped up cow poop, washed and swept the stable, and emptied out the dry grass from the feeding stalls. Frank broke the broom we were using. We asked the students there a lot of questions. We found out that the school offers academic courses in the afternoon, from 1 to 5 PM. One student, name Eddy, told us that he was in English club. We also talked about what the students want to do in the future. A student named Jairo wants to have his own coffee farm after graduating from the school.

Kevin and Alyssa went into the chicken coop and collected eggs from the many, many chickens. They have 3,000 chickens at La Bastilla and collect 900 eggs a day on average. There were a lot of eggs! After hiking into a cow field and making some udderly unforgettable friends, Alanna, Frank, Alisha and Evelin went to help Team Chicken in the coops. We all collected eggs and then cleaned the poop, feathers, blood and other unknown substances fromt the eggs. We all learned that the unfertilized egg of a chicken is basically the product of chicken period (you know what I’m talking about ladies).

The other two groups went up to the school building. Anna, Murphy, and Carolyn visited the pig area. They got to know the pigs, they cleaned the cage (full of pig poop) and fed the pigs as well. They also swept the area and organized stuff around the cages. Afterwards they returned to the school building and joined Christian, Ravi and Susie who were making bread. They all pooled their amazing baking powers together and produced a 140 pieces of bread for the students of a nearby elementary school.

Daphne, Desiree, Troy and Vikram went to the gardening area. They worked on their agricultural skills, pulling weeds and fertilizing soil. They also broke the ground in order to prepare the soil for vegetable impregnation. They also picked up worms and christened them Fred, George and Justin Beiber. They also went on an adventure to the creek, to search for water to wash their hands. There Daphne and Desiree met 2 very important amphibians, Kermit and Bernie. Then, quite unexpectedly, Desiree slipped and fell into the creek. She got very wet, but that didn’t stop most of the Nicaraguan students from laughing. They also helped her up out of the water and she returned to the school building safe and sound.

Meanwhile, in Chicken land, Alanna, Kevin, Alyssa, Alisha, Frank, and Evelin had begun the long trek to the school building. We finally arrived after 30 minutes of sweating, heavy breathing, and many hills. After everyone met up, we all walked to the Ecolodge, a good 10 minutes away. When we arrived at the Ecolodge and all sat down, we were then greeted by Lina and Christine (who actually walked up the trail with us), the coordinators of the school. Lina told us about the school and answered all of our questions, such as; how successful are the school businesses? will the school ever be sustainable?

Then we all ate lunch; pork, rice, beans, and tortilla. After lunch we had some time to gaze at the beautiful mountain views of La Bastilla. We were also treated to a delicious traditional Nicaraguan dessert called buenollos. They were small balls of corn bread drenched in cinnamon goo and they were tasty.

Around 3:00 o’clock we returned to the Hostel. We came back tired and exhausted but with an overall feeling of accomplishment. We had a little bit of free time to prepare for our English tutoring classes. Some people slept and others played extremely intense and semi-violent games of Uno. Then dinner arrived, smelling delicious and looking even more so. Our leaders, Alanna (me) and Kevin began this blog entry and forgot to eat dinner. It was breaded chicken, gallo pinto (rice and beans) and salsa.

After dinner, we all congregated in the living room and began to count off.