Day 2 has been hot, beautiful, and filled with lots of bonding for the M1A Matagalpa crew!

We woke up, got our first taste of gallo pinto (mixed rice & beans, a Nicaraguan staple) at breakfast, learned a bit about the indigenous people of Matagalpa from an archaeologist & our first guest speaker of the day, Carlos, and then headed out for a city tour. Our amazing program coordinators Alex & Juliana showed us some important historical sites throughout Matagalpa, talked us through some brief Nicaraguan history, helped us get a sense of the geography of the city, and — much to the kids’ delight on a hot, humid morning — bought us all ice cream in the park and showed us the best places for delicious Nicaraguan iced coffee!

Aside from ice cream & an iced coffee break in the afternoon, another big highlight for many of the travelers was getting to hear from Sandinista revolutionary Sonia Hernandez about her tremendous contributions towards attaining freedoms for modern Nicaraguans that were severely limited for non-elites under former leaders and governments. We all rode a bus to the top of one of the many green hills surrounding Matagalpa city and in the most beautiful, panoramic setting got to hear her share her story of becoming a Sandisista as a teenager after seeing and personally experiencing extreme persecution by the government against Nicaragua’s poor people and young people who were being denied basic freedoms such as access to education. Some tears definitely fell among us leaders, Sonia, and the students as she told us about the many struggles and losses she has faced in her life, but also about the triumphant progress and societal accomplishments she has helped create in her country throughout the past 4 decades. In the photo you can see us all huddled around her in the outdoor area where we got to hear her awesome story of personal strength, patience, & perseverance.

This evening we enjoyed dinner and some group reflections by candlelight during which we all talked through the things we’ve seen and done so far. The travelers then spent their free time before bed playing games and talking with one another on the top floor of the hotel (and put themselves to bed promptly at 10 without even having to be asked!). They’re looking forward to an excursion tomorrow to visit some women in a nearby town who make natural, handmade jewelry, followed by some fun free time at a river and waterfall called Cascada Blanca.

Check back tomorrow evening for pictures and updates about our day 3 adventures!