Greetings! This is Mikayla and Aileen, and we are the Leaders of the Day for today!  Mikayla would like to give a shoutout to my mom, dad, brother and puppy Forest!

Aileen would like to give a shoutout to my baby brother (who I still don’t know the name of) and was born some time this week <3

Today, we typically would have spent an entire day shadowing a Nica high school student, however the students are on break for July.  So, that meant we got to have a “fun” day.

What’s a Global Glimpse idea of a “fun” day? Well, it involves driving two hours to a beautiful canyon, floating down a river, slipping on rocks, jumping off cliffs, sharing snacks with friends and leaders, supporting one another, and making memories that will last a lifetime!

Today we went to historic Somoto Canyon, one of Nicaragua’s most beautiful destinations for ecotourism.  Our day started at 5am, when we woke up and then woke up everybody else at 5:45.  This was hard because our previous day was super long and super exhausting.  Then we went on the bus and sat back down for a 2 hour bus ride to Somoto.

We had some special people on the bus with us that normally have not travelled with us.  First was Javier, the Assistant Director for Nicaragua for Global Glimpse.  We found out today that Javier is a talented guitarist and singer – but more on that later…

Also joining us were two local firefighters from Esteli, who were trained in CPR and First Aid – they volunteered their time today to be with us and made sure we were safe.  We are so thankful they could join us.

The other people joining us were the tour guides, all experienced swimmers and locals to Somoto Canyon.  The lead guide, Junior, has been taking people to the canyon 4 times a week for the past 6 years.  We felt supported and knew that they would be there if we needed help.  They were also very friendly!

We arrive at the Canyon, and we were not sure what to really expect!  As we got off the bus, we felt excited, eager to get started, and nervous because we were trying something new.

The first section of the trip was a long hike uphill, as we climbed over the small mountain that led us to the river.  The path was challenging, and we were very grateful to have all the adults around for support.

After about 20 minutes, the canyon finally came into view.  Our first thoughts were that it was beautiful, and that we were in awe.  If only we had our phones to capture that first glance!  It almost seemed photoshopped!

We then approached the water, and it felt cold, and the rocks were also very slippery.  The water was clean but it was hard to see the bottom and where we could plant our feet.  The current also at times was really rough, but we managed – we all had life vests on so we weren’t too worried!

And just when the rocks under our feet were making us frustrated, we got a chance to jump off a few cliffs! Some of us overcame their fears of swimming, or were afraid of heights, and conquered their fears right before our eyes! It personified the idea of Global Glimpse, as we each stepped out of our comfort zone and pushed to do something new.

Throughout the day, we thought about how local communities can protect natural places and still use them as sources of income.  A major kudos to Junior and his team, who made sure there was no trace of us having been there, and yet we still felt very comfortable!

For lunch, we had a great break from the comedor! We got to eat at a carne asada restaurant in Somoto where we had marinated chicken, beef, pork, along with lots of delicious sides!  We even got to pick out a soda from the cooler – it was a nice reminder of home, and a nice change from fruit juice (which is also yummy!)

We had the pleasure of enjoying our meal with Javier, and we talked about his journey with Global Glimpse.  He spoke about being a PC, and now being assistant director.  He also shared about his schooling, how he went to school for engineering, and his participation in his local church.  We had a great discussion about stereotypes that exist about Nicaragua, and how we can work to set the record straight in the United States when we return.

We are happy to report, that according to Javier, we are his favorite delegation in the 5 years he has worked with Global Glimpse! (::fist pump::)

Our fun day also involved some work, though! We still had eager Nicas back in Esteli that want to learn English, and so we quickly changed into our teaching outfits and met them at the local center.  Before we left for tutoring, Javier and John (one of our GG Leaders) played music in the common area for folks waiting to leave.  Javier played traditional Nica folk songs, and he sounded amazing! John played some Bob Dylan and Cat Stevens songs that he knew.

At the center, we didn’t have a strong turnout compared to previous days, however, the students who did arrive worked really hard and wanted to learn!

With only 6 days remaining here in Esteli, tomorrow we begin the Delivery phase of our Community Action Project, one of the most important responsibilities we have as Glimpsers.  Stay tuned for more updates on that – thanks for reading!