Our day began with a earlier start than the day before as to fit in all the exciting adventures to come! Although some girls requested an even earlier wake up, by 7:00 am, everyone had risen from their bunk beds and began to get ready. We were all off and on our way to breakfast with our swimsuits under our clothes by 7:45 am. With much excitment in the air for what was to come, we finished quickly and took our walk back to the hostel.
We hopped on the bus slightly later than planned, about 8:45 am and within a half hour or so we had made it to our first destination! We were at a beach that connects to a river, one that we would be traveling through in boats to experience a tour of the Mangrove trees! After a short introduction by one of the boat guides, we walked part way down the water to arrive where it was deep enough for the boats to travel off and we all split into groups on three seperate boats. The ride was very warm and humid but so much fun! We traveled at a slow pace so we were able to take in as much as possible. The mangroves were extremely interesting, along this specific location there were three different species of mangroves, all of them are nature’s way of filtering the river/ocean water. One of them filters the salt out of the water and as a result, their leaves have a salty residue which you can even taste by licking the leaves!
We continued our tour and soon we came upon an iguana! Although it was very hard to see because their appearance blends in perfectly with the mangrove trees, all the boats stopped until we were able to spot the amazing creature. We continued on with our tour guide’s dog running along side the shore confused as to why she too wasn’t in the boat with us. It was adorable. Eventually we came upon a small pier-like location in the river and a tour guide was holding a baby crocodile! Now I will be very clear that as soon as I heard there was crocodiles in this water I immediately had second thoughts about this whole boat tour as well as it being defined as “fun.”However, even I was amazed by the tiny creature, its scaly skin was actually fairly smooth to the touch and although its eyes looked very unhappy having been captured for this moment, we were all in awe of the beautiful animal.
After releasing the crocodile back into the water, our boats returned to the small pier and we all climbed out. We walked a little ways down a little path in the middle of tons of vegetation and soon made it to a private beach. Once we were told by our red-cross volunteers that the water was safe we began to splash around in the waves and write words with our toes in the sand. However, it was soon time for lunch so we made our way back down the river. Only this time the boats sped up, creating a very pleasant breeze on our sweaty faces, back to the beach. We made it back on the bus and our excitement grew at the idea of food.
We quickly made it to a restaurant right on the shore of another beach and sitting on the second level of the restaurant, we had a gorgeous view of the water. Lunch was truly amazing! We had multiple courses: salad, pasta with meat and vegetable sauce and an incredible flan dessert. It was such a treat! We had to wait 30 minutes after eating before getting into the water but boy was it worth it! We all dropped off our stuff and ran near the beach volley ball nets and the fun continued. Some people played an altered version of volleyball, others splashed in the water amazed by the strength of the waves, while some stayed near the restaurant enjoying the hammocks and nice weather.
By 4:00pm we were back on the bus, some of us quickly falling asleep while others sang along to the songs on a group created playlist. Once back at the hostel we had an hour before dinner and as many people fit in a shower as possible, though sand still lingered on all of us. After dinner, we had a seminar for the next day’s subject: Living on a dollar a day. The facts were very eye opening and educational and like every part of this trip, our appreciation for how lucky we all are really grew. After a quick nightly meeting part of the group began the dollar a day challenge and all lights went off while about eight of us made our way to a play dealing with patriarchy, gender roles and domestic violence. It was really moving and intense. By 10:30 pm, we made our way back to the hostel for the night. Quickly after this, we were all in bed and asleep and for the first time, as part of the challenge, we were without fans!!
Today was filled with lots of adventure and tons of fun; it was yet another experience I know we will all remember for the rest of our lives.
P.S. To Mom, Dad and Adela, we love and miss you very much and you will be hearing from us on our next free day! Hope you are all doing well!