To be honest, each day for Esteli 2 has so far been a highly valuable learning experience and certainly fun-filled, but today, Sunday 21st, was Esteli 2´s first official ´Fun Day´. Nicaragua has gained the nickname of the ´land of lakes and volcanoes´ and today definitely gave us an opportunity to sample both of these natural delights.
Another early start and breakfast at Buffet Esteli (omelette, toast and fruit juice) was followed by a bus journey southwards along the Panamerica highway to Volcan Masaya. This was a two and a half hour journey with a quick toilet and refreshment stop en route in San Benito. From the bus we were treated to attractive undulating mountain scenery and a look at Nicaraguan agriculture such as the rice and vegetable fields of the Sebaco Valley.
On arrival at the volcano´s crater, which for many Glimpsers was a first ever experience of visiting a volcano, we were surprised to see the great amount of smoke spewing out from this active volcano. This is a volcano with a grizzly past, with many critics of the Somoza dictatorial regime finding themselves thrown from helicopters into the abyss of the volcano´s crater. After having a good look at the rim of the crater, we hiked to gain an even more impressive vista of the volcano and its surroundings. We hiked to an extinct crater and came across a good number of national and international tourists that were also enjoying Volcan Masaya and its environs.
It was then on to Laguna de Apoyo, another popular tourist spot on the Pacific side of Nicaragua. The drive down to Laguna Apoyo is extremely impressive as one gets a sight of the azure blue lake and it´s heavily wooded shores, some home to howler monkeys. This is a popular spot for weekenders from Managua and Masaya, two large cities within 50 minutes of Laguna de Apoyo. We had a tasty lunch at ´The Monkey Hut´, one of a number of resorts scattered around the lake´s shore. It was then time for us to go for a swim, with many of the Glimpsers such as Sean, Amanda and Ally also trying their hand at kayaking. Angelic was one of several Glimpsers who enjoyed floating about on an inflated inner tube. We were accompanied by lifeguards from the Esteli fire brigade service, and they shared a great time with us in the lake.
It was then back northwards to Esteli. Many of our bus took a nap, whilst others chatted, enjoyed the scenery or listened to the music. On arriving back in our newly adopted hometown, our next port of call was the dining room of ´Buffet Esteli´, where we were given the opportunity to try the traditional Nicaraguan dish of a nacatamal. This dish, which is commonly eaten on a Sunday is cooked in a plantain leaf and consists of cornmeal, chicken, tomato, potato and onion. It was quite well received by the Glimpsers, and Nicaraguan Program Coordinator, Humberto gave it a thumbs up.
Tomorrow, Fran and Umberto have a very different day planned for us as it is ´Living on a $1 a day´ with Lupe standing up to the plate to be the leader of the day.
Adios y hasta pronto, Bryan.