As we sit in our charming, tiny hostel rooms writing this, there is an absolute downpour outside.  Rain like never before surrounds a group of kids playing cards outside under an awning.  Warm rain and giggles.  We have arrived.  Nineteen kids made it, and nineteen passports made it with them.  Success!

What a wonderful morning meeting everyone at the airport.  And, to watch Christabel bravely navigate the journey on her own, meeting us later in Managua, brilliant!  (Leadership potential duly noted.)  Many thanks to the visibly nervous parents who hugged their children and watched them take flight to another country; we and they are all very grateful for your willingness to provide them with this opportunity.  We are already in awe of our group, and we can barely contain our excitement for what this experience will bring.

As we waited in the airport this morning, we sat off to the side and watched the group organize themselves into “getting to know you” activities.  They initiated name games and took turns naming their favorite things, truly an impressive feat for a group of students who were just meeting each other at midnight in an airport.  It was so inspiring to watch the group begin to bond before we had even left U.S. soil.

The redeye flight was tough for this pair of old guy and gal, but not for the jovenes.  Youth have a way of sailing through uncomfortable situations.  Many Glimpsers, in the first of many nighttime reflective meetings that took place tonight, expressed their initial discomfort with the concept of flying, or the discomfort they experienced sitting in the middle seat on an airplane for 5+ hours, and yet they all managed like champs.  It’s impossible for us to complain about anything when in the presence of students like these, who were immediately faced with a potential negative, and yet refused to allow it ruin their day.  Many of us (kids absolutely included) operated today with little to no sleep, and the day was still an unbridled success.

Customs was a breeze, and we made it through with palpable excitement.  When we exited the airport, we were literally struck by a wall of thick humidity and heat, but we were easily distracted by the welcoming smiles of Brayan and Kirsten, our awesome in-country hosts.  They were well-organized and anxiously awaiting our arrival.  Upon meeting them, our suspicions were confirmed- we are in enthusiastic, capable hands.

Our exploration today took us to the Puerto Salvador Allende, a brand new tourist attraction still coming into fruition on the banks of Lake Managua.  We were startled by the incredibly bright, vibrant colors that adorned a majority of the surfaces and decorations at this new and exciting location.  It was a striking sort of experience for the first major attraction that we saw to so clearly demonstrate Nicaragua’s desire to improve itself.  All over the Puerto was emblazoned messages of hope and life, including the slogan, “Seguimos cambiando Nicaragua!”: We are still changing Nicaragua!

As everyone brushes his or her teeth and climbs into bed, we do so gratefully, having found ourselves in a wonderful, intriguing new land to explore, complete with equally wonderful guides.  Tomorrow, we truly begin our exploration of Leon!