Nicaragua is an undiscovered gem in the heart of Central America where few others travel. Get ready to be lifted off your feet by fast Latin rhythms as you walk through culturally colorful, bustling streets and savor the taste of sweet plantains! Pristine white sand beaches, deep crater lakes, epic volcanoes, butterfly filled mountains, tropical jungles, rich coffee lands, and some of the greatest biological diversity in the world.
The Nicaraguan people are strong, vibrant, and proud. They enthusiastically share their fascinating history and culture with travelers. Only a short flight from the United States, Nicaragua is one of the safest countries in all of Latin America. That is one of the reasons that Global Glimpse chooses to be the largest international youth travel program operating in Nicaragua. We pride ourselves on our strong network of national and local relationships that create an unmatched experience for our participants.
2017 Trip Dates
Leon 1A: June 7 – June 21 (Bay Area)
Leon 2A: June 10 – June 24 (Bay Area)
Leon 1B: June 29 – July 13th (Bay Area)
Leon 2B: July 3 – July 17 (Bay Area)
Leon 1C: July 20 – August 3 (Bay Area)
Leon 2C: July 24 – August 7 (Bay Area)
Leon is the belle of the ball among Nicaraguan cities. Its cobbled streets are lined with colorful, shingled homes, magnificent colonial churches, and bustling parks. Museums examine revolutionary and cultural history, poetry, legends, and art. From a historical and cultural perspective León is one of the most important cities in Nicaragua as it served as the country’s capital many times throughout history. Prior to the Spanish conquest, the indigenous Sutiava tribe was the most culturally influential in the region and parts of Leon still preserves a strong indigenous character.
Leon is a hot, tropical city pulsing with music and surrounded by lush green farmland, beautiful beaches, and majestic volcanoes that offer limitless opportunities to experience Nicaragua.
The people of Leon are deeply proud of their city and political activism is a strong part of the culture in Leon. The best universities and medical institutions in the country are located here and bring a youthful energy to the city as students cluster in its many parks to share platanos fritos (friend plantains) or raspados (flavored ice) after class. Many festivals are held throughout the year to celebrate the dance and music of the Pacific Coast and commemorate the Leon student movement against the Somoza dictatorship in 1956.
2017 Trip Dates
Nestled in a river valley in the mountains of northern Nicaragua, Matagalpa is a friendly and bustling city with the alluring scent of coffee and fresh guirillas (sweet corn tortillas). The streets are filled with jingling ice cream carts and children gather in the evening light to play soccer or race along the narrow streets.
The city itself is located at an elevation of 700 meters and the cool cloud forest climate differs significantly from the hot, tropical climate of the Pacific lowlands. There are few foreigners here, however it is not uncommon to see a mix of Indigenous and European decent in the Nicaraguan people due to the influx of Europeans who brought coffee to the region and settled in the 1800s. Matagalpa offers the opportunity to become truly immersed in Nicaraguan culture and to learn how the international coffee industry affects the lives of millions around the world.
The people of Matagalpa are friendly, open, and very proud to be Matagalpinos! The typical food is guirilla con cuajada (soft sweet corn tortilla with cheese) and the traditional music and dance is tied to coffee production and harvest. The feeling in this mountainous city is a bit more laid back due to the cool climate and more secluded nature of the city. Delicious coffee is everywhere and the coffee culture is transforming to adopt more organic production methods such as collection of rainwater for irrigation, creating compost for natural fertilization, and the absence of pesticides.
2017 Trip Dates
Estelí is set on a high plateau and surrounded by breathtaking green mountains and cascading waterfalls. It was the first city to be liberated from the Somoza dictatorship during the Sandinista revolution of 1979 and the political energy and culture still resonates today. Commerce is much stronger in Estelí than in other parts of Nicaragua because of its location on the Pan American Highway. Tobacco, Coffee, and Cacao production are the strongest exports in the region and there are multiple universities within the city that bring youthful energy to the streets. The city has a more modern feeling than other cities in Nicaragua and it is known as the “City of Murals” because of the strong mural culture that developed after the Sandinista Revolution in the 1980s.
Estelí is known for its laid back, cowboy culture. The streets are lined with leather shops and people wear incredible, hand crafted and embroidered leather boots, belts, and hats. The city is very tranquilo (calm) and residents spend their Sunday afternoons drinking coffee on the stoop or discussing politics. People from Estelí are proud and joyful and they use art as a medium of expression and remembrance. The largest chalk mural in world history was painted in Estelí in 2005 by more than 2,000 children and the mural culture created over the past 20 years by local youth and artists brings a great vibrancy and beauty to an already lovely city.
2017 Trip Dates
Granada rivals Leon with its photogenic elegance as well as a rich and illustrious history. Established in 1524, Granada is the oldest European-founded city in Nicaragua, the second oldest in Central America, and the third oldest in the Americas.
Granada has been subject to many battles, invasions of pirates, and civil wars. The most significant was the American William Walker, who conquered Nicaragua and declared himself president in the mid-1800s. When Walker eventually fled the country, he torched the city of Granada and left the famous words, “Granada Was Here.” Many of Granada’s cathedrals and historic buildings are still fire-scorched.
Granada sits on Lake Nicaragua, one of the largest and most scenic lakes in the world. Its cobbled streets are lined with colorful, shingled homes, magnificent colonial churches, and bustling parks. In close proximity to Volcan Mombacho, Isla de Ometepe as well as Las Isletas, Granada attracts a number of travelers. However, Global Glimpse gives students the opportunity to dig beneath the surface of the tourist scene and experience not only the beauty of Granada, but the grit and resilience of those that truly call it home.
ABOUT DOMINICAN REPUBLIC
The Dominican Republic is a vibrant nation that breathes the heat and energy of the caribbean. The musical rhythms and bright colors of this beautiful island are deepened by the complex history of the island of Hispaniola, which you will begin to unravel as you walk through colonial streets and explore its mountainous terrain. White sand beaches, deep tropical jungles, mysterious mountains, and cascading waterfalls make the Dominican Republic a popular tourist destination, but tourists only touch the surface. On this program you will have the opportunity to dive into this fascinating country.
Dominicans are born dancing the latin rhythms of merengue, bachata, and salsa and carry the energy and passion of the dance into their daily lives.The Dominican Republic is a safe country serving 4 million tourists annually; though we avoid tourist heavy areas the country does have strong infrastructure and resources to support this industry.
DOMINICAN REPUBLIC PROGRAMS
SAN JUAN DE LA MAGUANA
2017 Trip Dates
About San Juan de la Maguana
Global Glimpse students will travel to San Juan de la Maguana, a Southwestern Dominican city full of life, history and the warmth of its amazing people. The city is rich with many ornate monuments and public spaces designed by their eccentric architect turned-mayor. Located about an hour from the Haitian border, San Juan is the headquarter city of one of the poorest provinces in the Dominican Republic, but one that boasts incredible history and culture, great need, and immense potential. Students will be staying in an urban hotel with small rooms of 2-4 people per room and private bathrooms.
The people, culture and and location of this city offer a symphony of learning and exposure to complex issues of development. History and culture are woven into local celebrations, art and music that celebrate their indigenous Taíno roots. The rural communities surrounding San Juan de la Maguana are have strong Haitian influence in the cultivation of the land and great investment in building stronger solidarity between the two countries. Traveling to San Juan de la Maguana you will be immersed in the realities of a globalized world; the beauty and challenge of living, growing, and envisioning change in the developing world.
2017 Trip Dates
Bonao is conveniently located midway between the capital of the Dominican Republic, Santo Domingo, and the “second city” of Santiago de los Caballeros. A lively city, Bonao is nestled in a valley in the center of the island and surprisingly overlooked by tourists. The Cordillera Central, the country’s largest mountain range, provides a magnificent landscape, waterfalls and lush vegetation. Different local and global business ventures provide employment for most of the population, including family-run coffee and cacao farms, mining at the multinational nickel mine or growing rice. Students will enjoy the community setting of eating, sleeping and teaching English classes at a suburban orphanage with private, dorm-style rooms for Global Glimpse’s use.
Bonao provides a rich setting for our students to experience local Dominican art and culture. Nationally renowned Dominican painter, Cándido Bidó was a Bonao native and founded the Cándido Bidó Cultural Center, which boasts beautiful murals, intricate mosaic work and captivating sculptures in the plaza. Cristian Tiburcio is another local artist who has spent the last 16 years covering every inch of his home (including the toilet and the blender) with intricate mosaic art. The first Dominican radio station, La Voz del Yuna, was founded in Bonao and is currently being revived as a historical site. The tension between local and global, rural and urban and old and new in Bonao provides an intriguing opportunity to expand global perspectives in the developing world.
2017 Trip Dates
About San Cristóbal
As the closest major city just West of the capital of Santo Domingo, the hardworking people of San Cristóbal are constantly on the move via guaguas (busses) that shuttle them to jobs in the capital or to cultivate the land in the nearby mountains. Infamous for being the hometown of the deceased dictator Rafael Trujillo, San Cristóbal is still overlooked by national and international tourism. Still, the city and surrounding areas boast many attractive sights and activities such as beaches, caves with prehistoric art and many lavish monuments, castles and buildings as reminders of Trujillo’s brutal rule. Students will have the opportunity to stay in dorm-style rooms at the training center of a national women’s agricultural movement in a rural village just outside of the city.
San Cristóbal dances the line between urban development and defenders of rural farmland and the rights of campesinos, or farmers. Local organizations dedicated to providing professional development to rural women and communities are based in the mountains while just 15 minutes away, international food such as pizza and sushi can be found in downtown San Cristóbal. The local culinary treat is the pastel en hoja, a delicious blend of mented cheese and meat wrapped in a doughy cornmeal exterior and a butcher paper package. Visitors to San Cristóbal will have a unique opportunity to navigate the tension produced by rapid development in the outskirts of the capital city.
2017 Trip Dates
Locally known as the Switzerland of the Caribbean, Constanza feels more like the alps than a Caribbean island. At 4,000 feet above sea level, it is the city with the highest elevation in the country, and it uses this temperate climate to cultivate 80% of the the agriculture (mainly strawberries, potatoes, apples, lettuce and garlic) and 75% of the flowers produced in the Dominican Republic. The small town is also famous for organizing a rebel attack against the dictator Rafael Trujillo in 1959 along one of its winding mountain roads. Constanza’s remote location has deterred most tourism, although the locals believe that the breathtaking views, impressive waterfalls and ecological reserves will soon turn Constanza into the next hub for national and international ecotourism. Students will enjoy exclusive use of a small family-run hotel at the entrance to town with an on-site restaurant serving some of the best food in Constanza.
Constanza is a cozy, intimate mountain community where everybody knows and interacts with everyone. Local softball games are the daily social activity, along with playing dominoes at the local colmado. Be prepared to adjust to the slower pace of life and revel in the beauty, charm but also the gritty realities of living and working in the capital of industrialized agriculture.
Sitting on the equator between Colombia and Peru, Ecuador boasts startling contrasts of scenery, astounding biodiversity, an impressive historical legacy, stunning colonial architectural and bustling highland markets with fresh-from-the-ground organic fruits (great for juices) like papayas, oranges, blueberries, mangoes, watermelons and pineapples (to mention a few!). What makes Ecuador unique is the interaction of 3 main regions: the Coastal beach life with Afro-Ecuadorians and mestizos (Spanish-indigenous), the Andes – South America’s version of the Swiss Alps – with stunning peaks reaching as high as 20,564 feet (higher than Mt. Kilimanjaro and not shy from Mt. Everest!), and the Amazon rainforest – the thickest most conserved jungle in the world; all housing over 10 ancestral Indigenous nations!
Ecuador is the only country where you will find a vast range of tribes, from hunters-gatherers in the Amazon rainforest, to highly sophisticated and technologically advanced pre-Incan tribes (Puruhás). It’s easy to see why Global Glimpse is excited to call Ecuador its newest destination. Students will explore the dynamic interplay between environmental preservation in a context of large economic investments, Indigenous efforts to preserve their ancestral knowledge and traditions, and new spaces of social and cooperative entrepreneurship in a highly-dynamic country. Ecuador is a true microcosm of South America and a thought-provoking and inspiring real world classroom for our students. Have we mentioned the food is incredible?
*Special Note: The city of Riobamba, Ecuador where we travel is located at an elevation of 9,035 feet (2,754 meters). Participants that select this site should be aware of the effect this may have on their physical health. Illness and fatigue is possible when traveling and recreating at elevations that are significantly different than what is typically experienced. If originating from a home elevation of less than 4,000 feet (1,220 meters), participants may experience side effects including, but not limited to, headache, lack of appetite and difficulty sleeping. Possible side effects can be prevented and/or managed with proper hydration, nutrition, rest and program planning. Global Glimpse has prepared itineraries at this site with consultation from medical and risk management professionals. The Global Glimpse staff is prepared to handle situations that may arise from discomfort due to extended time at higher elevations. Global Glimpse encourages all participants to seek consultation from a preferred medical professional prior to participation in any of our programs.
2017 Trip Dates
Riobamba is a city in the Andean highlands of Ecuador and is known locally as the “Sultan of the Andes”. Located at over 9035 feet from sea level Riobamba sits in a valley surrounded by several beautiful mountains and snowcapped volcanoes. Riobamba is a very safe city and because the city is off the beaten track it isn’t swarmed with tens of thousands of tourists like Quito and Cuenca giving the city a more authentically Ecuadorian feel and making it the perfect place for Global Glimpse students to immerse in local life and culture.
The capitol city of the Chimborazo province, Riobamba is home to the highest percentage of indigenous people in the country. Many indigenous communities surrounding the city travel to Riobamba to sell organic fruits and vegetables in the marketplaces wearing traditional clothing and trading in the local dialect of Kichwa. Riobamba consists of beautiful squares, pastel-colored buildings, cobbled streets and sprawling markets. Located in the center of the Ecuadorian Sierra with incredible views across the city to Volcan Chimborazo, the highest peak in Ecuador, Riobamba is a major trading hub with part of its appeal stemming from an incredible mix of city dwellers indigenous farmers, and students. Riobamba has earned the nickname “City of the Students” because it has more universities per capita than anywhere else in the country.