imageRing, ring, went the sound of my alarm this morning as I dragged myself out of bed. Surprisingly, I had a deep and restful sleep despite the fact I was leaving my family for 18 days to embark on an adventure with a group of wonderful high school students.

5am at JFK is surprisingly busy time especially since it took almost an hour to get through security! This was the perfect time for the students to meet, mingle and make new friends.

One final headcount and we were off to Miami where we would connect with our second flight to Nicaragua.

Rushing through Miami’s International airport to connect to our flight to Managua – oh, oh it’s really a far walk! Made it on time and now we’re off…

The humidity hits us as soon as we exit the plane. Oh yeah, we’re in Nicaragua.
Managua’s airport: modern, sleek, and affordable. Denis and Chelsea, our trip coordinators, greeted us with a colorful sign saying “Bienvenidos!” So great! We said our hellos, filled our bellies and now we’re off for our 2-hour bus ride to Matagalpa!

The ride to the mountains reminds me of how special Latin America is. The old American school buses reinvented and macked out with their colorful paints, lights, horns and blaring music. The people running around the roads selling everything from empty oil barrels, to livestock to plantains. The mixture of carts, bikes, cars, trucks and pedestrians all playing this intricate dance hopefully avoiding a trip to the emergency room. How contradictory is this chaos for us Americans who thrive on rules and structure.

The Hotel Castillo is this small 3 story building nestled on a hill in Matagalpa. There is an adorable patio where we will have all our meals and run our meetings. Since Nicaragua’s 3rd largest city is ensconced in the mountains the temperature here is pleasant and refreshing in contrast to the blaring heat of the capital, Managua.

Chelsea and Denis are fantastic. Not only are they young and energetic – perfect to motivate this tired, old chaperone 🙂 but they really led the kids in motivational and thoughtful discussions. After a delicious dinner we were all ready to crash. Certainly, I had reached my threshold. I needed to sleep! Apparently, however, I underestimated the kids since they all got their second wind and were running around their rooms excited to be in a new country with all these new friends. Poor Sharon had to be the bearer of bad news and send them off to bed so they would be ready for their first full day in Matagalpa.

Night, night from us on Day 1. We are all happy and excited to begin our quest for leadership, collaboration, knowledge and fun.

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