World Challenge 2017 – Nicaragua
Yet another year and yet another adventure for this year’s World Challenge team of 2017 who embarked on an expedition to Central America. After two years of hard fundraising the team of 8 boys and 1 girl jetted off to Nicaragua at the start of the summer holidays for a three week adventure.
Landing in busy Managua, the capital city, after 33 hours with little sleep soon brought the team back to reality with an overload of scenes. Travelling to the Spanish colonial city of Granada, the team were able to settle into expedition life planning some treks up active volcanoes, trying the local staple rice and beans alongside buying some brightly coloured baggy pants (and that includes the boys).
Our first few days saw us visiting and trekking some of the most active volcanoes in the world, alongside seeing local traditions such as clay pot-making and other handy crafts. We then travelled to Ometepe Island located in Lake Nicaragua where we summited the second highest volcano in Nicaragua. The team were proud to be the only World Challenge team this season to make the summit as a whole. What they didn’t know was the biggest challenge was yet to come … using public transport to travel a large length of the country to our next city Leon in the north west. Ferries, chicken buses, taxis and mini buses were combined for the 6 hour crazy journey, with locals trying to sell us belts and sunglasses to Spanish music and buses honking their horns all the way. Once in Leon we enjoyed exploring the local streets and markets and preparing for our next trekking phase: four volcanoes in four days. The temperatures and humidity were high, making the trekking hard work but the team kept close together and we pushed on successfully, completing all four volcanoes in one of the quickest times the local guides had seen. Each volcano was different in shape and vegetation, depending on when it erupted last, with some locals risking their lives living at the foot of them as the farm land is so fertile.
One evening we camped in the garden of a local villager where they cooked their traditional food and played not so traditional music (a big eye opener for the team to see how the locals live). Our third volcano supplied us with the opportunity to take the fast route down, volcano boarding 700 meters from the summit to the base. Dressed in full boiler suits with helmets, goggles and face masks, we all made the descent, some faster than others and some certainly more elegantly than others. Our last volcano was summited during the early hours of the morning, giving us the chance to experience the sunrise over Lake Managua and the iconic Momotombo volcano towering over its waters.
After all that volcano climbing we headed back to Leon where we visited the local cathedral, the oldest in Central America. It was pure white with amazing views of the volcanoes we had summited. We also visited a large art gallery with local and world famous art depicting stories of local and Central American interest. Alongside the sightseeing we also had the mission of buying DIY resources and equipment for our project taking place at a local primary school. The local DIY store was not quite as organised as we were used to and so a couple of hours went by whilst we negotiated with the local DIY chief.
Our welcome, the next day, at our project can only be described as a big party for us and the locals, with traditional dancing, piñata and pin the tail on the horse. Fizzy pop and cake was all enjoyed before our team had to demonstrate something back to our hosts. You guessed it: they went with the ‘Hokey Cokey’ attempting to explain the moves using limited Spanish, which made all involved laugh out loud!
The rest of the week was spent helping the local builders put a new roof on a new classroom, tidying and clearing the land around the school alongside the artists in the team painting numbers, letters and murals on the classroom walls. The team spent time playing games with the school children and practising some basic Spanish with the teachers. The staff at the school were overwhelmed by the many resources and gifts the team presented and could be seen using some to support their teaching. After all that hard work at the project and long days trekking, the team booked into a relaxing hotel with a pool for the final night where they enjoyed some luxury food and some well-deserved R and R. They even got to dip their toes in the pacific ocean. So another year and another very successful expedition all made enjoyable thanks to the hard work of the students before and during the experience.
Again I would like to take this opportunity to thank all of you – parents, family, friends and staff – who support and encourage the individuals who take on this life-changing adventure. I know you will continue with your magnificent support, as our future teams travel to Nepal in 2018 and Sri Lanka in 2019.