Volleyball Updates From Nicaragua
Today has been CRAZY! we officially head back to the United States today. We woke up, grabbed our packed breakfast and arrived at the airport by 4:30 am. Our breakfast consisted of three pieces of bread with a single slice of cheese and ham and a different type of juice we were not used to. We're all about trying new things, but several of us ended up eating breakfast at the airport. We arrived in the airport and boarded our plane by 6:15 am. Even though we've been dreading this day the whole trip we went home with sunburnt faces, a habit of unintentionally asking/answering everything in Spanish, and memories that will last a lifetime.
The flight leaving Nicaragua was followed by a 5-hour layover in Houston. This left plenty of time to reminisce and laugh at some of the memorable moments that stood out during the trip.
As soon as we were asked our most memorable moment several answered the service work portion of the trip. Lizzy Stivers and Kenzie Crawford loved the hours of being chased by the little kids with the brightest smiles even though they were doing something so simple. Kelli Browning and Ashley Jansen shared a special bond with single students. Ashley said she has never had a hug quite like the little boy Steven gave. Kelli went to an actual house (even though we aren't suppose to) and was shown the little boys most prized possession, his dog Linda. It was a humbling experience having the students be so loving and accepting of us. One memory we all can agree with is Melanie Jereb's memory. Her favorite moment of the trip is when we were at the school with four different buildings filled with children from ages 5-9. She stood and took a break for a single second and just absorbed the moment. In that moment she looked around at the 90 kids screaming and running around trying to tackle us as were sun burnt and dripping of sweat from the 98 degree weather, yet all of us had a twi\nkle in our eyes and smiles going from ear to ear. All of us can agree the service part of the trip was the most gratifying and fun experience during our trip in Nicaragua.
Besides the service portion of the trip, the little details of being in Nicaragua were our favorite. I can speak for everyone that it was a blast getting to ride in the back of a truck everywhere. Even though the facilities weren't the best we have played in, it was still an experience we won't forget. I know from now on there won't be many complaints about the gyms we play in. Even though the outdoor courts were difficult to play volleyball at times, it was still a great experience watching the sunset with the music blaring in the back ground as we played a sport we all love.
Throughout this trip, we all have gotten a closer and learned some new things about each other. Kirsten told us several times about how the letter "D" is her favorite letter. Never, ever try to kiss Amanda Foje on her arm when she is not feeling well, she will snap. (Or at least at the boy that tried this). Yes the boys on the street would do this, Angie would love walking a little distance behind and just observe the matrix moves we do to avoid the kisses. My teammates also figured out how often I lose my phone and wallet. Thank goodness I have wonderful teammates like Michelle Sicner to find it in a fruit snack box one of the multiple times this happened.
Whether it was zip lining and surfing to hanging out and giving the children school supplies, everything we did was a memorable experience. There is nothing that warms your heart more than hearing the little boys and girls laugh and be thankful for the school supplies you have given them. Many of the teachers had been without paper and crayons for months. Hearing that, it makes you step back and realize what really matters in life and how blessed we are to be living in the United States.
We cannot be more thankful and grateful for all of our supporters, boosters and everyone who has made this trip possible, it was truly a trip of a lifetime. It's a sad goodbye to Nicaragua, but it's a little easier knowing we made a difference.
Now I'm off to drink a huge glass of water filled with ICE CUBES!! Thanks for tuning into our blog every day!
Above is what we would have liked happen. I wrote that blog before out flight from Houston to Omaha.
This is what actually happened with our flights. We started out sitting in the Houston airport for our 5 hour layover which eventually turned into 3 delays, 3 gate changes and finally we were able to board the plane. The greatest part of the flight back to omaha is it only lasted about an hour and a half because we flew halfway to omaha turned around mid-air and flew right back to the Houston International Airport. We patiently waited at the gate for about 20 minutes until we received the wonderful news that our flight had been cancelled due to maintenance problems. We rushed to services to fill as many Omaha flights as possible. Maggie, Megan, and Mel all headed off to Chicago. Katie and Kate ended up catching a plane to Kansas City. And that left the rest of us on flights scattered throughout the day tomorrow. Most would look at this as a negative situation, but hey we got $21 of vouchers, a free hotel that gives out complimentary cookies and ENGLISH TV tonight. Doesn't get much better than that (:
Day 7: It's our last day here in Nicaragua. We had an early rise as we left the beautiful beach town of San Juan Del Sur to move on to the colonial city of Granada. While packing the bags on top of our bus, the "coconut man" rode by and we were able to buy a coconut to drink (a coconut filled with water).
It was sad leaving the beach, but Granada brought a whole different aspect of Nicaragua. Entering this upbeat, hectic and colorful city we became excited to do some shopping. But first stop was to a muy grande lake including 350 islands. Every island that we were able to see seemed to have a different purpose. One an entire island was owned by wealthiest family in Nicaragua, and we were told they only visited this resort looking island once a year. On another island resided wild monkeys that were rescued and placed in a more natural environment. We were able to watch the monkeys, it was incredible how human like they acted. Another island was dedicated for a cemetary. The boat tour lasted about an hour, and we headed to lunch after. Lots of us had hamburgers for lunch and they sure were tasty! They also made us anxious to get back to American food, the rice and chicken has been good, but steak and mashed potatoes sounds quite appealing.
After lunch we were given the afternoon to spend on our own. Some decided to go venture into the city right away while others got some rest. Dinner consisted of about 12 large pizzas, let's just say we has some extra for a post game snack. And then it was game time! The court was indoor unlike yesterday, but very hot and sticky! We battled the same team as last night except they had their three best players back. We had to work a little harder, and ended up with a 3-1 victory!
We got to experience the first rainfall that Nicaragua has had since December during our match. For about all of game two, no one could hear anything but pouring down rain on the metal roof of the gym. They said in the beginning of the trip that if it were to rain it would pour since it hasn't rained in such a long time, and it certainly did!
All in all, this trip has been absolutely incredible. The memories we made, the impact we were able to make, and the bonds that grew made this trip amazing. We are all off to bed now as we have a 4 am departure from Granada to catch our flight out of Managua. We can't wait to get back and share our stories about our trip.
Next stop: Omaha!
So we started off with another early morning here in San Juan Del Sur. Woke up at around 7:20 to eat some pancakes that were muy delicioso and followed that by getting ready to begin another day of service. Today the groups switched what place they were going to and because my group went to a preschool yesterday we were headed to the mobile library today! We hopped in the back of a truck like true locals and we were off. I'm not quite sure how these Nicaraguans can sit in the back without holding onto anything because coming from Nebraska we hung on for dear life as we went at what seemed like a 90 mile per hour pace!
After a long dusty ride we finally arrived at our first school! There were around 30 kids at this school and each one of them had the biggest smiles on their face as we pulled in. Although I'm not quite sure if it was because of us or because they were getting to exchange the book that they had received in November for a new one (I'm going to go with the first one so I feel better about myself). When they exchanged their books they were free to come outside and play with us! They had a swing set outside which I was involved with throughout the duration of our time there. I think I along with some of the others in my group broke the world record for the longest amount of time pushing a single person on a swing. It was hard to stop because of how happy they were to be playing with us which also made it hard to say goodbye after and hour or so. We said our "adios" and were off to the next and last school.
This school had 3 or 4 buildings and 3 classrooms of around 30 students in each!! We were greeted with an even warmer welcome as we were screamed and cheered at when we drove though the gate. The children's faces were pressed against the gated doors of the classroom grinning from ear to ear just waiting to come play outside with us. As soon as their teachers gave them the okay to go outside it was like a bees on honey (us being the honey of course).
We played outside with them forever. We played frisbee, we taught them how to play mingle, and their favorite game... Chase Kenzie around in circles till you catch her. I'm not quite sure how they enjoyed this game but watching me sprint in circles screaming would probably be a sight to see. After a couple of hours of playing under the sun another sad goodbye was in place and we were off back to the hotel.
Lunch was well-deserved after a long day of playing with the kids, but we had to be cautious of what we ate since both Amanda Foje and Kelli Browning got sick last night from lunch the day before. So we took the American way out and got pizza. Shopping for more souvenirs for our loved ones back home was in need after we ate our delicious pizza and after that came a well-needed nap.
After resting our bodies for a while we walked over to the outdoor concrete volleyball court to play the Nicaraguan Jr. National team yet again but this time was against their better players. Loud Latino music was playing in the background, a lot of spectators were watching and a beautiful sunset was displayed in the sky above the ocean across the street. We ended up winning but playing well wasn't really what was on our minds after the game. We had just got to play in an amazing atmosphere that most people will never get the chance to do. It's sad that it is our last day in San Juan Del Sur and our second-to-last night in Nicaragua, but we are so blessed to have this amazing opportunity and will come back to Nebraska with a new mindset and different priorities that will make not only better teammates but better women.
Check out this link for more info on some of the places that we have been doing service: http://sanjuandelsur.org/newton-sister-city-project-one-school-at-a-time/
And more about San Juan del Sur here: http://sanjuandelsur.org/
Buenas tardes from San Juan Del Sur!
We all woke up to our normal routine of hauling ourselves to breakfast to make it on time for our 8:20 departure. We knew that today would be different than the rest. Instead of the relaxing vacation life style, we quickly moved into focusing on service.
We split into two groups- one went to play with kids at a preschool and my group and I had the opportunity to deliver books to two different schools in the San Juan Del Sur area. When we first arrived at the school the children were very intimidated of us, but it didn't take them long to warm up. Most of the children were between the ages of 8 and 9. One boy was very helpful because he was fluent in English. He told us how his father was born in North Carolina and how he was only allowed to talk to him in English. I don't know what we would've done with out his translating skills. As some of the kids picked out their books, we started to play frisbee with the others. Our innocent game soon turned into a game of tackling and fighting over the frisbee.... so we decided to try and teach them some other games such as, Duck Duck Goose, Red Light Green Light, Head Shoulders Knees and Toes and of course the usual game of tag. Lizzy Stivers was the Queen at tag and kept the kids running around.
We soon left and headed to the next school. This was quite the ride getting there, seeing as we were sitting in the back of a pick up going 60 miles an hour on dirt roads. Like Leah said, we were practically on a roller coaster. When we got there we once again let the children pick out their books, and then set up a game of baseball which the kids were surprisingly good at. Baseball is the sport of choice here in Nicaragua. Most of the kids at this school were 7-9, but there was one 3-year old and one 15-year old. At one point, I was sitting down when a little girl sat down about a foot away from me. About 30 seconds later she was sitting right next to me, clinging on to my arms and legs. All the kids wanted to be held and they loved the attention. Kelli Browning was the master at braiding hair and Katie Thompson let her baseball skills shine.
After volunteering at the schools we headed back closer to the hotel to walk around and grab some lunch. At 1:30 we headed out to a non-profit organization that our tour guide is the founder of. We were paired up and taught English to our "buddy". I'm pretty sure Ashley Jansen and her buddy spent more time back and forth between the book table and their spot than actually reading their books.
The last part of our day was spent at a beautiful resort to watch the sunset and swim in the pool. We were then spoiled to a nice buffet dinner and dessert. All in all today was another great day here in Nicaragua!
P.S. I want to give a huge 21st birthday shout out to my brother, Nate and let's not forget my mom's birthday is tomorrow too, love you both!
It’s day 4 here in Nicaragua, and the whole day was quite an adventure! Some of the team left the hotel this morning at 7:15 am to go hike to the top of a nearby hill that had an enormous statue of Jesus at the top (it looked like the statue in Rio!). From the top you could see the view of all of San Juan del Sur, the beach town we are currently staying at. I heard the hike was worth it from Melanie Jereb because of how beautiful the view was from the top. Jereb said, “it was super steep cobble stone path and I really huffed and puffed the whole time but it was a great experience.”
The rest of the team woke up shortly after to amazing food prepared by the hotel Casa Blanca. We had a choice of Nicaraguan style breakfast, an American style, or the special of the day. I was feeling a little adventurous so I decided to try the Nicaraguan style breakfast!
The first adventure that the team got to endure was the zip-line canopy tour. This was probably an experience that we will never forget. This is the longest canopy tour in Nicaragua it is located five minutes from the beach town that we are staying in. All together the tour is 2.5 kilometers of zip-line. The nature and the views were amazing. We were able to see some monkeys and some crazy big ants that looked to be the length of a dime! Luckily we all made it out alive without any injuries and almost bug bite-free.
Following the zipline we headed to another local beach where we traveled in the back of pickup trucks. This was a fun ride for us to experience since I think attempting to ride in the back of pickup trucks would be a bit frowned upon back in Omaha =). And then wait for it………………….we got to spend 5 nice and sunny hours at the beach building bonds, swimming, journaling, and best of all learning how to surf. I have to say that for volleyball players, and even the coaches, we looked like pros. Jessica Bird, Kelli Browning, Ashley Jansen and Amanda Foje made friends with a parrot while we were at the beach. The parrot was the life of the party. Its main word was Hola, Hola, Hola.
A fun fact that Coach Booth shared with me is that the neighboring beach was closed down today because the show Survivor is currently being filmed there. I thought that was pretty cool to know.
We ended our day with dinner and a night of fun with our tour guide Brooke. I would have to say that we are feeling really grateful and blessed to be able to have this opportunity to travel, play volleyball, and build stronger bonds. The next blogger is Amanda Foje so stay tuned for more news on Creighton Volleyball Team from Nicaragua!
Leah Ashanti McNary