By Tina Romenesko
Manuel, our guide, and the lovely Flavia met us at 8:00 for our kayaking excursion on Lake Nicaragua. The double kayaks offered us a stable entry into the second largest fresh water lake in Latin America. We began our journey exploring the calm estuaries of the Peninsula de Asese. Surrounded by water lilies and mangroves, we wove in and out and around small islands that are most likely the result of volcanic activity from 10,000 years ago. Now they are teaming with wildlife. My personal favorite sighting was two martin pescadores or kingfishers! Bigger and brighter than the North American variety, they filled the air with their cackling chorus, swooping and diving. I seemed to see them everywhere. Such dramatic birds. We also saw numerous egrets, tons of cormorants, a large black bird with a bright yellow tail that builds large pendulous nests, lots of dragonflies or libelulas (one of my most favorite Spanish words) and even a bright blue morpho butterfly made an appearance.
We eventually headed out toward our destination – about two hours away – the island of Zapongo. Our French hosts, Maruo and Rosalin, are creating a completely eco-friendly island paradise and we were fortunate enough to be their guests for the afternoon. Rosalin’s constant companion was an adorable capuchin monkey named Cashew. Over a delicious lunch consisting completely of local veggies and fish, they told us their dream of building a sustainable and community / culture friendly eden. They are in the process of building rooms, complete with bathrooms and patios, that look out over incredible vistas. Everyone employed on the island belongs to the same family and lives on a nearby island. Our hosts employ only local people to build, and buy all their food locally – as a way of winning the respect and trust of their indigenous neighbors. Its working so well that they now host classes for primary students and illiterate adults on Thursdays, employing a retired teacher to hold the classes. ” Sometimes we have 60 students on the island – learning to read and write”, shared Rosalin. The Ministry of Education recently heard about their project and donated books. The entire enterprise is inspiring on so many levels. We encouraged them to share their dream in their advertising – we had NO idea when we booked the tour that this was a sustainable, grassroots eco-kayak tour. What great luck. Their daughter Flavia books all the trips and studied eco-tourism in Australia. Perfecto.
We said a big thank you to Mombacho Volcano – the island’s backdrop which was unusually and gratefully in clear view all afternoon. On the boat ride back to Granada, we exchanged more stories and hugs. Look for a Yogatina Adventure on Isla Zapongo in 2013! They even have a great terraza that will easily fit 8 or 10 yoga mats! Amazing.
As we found our way back to Hotel San Francisco, the afternoon rainstorm hit. We opted for a horsedrawn carriage ride and tour of this beautiful colonial town to round out our day. We saw a wedding, a funeral, climbed the cathedral tour for great views of the city – and the surrounding countryside – and ended up at a Mother’s Day celebration on the Calle Calzada – the walking street. Otro dia increible en Nicaragua.
Tomorrow we head for the Masaya Mercado and then to Leon by 3 to begin our training with PINCC. We are feeling more and more comfortable in our Nicaraguan environment and ready to formally begin our medical mission work.