SYRV Surf, Yoga, and Volunteer Trip - Nicaragua
We had three main objectives while in Jiquillio. First we tested water at various sites, two of which were elementary schools. Although they have nothing they were the happiest, most vibrant children we had ever met. We also gave a Clean Water presentation to teach the children about the impact of pollution on our oceans and earth. After we led the kids in a beach clean up, and they enjoyed it. They took the garbage bags out of our hands, led us along the beach yelling “basura” (garbage) and ran to collect as much trash as possible.
Before coming to Nicaragua each of the travelers had collected donations from family, friends, and co-workers at a cost of only $30 each to buy water purifiers. Most of the people in Jiquillio have to spend a third of their income to get clean water and the majority of them cannot afford it. Drinking the polluted water has led to illness and disease within the community. We realized how small and meaningful an act it was for us to provide these purifiers to poor communities.
We also visited the local orphanage where most of the children had lost their parents or entire families in Hurricane Mitch. Once again these children had so much joy, laughter and love to share, and we got individual hugs from each of them. Cameron taught them to play ukuleles which he brought to donate. The kids were overjoyed at the colorful instruments that would be theirs as they joined in signing and strumming.
After all the hard work the crew was ready to let loose, so we celebrated with the rest of the guests at Monty’s. DJ KK mixed up the beats and everyone danced until the wee hours of the night.
Our next stop, Chinandega, was one of the most difficult parts of our trip. The government puts the poor and displaced in their version of “The Projects,” small shacks lined up next to the city dump . Driving into the area the smell and dust was all consuming. These people have nothing and very little prospect of getting out of their current situation. All of the travelers had brought extra suitcases of donation clothing, and we also sponsored a lunch with the help of the local pastor. We set up our donation centre as the families lined up eager to get clothing and a good meal. It was an eye opening experience for everyone involved as our hearts ached for these people. It really changes your perspective on things. “When I think I’m having a bad day, [I’ll] just remember someone’s best day was getting a bowl of chicken foot soup,” Keala said.
Exhausted but motivated we next made our way to Playa Gigante, a charming town, with friendly locals and some of the best surf breaks in Nicaragua. With only two days we packed in as much as we could. At the town hall we donated more purifiers, and then the group split up to take the older kids on a beach cleanup while the rest stayed and taught the younger kids English.
Encinitas local Mateo was our host for both our volunteer initiatives and our surf adventures. From our accommodations at Giants Foot Surf Camp and Camino De San Gigante those that were up for it paddled out to Mateo’s boat to surf at Colorado’s, Panga Drops and Popoyo. Keala and Mateo braved the fast barreling peaks at Colorado’s while the rest of the crew surfed the big fat waves at Panga Drops and the Peaky A Frame waves at Popoyo getting to experience the best waves the coast had to offer.
Back at Camino De San Gigante we gathered to feast on amazing food prepared by Basque country native Pilie, who along with her San Clemente raised husband John owns the accomodations. Of course it wouldn’t be a night out with the SYRV crew without DJ KK getting in the mix entertaining the guests with her beats.
We spent our last day in San Juan Del Sur, and it was a shock to our systems to be in a civilized city with paved roads, restaurants, and other tourists. We were free to do what we wanted for our final day; some chose to take surf lessons, some headed out to Playa Hermosa where they filmed Survivor and others took a boat to surf the secluded wedge at Playa Yankees A couple of people lay by the pool with cocktails and others took in a sunset yoga session with top Yoga Instructor Tiffany Russo. It was only 7 days but it felt like a lifetime, actually we called it “Nicatime,” as one hour in Nicaragua with all that we accomplished equaled one day back in North America.