From Bona Fide to La Concha

    By Ellie and PJ
    Photos courtest of Anna Parker

    Greetings.

    This is your latest correspondence from ya girl Ellie and PJ, aka El Jefe.

    Our week began this past Sunday with a summit up the nearby volcano Maderas. While it is the shorter volcano on Ometepe Island, the hike proved to be no easy feat. Katie and Anna were both not feeling too great health-wise, so, unfortunately, by the time we left at 8:00 am, we were already down two. Soon after, we lost another to physical exhaustion (Maggie’s leg pain caught up to her.) The route to the top was about 6.5 kilometers long with a 1,400 meter vertical ascent. As such, Cate, who was already feeling slightly under the weather in the morning, pushed on from the lookout point halfway up, and by some feat of superhuman strength, reached the top of the volcano only a couple of minutes behind the bulk of the group. There at the summit, the group, led by Levies (head field worker at Bona Fide) and his co-worker Felipe, enjoyed a lovely lunch of gallo pinto and plantain chips wrapped in banana leaves overlooking the small lake that had formed in the crater of this now dormant volcano. After a quick dip into the volcanic lake, we began our ascent down, which ended with a very tired crawl back into Bona Fide around 5:30 pm—greeted by an unreal, vibrant sunset and another healthy, locally-grown, delicious Bona Fide dinner.

    The next day we were back to the grind, this time with a little more soreness and fatigue. But that didn’t stop us from cleaning up! That’s right, all hands not in the kitchen that day were on deck cleaning out two compost toilets that were nearing capacity and dumping the contents around Coffee plants as fertilizer and mulch. After a crappy three hours, we had a quick lunch and some members ran down to grab the much-sought-after smoothies in town. This ill-informed and irresponsible group of students, of which yours truly was definitely not a part of, ended up being 15 or 20 minutes late (depending on who you ask) for a natural medicine workshop with Bona Fide liaison Farah. Nonetheless, the workshop was very educational and we got to drink some homemade tinctures (liquid concentrations of medicinal herbs) for various common ailments. After all problems were cured by the tinctures, we decided to have some fun partying as teenagers do, having a college rager with water games and rap music until the wee hours of 9:30 pm (haha).

    Today is our last work day at Bona Fide. Nine doomed souls were assigned to field that day. Tricked into working from the easy time they had that morning macheting fallen trees, the field crew soon realized their shoulders and grit were up for a real challenge: carrying really big logs up a hill. There were about three people per log, yet each person was carrying far more weight than they wanted. After each group carried three logs up the hill, we were relieved to hear we just had to distribute compost the rest of the morning. That afternoon, we had a fun and perhaps too fast-paced salsa lesson that left us stumbling over our partner’s feet. It was a great last day at the lovely Bona Fide.

    Bright and early the next day, our sore shoulders carried one more thing down the hill—our backpacks—as we left Bona Fide. We stuffed ourselves into two very crowded buses to the ferry. We had to take one more bus to just outside Masaya before we had lunch. After, we had just one more short bus ride to Mariposa Spanish school, in La Concha. Our homestay mothers greeted us as we pulled up to La Concha, and we were off to live in our first solo homestay (besides Bradley, Jimmy, Anna, and Cate who are sharing their homestay).

    After our first night, we came back to the school and reminisced on our great night with our family, but we were soon working in our volunteer placements for the morning. These included helping teachers and playing with kids at a primary school, watching over some deceptively tricky kids at a community center, drawing lions and playing soccer at a cultural center, and listening to a compost lecture all in Spanish at the Mariposa garden. That afternoon we had our first Spanish classes split into a grammar class, then conversation class which consisted of us going to get ice cream and conversing the whole way there.

    The next day featured more of the same. Some people switched their volunteer placement. Each place continued their job, but today the garden people actually worked in the garden instead of listening to a lecture. After volunteer hours, we had more Spanish class, but today our conversations stayed in the classroom. We’re looking forward to a lake trip this weekend.