By Tate Scarpaci

After our last week of homestays, we began our week of Student Directed Travel (SDT). Everyone was stoked for some more adventure.

An eventful ride in a microbus led us to the city of Leon, our first stop of the week. It is a large, slightly touristy city, but a quick bus ride will get you out of the hustle and bustle to a nice little beach town. We had decided that Monday would best be spent catching stray rays, so off to the beach we went. Nothing compares to stumbling off the back of a chicken bus and into the salty breeze.

The trip was a success with minimal sunburns and lots of tranquility. Our second 24 hours were spent exploring the streets of Leon. Food was eaten, words were spoken, and we all got a little bit closer; the city was treating us well. The final day in Leon started with a pile of rocks; old, dusty rocks. After hiking Cerro Negro we realized that the lack of vegetation gave us a spectacular view of the Pacific Ocean as well as many of Nicaragua’s Volcanoes in a neat line. After we enjoyed the view for a bit, we suited up, strapped on our helmets and goggles, and began sliding down, one by one. The volcano boarding was incredible: who knew an old pile of rocks could be so fun? We learned that it is the only place in the world where you can volcano board!

The following day we traveled to Granada. Arriving at Hostel Oasis we found it was indeed an oasis. The large hostel had free pancakes for breakfast, a pool, computer with internet, and plenty of areas to hang out. Our first morning here we ate as many pancakes as we could stomach before cramming into a microbus and heading for the hills. Arriving at Mombacho Nature Reserve, we spent the rest of our morning trekking around the volcano and found many beautiful views of the surrounding area and Lake Nicaragua. For the last day of SDT we kayaked around some of the islets near Granada, got slightly sunburned, saw some monkeys, and thoroughly enjoyed the serenity of the vast lake that has 365 islands (we didn’t have time for them all).

Alex and Hannah gave us the reins for the week and together we made something out of nothing. Huge thanks to the Captains Lexie and Tav for planning amazing activities, Eliza on the Casas for organizing the hostels with great group rates to give us more activity money, Logan on the Transporte, and everyone else for helping along the way.

Ciao for now!