By Chloe Steffes

Hola todos!

In the final weeks of our Nicaraguan journey, the Carpe group has really been both absorbing and adapting to nature all around us. We have even taken it so far as to live a more “rustic” lifestyle as we approach the end of our trip.

Our week began with a well thought out hike planned by Annie on Mombacho. After bussing up the majority of the mountain we all waited apprehensively for the hike at hand. Scared from previous treks that have since been deemed traumatic, the Carpe group tentatively took on the mountain. By the time were through with our appropriately named intermediate hike, everyone was still jittery from the stunning views, vibrant wildflowers, and the potent scent of sulfur. The sulfur smell especially struck a cord with Talia, who claimed it made her “really want some eggs”.

We finished off our last night of Student-Directed Travel in Granada with a lovely group dinner at Pita Pita, where Grace, Elliot, Hanna, Maddie and Juliette all showed off their brand new tattoos and Paige finally got the pizza she had been craving. Afterward we all wandered to a nearby ice cream shop and were generously treated to a frozen dessert, courtesy of Kaitlin’s mom.

The following morning, prior to catching a series of boats and automobiles, many of the more responsible students, such as Siobhan, packed up their homemade lunch into a tupperware for our lunch on the road. I, on the other hand, hastily scraped a hefty amount of complimentary pancakes into my bag before heading out, which proved to suffice just as well. Before boarding our minibus, we all waved goodbye to perhaps the nicest place we had stayed all semester while mourning the loss of movie nights, personal electric fans, indoor pools, and free breakfast, knowing that for the next week we’d be living much less extravagantly.

We arrived at Finca Bona Fide in the late afternoon, curious to learn more about the permaculture farm located on the island of Ometepe. Permaculture is a term that was coined in the 1970s by two Aussies and stands for permanent agriculture. It is a philosophy, or design science, of working with rather than against nature, looking at plants and animals for all of their functions instead of treating an area as a single product (monoculture), and interacting with and for the surrounding community. By the way, if you folks at home are interested in learning more about permaculture, University of Oregon offers a free online course!

We were introduced as to how to participate in this special farming system and promptly put to work the next morning after a restless nights sleep. We slept in an open-air den complete with bug-filled bug nets, and yes we had at least daily encounters with tarantulas attempting to snuggle up in our sheets, but with a little teamwork we all managed to make it through the night only slightly terrified. Throughout the duration of our stay on Bona Fide group members took turns working in the garden, nursery, kitchen, and field, anxiously awaiting the deliciously prepared, farm fresh, organic food to fuel our bodies. At the end of our work day we participated in various permaculture workshops that taught us everything from how to heal period cramps with hibiscus to creating nutrient-rich fertilizer with our own excrement. Many vowed to take home with them their learned aspects of natural medicine, so be prepared to have basil and other various herbs take the place of your Advils and Tylenol.

Until next time, and to all of those at home enjoy your fire ant, mosquito, wasp, and spider free beds. Adios!