On Friday May 26 2012 Education Plus was able to take 33 of our members to Playa Hermosa, near San Juan del Sur. While many first world foreigners come and enjoy the beautiful beaches of Nicaragua, those that live just an hour and a half away in our community of Pantanal most likely never see the beaches in their lives because they just cannot afford the trip. We really wanted to do something for the kids that would expand their horizons and let them see where an education could take them, and taking them to see another part of their country, the beautiful Playa Hermosa in this case, has been our dream for a long time.
After talking to several people, we finally found a sponsor for the transportation in Granada. The trip, however (like most endeavors in Nicaragua) did not go off without a hitch. The bus to take us there broke down on the way from Managua and they had to send a new one down. Thus, the kids, who had started to assemble at the school at 8am for a planned 9am departure, were forced to wait nervously.
In the meantime, while we were supposed to celebrate Carolina’s 8th birthday at the beach, her father had decided not to give her permission to go. While San Juan del Sur is only an hour and a half away from Pantanal, most of the community have never ventured this far, let alone seen the ocean, and some were thus fearful about letting their children go. This was particularly prevalent in homes where the children were being raised by their grandparents. Many other parents, father’s especially, refused to let their children go because they felt if they themselves could not go to the beach, their kids shouldn’t go either.
To prevent us from taking Carolina to the beach, her father had her mother take Carolina to work with her in Granada that morning. We spent an hour driving around the city trying to track her down. We were unable to find her or her mother, having just missed them, and returned disheartened to Pantanal. That is when we learned that the original bus had broken down and were told that another would not be able to arrive until 10:30! This, of course, in Nica-speak meant 10:30 or later. While stressful, in the meantime while waiting we were able to convince one grandmother to let her grandchildren go, and Carolina returned with her mother! We went to her house to beg and plead with her mother to let her go. Finally, her mother relented (the father works in the fields gathering cocoa beans during the day so he was not there). After at least 20 phone calls and chasing down the bus in central Granada, we discovered that what came was actually a 15 person van. No matter, with several people sitting on laps and a few wooden chairs added, we were soon ready to go!
It was then that we discovered that Elia (8) and her sister Ivania (7) were missing. Their cousins told us that their grandmother had decided not to let them go for fear for their safety. This explained why I saw Elia crying earlier that day when I came by their house. With the bus fully loaded, we drove around the corner to Elia’s house, where we begged, pleaded and promised their grandmother for 10 minutes until she finally relented.
Thus very fully loaded, we finally made our way to San Juan del Sur, where we picked up/crammed in a group of 6 more very patient volunteers, and headed to the beach! After a very bumpy ride to the beach, the eager kids jumped out of the van and into the water! While some were a bit fearful of the waves, all went in on their own accord. They were surprised to find that the water was salty! The location of Playa Hermosa has an added bonus – from the beach, you can look across the water to Costa Rica. Since we had just recently taught the kids how to find Nicaragua on a world map, and that Costa Rica was located to the south, it was great to be able to render this lesson concrete.
Dave Jones from Volcan Music brought a boogie board lent from Byron Lopez from Arena Caliente surf shop, and Dario from San Juan del Sur Surf and Sport loaned us a surf board. Gerry from Casa del Aguain Granada sponsored our transportation, fruit and water, and Mayor Eduardo Holmann generously waived our entrance fees to Hermosa and arranged a set meal plan for the kids.
The kids were taken with the beauty of the beach and had one of the best times of their lives. Swimming and laughing and splashing each other. The volunteers also found it very rewarding – to hold the hand of a child the first time they ever enter the ocean, the first time they ever experience waves or build a sand castle, is a profound and joyous experience.
We stayed as long as we could and made it back around 8pm that night. Almost all of the kids were sound asleep in the ride home. An amazing, amazing day. Thank you to all of our sponsors and volunteers!
See more photos below: