A Travellerspoint blog

Don't look up

Our last volunteer project was by far the best. For one month we called a farm on Island Ometepe home. The island is made up of two volcanoes, our farm being at the base of the smaller. The island is home to lots of wildlife including howler monkeys, white faced capuchins, igaunas and unfortunately taranchulas and scorpions who had a strong desire to become our roommates. Our work on the farm consisted of creating a composting structure, a pig house and planting beds. Our time not working was spent swimming in the lake, mopeding around the island and getting to know the neighbors. The neighbors, Nelson and Hildebrando, taught us to herd cattle to the pasture, milk cows and what its like to be lassoed by a Nicaraguan cowboy. The day we spent mopeding around island we discovered viewpoints, explored an ecological park and unfortunately Paige getting pissed on by a monkey. However she has now learned the valuable lesson to not look up at monkeys in tree tunnels. As we raced to return our hogs in time we got stuck in stop and go traffic consisting of 50 horned cows.
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After our month on Ometepe we raced to Costa Rica where we met up with Paige's parents and grandparents. We are now living in a house where stepping outside the gate is synonymous with stepping onto the white warm sand.

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Posted by paigejohn 18:56 Comments (2)

Trespassing in Nicaragua

Posted by paigejohn 18:45 Archived in Nicaragua Comments (1)

Queen of the Barrio

Since our last post we have been

- meeting up with our long haired ex-roommates, molly and kevin, in belize
- snorkeling with nurse sharks, turtles, and rays in the silk cayes
- meeting belizian hillbillies at a howler monkey sanctuary
- making squirrell friends who enjoy riding on paige's head
- taking buses on smooth roads in mexico
- partying in playa del carmen for semana santa
- eating crickets
- having tea time in the yucatan jungle with our gracious british volunteer hosts
- jumping into cenotes and swimming underneath bats
- kicking open swinging doors to get some cold beers in a cantina
- watching the elderly community of valladolid salsa in the central park
- drinking don julio in the mexican gulf
- running into our french friend gael
- taking a 20 hour bus to oaxaca
- losing our camera
- drinking mota infused mezcal
- eating agave flower tacos
- walking through a teachers' protest while checking into the english teaching scene
- possibly finding the world's greatest beach town, whose attributes exceed its roster of nude people
- reuniting with our friends from the barrio, meghan and carter
- swimming in high-mountain hot springs during a thunderstorm
- making it from guatemala to el salvador in the back of a truck, thanks to Miguel
- hiking to waterfalls in the rainforest near juayua
- swearing off pupusas
- beach hopping along the el salvadorian coast
- finally getting our hands on some good craft beer
- taking a dip in a cold sulfury lake
- bunking down at a seminary
- crossing from el salvador to honduras to nicaragua as our number of bus rides climbed into the double digits
- being crowned volunteers of the month at the devil's non-profit, Buenas Cosas

We have just arrived on Isla de Ometepe on Lago de Cocibolca to start a month of volunteer work at a permaculture farm. After life on the farm, we are going to start a month of travelling with the honorable Heidi and Charlie Vogel, with guest appearances from Betty and Roy Schindler and Willis Vogel.

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Posted by paigejohn 17:09 Comments (4)

Fat Camp

HOLES

We have spent the last two weeks on the set, filming the Guatemalan spinoff of the Disney movie (and Louis Sachar novel) Holes. This interpretation has just as much imprisonment, suffering, and unfair treatment as the original. The work too, was the same: days spent under the hot sun digging a hole for suspect reasons. The old cast of juvenile delinquents was subbed out for a saintly young couple from Belgium, a French pastry chef, a South African doctor, a 16 year old Guatemalan work-horse and a real horse named Choo-Choo, not to mention the two of us. After filming, we would head back to the detention center and were treated to a few grams of beans and corn tortillas, a bathroom with a sheet for a door (its windy here), and the dirty dishes from the family we stayed with. Please don't donate time or money to Buenas Cosas, the "not for profit" fat camp that misrepresents themselves in order to directly benefit from the hard work and hard earned money of well meaning volunteers.
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Criticisms aside, we actually enjoyed our time out in the dusty Barrio of Bellos Horizontes. We became very close with the other volunteers and spent our time off heading out to a rope swing on the lake, hunting for lost goats, catching lizards, learning new drinking games, breaking up rooster vs. turkey fights and makin it rain on the local 4th grade population during our street soccer tournaments.

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In the weeks leading up to our volunteer project, we were taking it slow in the jungles of a huge water system called the RIo Dulce, which links Guatemala's largest body of water to the Caribbean Sea. Touring waterfalls, floating in kayaks, drinking at hot springs and getting lost on a lake in a fierce rainstorm were our activities of choice. Heading north for our volunteer project, our post "lost boat adventure" quality of transportation followed a similar pattern... a slow, hot, cramped bus broke down and we spent a few hours on the side of the road drinking rum with a friendly Honduran man who was planning on entering the U.S. illegally for the 3rd time, and our next pressure-cooker bus was rolling down the highway with a small village of 97 people on board.

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We are now en route to southern Belize to meet up with Molly and Kevin and experience their gracious offerings of pickles and Thin Mints.

Posted by paigejohn 08:28 Archived in Guatemala Comments (0)

Back to school back to school

After spending 4 days splashing in the warm ocean waves we decided to began to be a bit more productive. We took a week of intensive Spanish lessons daily however, it would be very foolish to allow class to cut into our drinking, beach lounging and body surfing (we learned something in college). We also began to "teach English" to the children of Candelaria, a nearby town. Daily we went to Candelaria to teach los ninos the English language. I am happy to say I feel we learned much more Spanish than they did English. Although, playing duck duck goose and hide and seek with these children was great fun, the real fun began with the hallowed out eggs stuffed with colored confetti for smashing on other's heads. After a week of intense Spanish lessons and teaching English, we explored where the magroved river met the ocean. The next stop was cowboy ville for some homemade rum, cigars and cheese. After 6 buses, 4 vans, 1 truck and 1 ferry we finally made our way to Zacapa but sadly found no rum, no cigars and no cheese, just an abundance of the guatemalan staples: fried chicken and french fries. After many breif stops we made it to the Caribbean coast, home to Garifuna culture and lots of wild animals in restaurants, hotels and roads. Tonight we are hoping to hear live Garifuna music played on drums and turtle shells while drinking the spicy local liquor.

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Posted by paigejohn 13:48 Archived in Guatemala Comments (2)

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