One Week in Nicaragua: Waves, Wellness, Yoga and Service
Post by Olivia Martino, Registered Dietitian and Co-owner at Nourish Northwest
I just returned from what was possibly the best week of my life. I spent one week in Jiquillio Beach, Nicaragua with a group of 20 amazing people soaking up the sun, playing in the ocean, doing sunset yoga and most importantly working on some service projects to help out the Nicaraguan community. This trip was organized by a dear friend and fellow dietitian/yoga instructor, Beth Sobel of Sushumna Integrative Health. Thanks, Beth, for making this possible and touching everyone’s life that was on this trip!
Monty’s Beach Lodge is a truly unique and special place to stay. Not only are you forming special bonds with like-minded people, having tons of fun and relaxation but you are becoming immersed in the local community and working to improve the lives of its members. Monty’s is involved in several projects ranging from working in the local schools to building household water filters. To learn more about Monty’s and social tourism, watch this video:
Each morning started out with the shrill of roosters clucking and a parrot repeating “bueno” outisde of our beach cabana. I would sleepily climb out of my mosquito net, open the door and walk 10 steps to get my morning coffee. 10 more steps and I was walking down the beach, slowly waking up. Then it was time for a morning yoga session. The way we told time while in Nicaragua was by yoga time, meal time or piña colada time. An invigorating vinyasa flow yoga class fully opened my eyes and prepared me for the day.
Afternoons were spent doing a variety of things:
We were also provided with 3 delicious meals, very lovingly prepared by the awesome staff at Monty’s. We hungrily chomped on fresh fish and shrimp, plantains, rice and beans, fresh eggs and pineapple. And we doused EVERYTHING in Chimichurri sauce.
Night times were usually spent with our good buddy Ron (aka rum in español), dancing, and laughing… lots of laughing.
I could go on and on about the fun times and good friends I made in Nicaragua but the point of this blog post is not to make you jealous and wish you were not stuck in the Portland rain. The purpose of this post is to tell you about some of the projects we worked on and how you can get involved. Taken from Monty’s website, “One of the most beautiful places in the world faces some tough social and environmental challenges, so a little help goes a long way. From simple acts of helpful kindness to critical improvements in sustainable development, there are many opportunities to make a difference in the lives of the people of Jiquillio.”
My favorite day was spent working with kids in Los Zorros school. We went in and played music with the kids as well as prepared and served them a nutritious meal. The smiling faces on these children should be enough to convince you to go to Jiquillio Beach. They welcome help in any form, ranging from teaching a lesson in the classroom to simply playing a game of soccer with the kids. You can also sponsor a lunch for 150 kids for $100 or a child’s uniform for $40.
Another project that was going on while we were there was the building of solar ovens. We visited the community center in Jiquillio, which was built from donations from Canada and serves as a place for community members to gather and work on sewing projects, arts and crafts and store books and computers. Members of the Jiquillio Women’s Cooperative were working to build solar ovens that eventually will be a part of everyone’s home in the community. These ovens require no power or electricity and can reach a temperature of 350 degrees. The use of solar ovens reduces smoke inhalation and the destruction of local resources for firewood. Families can use them to cook entire meals, or like the women were doing, cooking breads and treats that can be sold to tourists as a fundraiser for the co-op. This is an amazing project. Each oven costs roughly $200. The center also welcomes donations of computer equipment, sewing supplies and books.
Beside the community center is the Health Clinic that oversees the health of the communities of Los Zorros, Jiquilillio and Padre Ramos. This two room clinic is run by Nicaraguan nurses and serves as a place for vaccinations, prenatal care and general health care. The clinic gladly invites volunteers, especially those in the medical/dental fields and medical donations.
Another project we worked on was building and delivering water filters. By pooling our group’s money together we were able to purchase 2 filtration systems. If interested in donating to this cause, the cost is $60 per filter.
There are many other ways to get involved. Follow this link to Monty’s to learn more about the projects they are working on. Writing a check or mailing supplies is a great way to help, but if at all possible, I strongly recommend going! As soon as you book your trip, 30% of your money goes towards community projects. This is the experience of a lifetime and there is nothing more rewarding than connecting with the people themselves. Thanks Monty’s, Beth and everyone on the Nicaragua 2013 retreat! I will definitely be going back again!