DAY 4 (Final Day)
Hola Amigos! Our last day started off early with breakfast at 7am, since our bags would be with us all day on the bus (final destination = airport hotel) many of us were up by 6am packing for the trip home. Adding this to an already exhausting week of travel and kids and late nights … we were running on fumes at breakfast. After draining a few cups of coffee we were off to San Juan Del Sur, a pacific coast beach town about 45 minutes from our camp. San Juan also serves as a final stop before Costa Rica and has become famous for it’s surfing thanks to big off-shore winds (aka Caribbean Trade Winds) creating massive waves that can be scary just to look at, let alone swim in! Thankfully San Juan also has a beautiful and protected cove for swimming with a great community of beachfront restaurants and stores to explore.
San Juan Del Sur is also surrounded by a mountain range, and these mountains are the perfect place to do a canopy tour (multiple zip-lines from one tree to another descending the mountain side). By 9am we were all harnessed up, helmets on, GoPros running and ready to go. A huge 4-wheel drive military truck serves as the chair lift to the top of the mountain. After a thorough safety speech from our operators, Rachael Simmons had our go pro stick in hand, while Laura Nagg stepped up to sport the “helmet cam” for a different angle of view. The ziplines are not typical setups that you would find at a summer camp, there is no gravity system to slow you down or with a ladder to dismount on. Instead, everyone wears leather gloves on both hands, and it’s up to you to break yourself appropriately by grabbing the cable as you come in for your landing on the next tree platform. It was an awesome experience, with amazing views. Everyone got to see wild howler monkeys at one platform and after 16 ziplines in a row, we were finally at the bottom. (see Rachael’s GoPro photo below with San Juan Cove in the background).
Everyone enjoyed a great “gringo lunch” at a beachfront restaurant in the the San Juan before hopping back on the bus for an additional 2 hour ride north to the Masaya Market. Masaya Market is where you go when you are ready to get something to remember Nicaragua with: Handmade hammocks, leather bags, hand carved wooden bowls, paintings and clothing are just a few of the local items that line the halls of this self-contained market. Everything is up for negotiation when it comes to the final price, and lesson number one is that the first price is not the real price. Seeing our counselors try to barter prices said a lot about their individual personalities and it was a pleasure to watch.
We had planned to visit an active volcano (Masaya Volcano) after Masaya Market, but soon learned that the national park was closed due to the holiday season. Fortunately, everyone was so excited about shopping, that in the end, it worked out to stay in the market for a few extra hours. After the market, we traveled another hour+ back to the airport hotel (conveniently across the street from the airport).
All in all, this trip could not have gone any better. Thank you to everyone who supported, gave and prayed for this trip. With such a small window of school breaks that line up, this trip was short, but had a huge impact in everyone’s life, including the kids in Nicaragua. We could not have chosen a better group for this first annual trip, and we are so excited for December 2017 when we do this all over again with our new Campers In Leadership Training, and with our returning staff from this year to help us co-lead.
We’ve posted photos below, and there are more on our Facebook page (you do not have to be a member of Facebook to see our photos). Facebook Photos: https://www.facebook.com/pg/mtgileadcamp/photos/?tab=album&album_id=1117402428357240
More photos will be uploaded online this weekend. We will be releasing a video before the end of February.
If you are a social media guru, you can also follow us on Twitter, Instagram and SnapChat. Our username is simply ” mtgileadcamp ” on every platform.
– Mt. Gilead Camp