Stand UP Nicaragua: Masaya Volcano and Managua

Sunday evening in Nicaragua. It’s been a whirlwind since we last spoke, and the author apologies for the tardy update that stemmed from missing the Shabbat’s sunset deadline.

We left off during our final night in Granada, and we rejoin you en route to Leon from part three of Sunday’s adventure. Central America’s largest country is showing us all of its five senses as we dredge through rain and traffic…

Friday was the finale to the volunteering project at La Granadilla. Final layers of brick and paint were laid respectively on the oven and swing set, and the group teamed up with the woman of the community to prepare lunch. Nacatamales (the offspring of tamales and empenadas) are a Nicaraguan staple, and Stand Up was fortunate enough to create the meal using only ingredients grown in the community. It’s been two days since the goodbyes at La Granadilla and hindsight may be a bit premature, but it certainly seems an experience to last a lifetime.

A short walking tour of Masaya built a break into the drive between Granada and Managua. This small volcano-laden town is know for its artisan market, which naturally marked the end of said tour. **If you see an extra withdrawal from checking accounts from Friday, that’s why.** From here we rattled to Managua where a few of the teens used the skills learned at CLTC to lead Shabbat service.

The day of rest Saturday was well earned, and the group had a chance to roam around the mall that was adjacent to the hotel. (See the aforementioned ** ). It would be disservice not to at least mention our short Saturday morning program. What began as a debate of Jewish values organically transitioned to an intriguing conversation comparing religion and faith. Hyperbole aside, the ideas and depth of the dialogue left the staff floored and extremely impressed.

One of travels unique characteristics is that oftentimes age has no boundaries. Later that night, we were reminded of a similar sentiment, that Judiasm knows no nationality. Imagine a group of 21 American kids making up the heavy majority of a Saturday evening service congregation. Intermittently sitting amongst the teens, Nicaraguan men and woman, boys and girls. The temple? A long, narrow room topped with corrugated metal seemingly between two homes. Spanish prayer books yielded a Spanish service, but Hebrew won the language war this night when all in attendance joined in on familiar prayers. The leader of Managua’s Jewish community, Omar, and his wife prepared a delicious dinner to cap off a memorable and unique Shabbat.

Which brings us back to today, la dia de aventura. Masaya Volcano is one of the worlds most active volcanoes, and it wasn’t until a month ago that the higher-ups here decided to reopen the site and allow people to view the open crater from above. Lesson: within the last year one of the Masaya Volcano’s craters felt its floor cave in, leaving a gaping hole that allows a visual education of Earth’s core. A raging river of magma raged in plain site as mineral-laced smoke spewed from the opening. To say the very least, this unbelievable attraction would be closed to non-scientists in most countries.

A cool down was next on the docket in the form of a visit to Apoyo Lagoon. Jungle green surrounding the perimeter of this natural reserve makes it, in at least one persons opinion, one of the worlds best unknown watering holes. There are some places out there that aren’t given justice by pictures or words — this is one of them.

The cherry on top of it all? A free-falling Tarzan swing. The video will tell the story for this one!

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