Stand UP Nicaragua: Update #2

Stand UP Nicaragua
Update #2

Dear Friends and Family,

There’s been quite a bit of happenings since our last update, so let’s get right to it!

After four nights at Hotel Granada, the group checked out Friday morning and began the day in Catalina, a flower-shop like town with a fantastic view of both Laguna de Apoyo and Lake Nicaragua. (This was a preview of what was to come a few days later.) After taking in the view, the bus ventured a few towns over to Masaya, home to both one of the world’s most active volcanos, as well as Nicaragua’s most well-sought out arts and crafts market, the latter of which had most of the group itching with excitement. The teens were given 2 hours and 250 cordobas, a tantalizing combination when taking into account both the inexpensive and usefulness of many of the items sold at Masaya Market! Next, commercialism took a backseat to geology as the group spent their allowed 5-minutes atop Volcan Masaya, with flowing lava visible below and any variety of deep-Earth gases hovering above (hence the 5-minute rule!). National Geographic, eat your heart out… !

We spent Shabbat at the Hex Hotel in Managua and was bookended by Friday night services led by rabbi-in-training and staff-member in-full Justin Held and Havdallah services on Saturday evening, which requires a bit of a sidetone…

*One of travel’s unique characteristics is that often age has no boundaries. Later that night, we were reminded of a similar sentiment, that Judaism knows no nationality. Imagine a group of 26 American kids making up the heavy majority of a Saturday evening service congregation. 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 out 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 the new week. The teens loaded the bus and headed for the  Laguna de Apoyo. Surrounded by lush green forest, the lagoon is a deep volcanic crater that has been sourced with water both above and below ground, resulting, (in the opinion of the writer), in what is truly one of our planet’s greatest kept secrets. Relaxation turned to adventure next at Masatepe Eco Park where our teens had the choice between repelling down a ~25 meter wall and a 17 kilometer mountain bike ride that hugged the edges of Volcan Masaya National Park.

It was an amazing day, and with three full days left and the group heading north to Leon, there’s no reason to think that the final 72 hours will be any different!

– Your Stand UP Nicaragua Staff

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