I couldn’t contain my enthusiasm as we traveled the roads to our beach destination- Los Cardones. As we got closer I made sure that everyone was awake so they could appreciate the drive in. I kept saying- almost there, almost there, as we traveled the long dirt roads. The drive is worth it as you enter through a large tree grove where the branches shade the sun. We deemed it- the bridge to Los Cardones :) I was truly overjoyed to be able to share this beautiful location with my colleagues and students. What a perfect place to relax and reflect on the experiences we had had.
The Los Cardones website says “they are a true Nicaraguan surf camp experience.” I’m sure this is true, but for me it’s like returning to a home away from home. The joy of seeing Laurie, Isaac (the owners) and their beautiful children. The big warm bear hugs the staff give you upon returning, welcoming you back with big smiles and asking if I remember THEM. Hello……… absolutely I do, and very fondly. If you travel to Nicaragua and are fortunate enough to stay at Los Cardones, it will make a mark on your heart, and it is impossible to forget the amazing vistas and people who work there.
Ok- my heart rate finally went down after I was reassured that in fact Los Cardones is amazing, and it wasn’t just my nostalgia talking. Phew!!! We were there for just a couple of days, but would be spending half a day in San Diego and the rest of the time reflecting on our experiences and enjoying the beach, the hammocks and the wonderful food-including dessert. Hooray
Admittedly, it was really hot…. and we are from Phoenix, so thats really saying something, but we’re not use to humidity. We were tough though and very appreciative of the little battery fans provided in the rooms this year and since we weren’t winning any beauty contests the weather didn’t put any sort of damper on the joy we had of being there. I just couldn’t wait for night time when all of the famous crabs come out and rustle the leaves making your heart rate jump just a little the first time you hear it. Don’t forget those headlamps!
We spent half a day in San Diego, where girls from our last two years volunteered. I couldn’t wait for the girls to help decorate the library our girls broke ground on two years ago. Or sit and chat with our friends on the cement bench that last years girls helped make. And what was so wonderful was seeing this years group play with the kids in San Diego as if they were dear friends. The girls had heard so much about the kids in San Diego, and had seen pictures that friendship was almost immediate and a very serious game of soccer quickly ensued. I am still not sure who won the game, and its not important, but I do recall one of our girls, who plays soccer, say she had to “play all out” to keep it even. They may not have a beautiful field to play on , and sometimes their balls are flat, but boy are they great little players.
While those who braved the soccer game battled it out outside, the other girls were inside coloring, drawing and gluing super fun objects on a large banner that would decorate the library. It was fun to see and hear the communication between them. Each were shy in the beginning for their own reasons, but by the time we left, smiles and hugs were all that was seen.
I felt especially blessed to see Karla. She is a community mama that shared her home and discussed her daily life with us on our first trip to Nicaragua. Fast friendships developed, and it has been wonderful to see her each summer as well as her kids. To see them grow, them all grow, is a true blessing. I cherish and thank her for her warmth and kindness, along with the other community members that are just such wonderful people.
You too can see the children grow over the last three years and what the gators have worked on by checking out the flickr photos. We hope you enjoy.
2013 and 2014: https://www.flickr.com/photos/gatorsgiveback/sets/
2012 blog and photos: http://gatorsgiveback.wordpress.com/