We have come to the end of our first week here in El Bramadero and are beginning to get a taste of life here. We’ve experienced everything from living with our host families, surviving night-time trips to the latrines and being woken up at the crack of dawn by pigs and chickens. 

For our first blog, we thought we’d share with you our top five resounding perceptions from our first week.

#1 We are essentially living in a jungle paradise… 

El Bram is off the beaten track to say the least. We are surrounded by breath-taking scenery with tall, interlocking mountains and lush green flora, which is home to an array of wildlife. I have to pinch myself that this is where we’re going to be living for the next three months.  

#2 For the three months of our stay in El Bram, we’ve been placed with host families in the community

Living with them has highlighted their warmth and generosity. The host families have taken us in like one of their own and welcomed us to their extended families. The Nica mums are an integral part of a traditional Nica household, preparing and cooking all the food and carrying out everyday tasks. They have made a special effort to accommodate us in every way, from finding out what we like to eat to bringing in our washing when an unexpected thunderstorm hits. 

When wandering through El Bram, it is normal to be greeted with ‘¡Hola!’, ‘¡Adiós!’ and a friendly smile. We can certainly say that we’ve been given a great welcome to the community and we’re beginning to feel at home.

#3 There is a sense that the people of El Bram have a much more practical and creative way of thinking in the absence of material possessions

Most things you’ll encounter are home-made and if there’s something that needs fixing - can the Nicas fix it, yes they can! One of our host homes uses syringes for light switches and barbed wire is used for anything from fencing off areas to creating washing lines. Almost everything is reused, which means hardly anything goes to waste - something we will definitely take back to the UK.  

#4 You can’t go far in Nicaragua without experiencing some Nica dancing, whether it’s the traditional dance, La Bachata, or simply dancing blindfolded while hitting a piñata…

#5 One of the biggest differences for us coming from the UK has been adapting to the Nicaraguan minimal and simple way of life

We’ll admit the food mostly consists of rice and beans and tortillas, but meals are fresh and superbly cooked on stoves; and additions like garden-fresh mangos and bananas are savoured as treats.

The housing is very basic. Every house has been built by hand and has personal décor, including a trend of family members imposed onto green screen backgrounds. There is liveliness to the village, maintained by the over-zealous cockerels and busses, which honk loudly to interrupt our team meetings. Life here is anything but dull.

We’re used to hot running water, flushing toilets and Wi-Fi, but you learn here that the ‘essential commodities’ of life in the UK aren’t so essential after all. Who needs Netflix anyway when you have a flat football, a gravel road and a load of enthusiastic Nicas playing football to have fun!?

Written by ICS volunteers Rachel Cole and Theo Briffa