As we near the end of our first week in Masaya, all the volunteers of Cycle 10 are settling in nicely to the Nicaraguan way of life. The preliminary stages of our work in the nearby community of El Pochote have been completed, we have all found new friends in the form of our Nicaraguan counterparts, and our bodies have just about acclimatized to the carbohydrate-rich diet (they like rice, a lot).

After five days of induction in Managua, it was time for the long anticipated arrival in Masaya. The journey passed quickly – partly due to the vast array of interestingly modified vehicles which occupy Nicaragua’s roads (one example being a sofa for passengers attached to the back of a truck), but also because the scenery is so spectacular. We arrived excited for what lay ahead, albeit a little nervous about meeting our host families for the first time. As expected, those nerves were short-lived as, once we reached our new homes; we were all received with outstretched arms. Personally, it has been a particularly humbling experience to be welcomed so readily by absolutely everybody we have come across, from our new families to the elders of Masaya, and I’m sure all of the other UK volunteers have felt the same way.

Over our first weekend we all visited El Pochote, the community where most of our work will be taking place, for the first time. We were shown the different places where members of the community are able to collect water; usually this is a hole which has been dug around a section of the main pipe, as the system is not powerful enough to pump water all the way to peoples’ homes. It was interesting to actually see firsthand the problems with El Pochote’s water supply which we had been made aware of and had discussed previously. It has also reinforced the importance of striving to improve the quality of water for the community – something we will be doing through the completion of the 60 eco-latrines which the previous cycles of volunteers have been working on.

Our main task over the past few days has been putting things in place so that we can begin to cover all of the eco-latrines. We have transported, counted and sorted into individual packs all of the materials which we will be using to undertake our main project. This seemingly simple, although necessary and time consuming task proved to be surprisingly rewarding; it was great to start working together as a team, and to get to know each other even more. In addition, we have had a visit from the UK ambassador to Nicaragua, Chris Campbell, during which time we were able to talk about how the eco-latrines work, the benefits they will bring to the people of El Pochote, as well as our motivations for working with Progressio. 

All in all, our time in Nicaragua so far has been busy, yet thoroughly enjoyable, interesting and productive. If the first week in our adopted home town is anything to go by, our time here will pass by quicker than any of us could have ever imagined. I hope you continue to follow our progress over the next eight weeks.

Until next time, adios!

Written by ICS volunteer Alex  Johnson