Looking for an adventure?
If you like the idea of escaping from your desk for anything from three weeks to three months, and you would like to immerse yourself in a Nicaraguan cloud forest picking coffee, teach English to some very enthusiastic children, paint a few school buildings and horse ride across fields and mountains, then please give us a call. Tailor made trips involving volcano boarding and swimming in a volcanic crater lake in between working on the latest Hada Del Café educational project. If your idea of a working volunteering holiday is making a serious difference to the schools out there while having the time of your life, then please contact me at email@example.com
For those that have, read below to hear how they fared out in the wilds of this stunning Central American country…
One last, hurried dip in the cool lake. Howler monkeys groan, to each other, across the jungle. I put my hands on my ears to try to stop their uncomfortable, grating sound as I hike up the hill to my hostel bed. I throw sun clothes and laptop back into my pack, and off we go.
The taxi putters up the steep walls of the old crater, then tumbles downhill, winding its way through tiny towns until we stumble into the bus station.
Exhaust and ranchera music blow from the behemoth machines, coming and going, and all painted like a garish rainbow. Exuberant calls of bus staff, announcing departures and arrivals and who-knows-what rise above the steady hum of everyday conversations of people lounging in the hot shade of the station. Everywhere is someone sitting, selling, moving. We stand, waiting with our bags, saying nothing yet grabbing more attention than the drivers calling out routes. I’m tall and Seattle-winter-pale. Martina is typical-adorable. No man in sight and we couldn’t attract more attention.
Read more at: www.joyaiverson.com/2011/02/bus-ride-to-esteli
For three days in the rolling hills of spotted grassy fields and patches of tropical forest in the Nicaraguan preserve of Miraflor, I was privileged to have the opportunity to view the transformative effects one woman was having on a small but thriving community.
By working directly with coffee farmers to offer a fair price for their beloved coffee, Martina was able to do what the Fair Trade and Organic organizations originally intended but now so often fail at doing, providing a profitable wage directly to the primary producers of the coffee bean.
At the same time, Martina ensures that donations garnered through her own private aid initiatives working with schools back in the UK and these are directed to the projects for which it was intended.
When I spent time up there for a couple of days, we took out a group of horses to visit the schools to which her aid money was devoted and the coffee farmers from whom she buys. Horses, besides being adventurous, were absolutely necessary to get us to the remoteness of these communities, isolated in those cloud enshrouded forests that seemed to embody the romantic notion of coffee growing communities in Central America. Instead of trumping around as certifiers do, Martina knew each person in the community in a joking, familiar, and friendly basis, and positive nature of her relationships with the farmers made the atmosphere incredibly welcoming as a visitor. After riding vigorously for a full day, we decided to take the next day easier, and by easier I mean lugging concrete bricks to the construction site of a rapidly developing school, funded directly by Martina and the aid she is able to corral on behalf of the community. In the hot Nicaraguan afternoon sun, nothing seemed more entertaining than overturning concrete rubble from a former project (the build of three new toilets for the school), swiping away the multitude of creeping bugs and scorpions in the process, and carrying them to the new site where a brand new classroom was being built with a view to finally opening up secondary education opportunities to the kids living here. How could I refuse? Not that I wanted to.
Best of all though, it was the chance to live and stay in the beautiful farm house of our generous, hilarious, and gregarious hosts Myra and Marlon, and the chance to meet and exchange stories, points of view, and philosophies, and to recognize not only some of the struggles that they face in rural Nicaragua, but most importantly the overwhelming joy of the community, the love of their children, and the desire to have the opportunity to study, live, work and find happiness in the community in which they live.
Catherine Emma Dunford
My time spent in Nicaragua teaching English really highlighted how much the school kids benefit from what Martina does. I have never seen children so excited to have new textbooks at school!
The best thing about volunteering in Miraflor is that the communities really welcome you as one of their own and you get the chance to live a completely different lifestyle. Entertainment comes courtesy of rum, guitars, pinadas and singing.
Showering is certainly an experience – after drawing water from the well and then tipping it over your head with a bucket you’ll never waste another drop again.
My trip to Nicaragua with Martina was one of the best things i have ever done. To see how Martina and the Coffee Fairy Fund have helped the community first hand and to feel I was a part of it was something
i will never forget.
Im a water engineer, having grown up in Australia and the UK where everyone has access to clean drinking water, it was a shock to me to know the children of this community live daily without clean water.
The highlight of the trip therefore for me was when we presented to the coffee farmers water filters bought with money we had brought over donated from my place of work and a school. Seeing one of the farmer’s wives realise what she had been given and give Martina one of the biggest bear hugs I’ve ever seen and then dance around the kitchen with her will stay with me always. It was one of the best birthday presents i could ever have had even with the 4am start to drive down to the capital city to pick up the water filters!
Another highlight was seeing the faces of the teachers and children when presented with their newly painted school rooms, desk and especially the pile of new text books. It made the hard days of cleaning and painting and rushing around totally worthwhile.
I would go back at the drop of a hat. While a plan will change 5 times in one day with different set backs and information and sometimes you wonder how you will achieve your goal, its all part of the adventure and you know that with Martina’s dedication and enthusiasm it will all work out. Seeing what you have achieved and how it will help the children of the community is just the best thing ever!
I went to Nicaragua and was amazed at the beauty of the country and warmth of the people, I appreciate that this is an overused statement, but in this case its absolutely true.
Martina had arranged for me to have an experience I’ve yet to repeat – a few examples: the journey from Estelí to Miraflor in the milk van with about 17 Nicaraguans packed in the back because the bus wasn’t working and everyone needed a lift, horse riding to the next community to visit a primary school and meet the children, showers with water drawn from a well [by Martina herself ], a piñata party in the home of our lovely hosts, Mayra and Marlon and to finish, a couple of days on the idyllic Corn islands. The itinerary Martina put together was excellent but fluid enough to stay longer in places if desired and she reacted to events beyond her control with a calmness I didn’t know she possessed [passport left on a bus by me…………].
All in all it was an amazing trip and I really appreciate Martina’s role in making it one of the best trips I’ve ever had and I am planning to return next January.