Hola a todas y todos, estudiantes y padres!
We now write, with great excitement, to share with you the tentative itinerary for our Fall Semester Central America 2017. We, the instructors, along with our great program director, have been working together to create this journey through Nicaragua and Guatemala for the next 3 months.
We are using the word “tentative” because traveling in a region like Central America can bring unexpected changes, due to the nature and geography of these two beautiful countries. It is important that we all remain flexible throughout the course. This itinerary will help you in planning for the trip and getting a sense of where we will be when.
This program is jam-packed with adventures, rugged travel, and time spent in diverse communities with incredibly beautiful climates and landscapes and mucho español, so prepare yourself for an unforgettable and inspiring journey of cultural immersion and learning experiences.
Tentative Course Itinerary:
September 15th you will meet at Miami International Airport. We, your instructor team, will be eagerly awaiting your arrival in Managua, Nicaragua. Stay tuned for a post from the Dragons administration on final departure details.
LA GARNACHA, ESTELI > Sept. 16 – Sept.21
We’ll have our course orientation in the community of La Garnacha, Estelí beginning the day after your arrival in Managua. La Garnacha is a cooperative community in the north-central highlands, full of beautiful landscapes, delicious local food, inspiring examples of community work and collaboration. Orientation activities will include workshops on group dynamics, tips for navigating the places we’ll visit, and learning about the diverse and rich cultures and traditions of Nicaragua and Guatemala. We will also have time to explore some of the nearby sites in La Garnacha.
RESERVA NATURAL MIRAFLOR, ESTELI > Sept. 21 – Sept. 24
Next we’ll proceed just a few miles up from La Garnacha, where we’ll spend a day preparing for our trek through the Natural Reserve “Miraflor”. The next three days we’ll spend on foot, moving through the mountains and verdant countryside that witnessed the Nicaraguan revolution just 30 years ago. We will get to know Organic Coffee Cooperatives, Agroecology movements, Women cooperatives, Natural Conservation initiatives and great people living in beautiful communities within the natural reserve.
COMUNIDAD EL LAGARTILLO, ESTELI > Sept. 24 – Oct. 8
We’ll make our way to the remarkable community of El Lagartillo, where we’ll spent two weeks where we will have our first homestay experience and Spanish classes at the Hijos del Maíz school. El Lagartillo is a small, tight-knit community with a powerful history of organization and active resilience. The community has a rich history in arts and music; they have been doing theater, music, and painting to express daily life, their victories and their struggles. We will become immersed in their rhythm, at their pace, led by the cycles of nature and the cycles of their crops that feed them and allow them to create this beautiful community we will be able to live in.
CEN (CENTRO DE ENTENDIMIENTO CON LA NATURALEZA), MATAGALPA > Oct.9 – Oct. 14
We plan to visit Centro de Entendimiento con la Naturaleza (CEN) in the beautiful green countryside outside of the Matagalpa Department, located within the BOSAWAS Natural Reserve. CEN has been reforesting land once cleared for cattle ranching in order to control erosion, restore soil systems, and preserve water resources. The true magic of these practices can only be fully understood by an in-person visit! CEN is led by Alan Bolt, a Quantum Physicist and spiritual Maya guide, along by a team of local experts in Biology, Wilderness education, Trekking and animal rescue and protection.
CIUDAD DE MATAGALPA > Oct. 14 – Oct. 21
Matagalpa is the Capital City of the Department of Matagalpa. Here we are planning to have our second homestay experience and second Spanish course with Calibri Spanish School. Matagalpa can give us a better perspective and experience around the diversity of cultures and ways of living in Nicaragua. The social movements are diverse and active, from organized coffee cooperatives, feminist movements, art groups and environmental activists working and living here for a better city, country and world. This small city is very safe, walkable and has a comfortable climate. This is our last chapter in the beautiful and strong Nicaragua.
From Sandino Airport in Managua we will fly to Aurora Airport in Guatemala City, to start our journey in the heart of the Mayan Kingdom, Guatemala. > Oct. 22
Guatemala City will host us for the first night and day here. It is a modern city of Central America and we will have the chance to know get to know it for a day. > Oct. 23
COMUNIDAD NUEVO HORIZONTE, PETEN > Oct. 24 – Oct. 31
From there we will take a night bus to Petén to The Mayan Biosphere that has a territory of approximately 21,600 square kilometers, the biggest protected area in Guatemala. In Petén we are going to stay for a week in the community of Nuevo Horizonte. The department of Petén has a Tropical climate, a lot of wild nature like monkeys, jaguars, deer, crocodiles and a beautiful lake called Petén Itza. The Incredible and beautiful Maya Temples will take us thousands of years back in the history of humanity, to understand a bit more of Mayan Cosmovision, their principles of life, and their understanding of the cosmos and nature here on Earth.
Nuevo Horizonte, our home base community, was found by ex-guerrilla people many years ago. They were living and defending their land in the wild jungle of Petén for more than 15 years during the civil war, a war that lasted 36 years and ended in 1996. The members of the community have developed reforestation projects, history learning sessions, interpretative paths through the forest and alternative education programs.
Flores Island in Petén will be our place to chill a bit, debrief and celebrate the first half of our journey!
BIOTOPO DEL QUETZAL, ALTA VERAPAZ > Oct. 31 – Nov. 3
From the tropical climate of Petén we will move to the cloudy forests of El Biotopo del Quetzal which is considered a national monument and the house of the Quetzal, the Guatemalan national bird that has a strong connection with Mayan culture. Our goal here will be to see Kukulkán, as it’s called in Mayan language, Quetzalcoatl for the Nahuatls in Mexico and El Quetzal in Spanish. Kukulkán is a shy bird, difficult to see, but hopefully not impossible. This place is surrounded by natural pools, great treks and great spots to relax and enjoy nature.
SAN JUAN LA LAGUNA, ATITLAN LAKE > Nov. 3 – Nov. 18
After those days of exploration in the Biotopo we will head to the Highlands, the Maya territory in Guatemala, where we are going to live for two weeks at the shores of the most beautiful lake in the world (according to Guatemalans, and lately according to National Geographic Magazine). The community of San Juan La Laguna and its families will receive us in their homes, for our 3rd homestay experience during the course and the first in Guatemala. You will live with a Maya T’zutujil Family. This Maya community has been holding the Maya traditions and Cosmovision for thousands of years. Spirituality, deep respect and connection with nature, love and care for the lake, arts and happiness drive this community. You will have Spanish lessons with Eco Spanish School, a beautiful school by the lake, with great teachers and a lot of cultural and hands on activities.
TREK, LOS CUCHUMATANES > Nov. 18 – Nov. 23
The Chuchumatanes are the highest lands in Guatemala, (the peak: 3,800mts – 12,400 ft.) an incredible flat and cold land inhabited by ships, horses, birds, and communities in the middle of nowhere. This will be the perfect scenario for our 4 day trek where will be walking for 5 or 6 hours per day, staying the nights in 3 different communities, (7 Pinos, Laguna Magdalena and Acul). We are going to walk from Huehuetenango Department to Quiche Department. During the trek we won’t get higher than 2,800 mts. or 9,000 ft. The last day will take us to Nebaj, Quiche, our last destination on the trek.
EXPEDITION PHASE > Nov. 24 – Nov. 30
This is your week! The students will be organizing where we go and what we will be doing in Guatemala during this week. We will give you options and ideas about communities and projects to visit and you will lead us in this adventure!
LAS HORTENCIAS, SAN LUCAS SACATEPEQUEZ > Nov. 30 – Dic. 5
Las Hortencias is a comfortable big house in the middle of a cloudy forest near Antigua Guatemala, where we will spend the last 6 days of our course debriefing, meditating and sharing our personal experiences, challenges, things we learned and great moments we all had in Central America on our thre month journey together. This will be a time to reconnect with the outside world and share ideas of how to take this experience, in the best way, to our homes, communities, countries and our daily lives back home.
We, the Instructors Team (I-Team) are so excited about this time we will be traveling and living together as a Dragons Community, as visitors, students, brothers, sisters and human beings in this part of the world.
During the first week of September, the I-Team will be uniting in the beautiful Peruvian Andes mountains in Cusco where we are joining the South America instructors and administrators for a week of orientation to prepare for our journey in Central America. Any question don’t hesitate to contact us at: [email protected] and [email protected]
Saludos y abrazos !