The night before, I was curious as to who was going to take us around to show us the Latitude Project, a Non-Profit Organization that addresses the needs of communities near San Juan del Sur but are difficult to get to because of rough terrain and flooding during the rainy season. It turns out that two sisters, Jennifer and Alanna, founded the Latitude Project, and they’re quite the inspiration. They started a couple of years back and believed that the importance of helping is to listen and to understand the needs of the community. Many of these families had inadequate roofs and needed a bigger place for students to go to school that was nearby. Through their own funding and determination, the sisters acquired the resources and the people of the communities they were in had to decide who really needed the roofs. The roofs were then put together and placed by the community to make sure rain wouldn’t damage homes.
As for the education, the sisters created a small school for younger kids and a preschool. This community was interesting, especially the children. They’re not used to having visitors. Everyone knows everyone in this specific community. The children were very shy. They were very surprised about having strangers in the room. We tried to engage and eventually got some of the kids to engage. We gave the kids stickers and despite the shyness, they did say bye. On this note though, I really have to commend the sisters. Alanna mentioned how the kids had a similar reaction when her and Jennifer arrived and now the kids were really happy about seeing them both. Aside from creating these educational areas, they also take the children to the beach. Despite being near a beach, hardly anyone has a vehicle. There is probably one person with a motorbike in the community and that’s it. Everyone probably has horses. Horses in Nicaragua are cheap compared to other places: $200. Even so, that is still a bit expensive for some of these families.
We walked over to several houses, all of which greeted our hosts with open arms. The sisters and the people in the community got along so well, it was quite beautiful. The sisters were checking on the community because they were leaving. The sisters maintain the project with their own funding, working several jobs for several months and then coming back to Nicaragua. So much effort put into helping this community and a few other communities, it's quite an enormous feat. I really admire their work and hopefully good fortune is in their while trying to find donors.
Towards the end of our tour, we walked into the house of a family, which had doubled the size of their house within a month. They're quite a big family, 8 or so, trying to squeeze into a house. They had little decorations and a tiny garden in front of their door entrance. That's one thing I think that gets lost with having too many things: appreciation and making the best of what you presently have. Despite the little they own, the family painted a few things and added a few pictures to the house. It was lovely taking a look at everything and just seeing how they were still happy. They welcomed us and they were sweet. The sisters took note of the decor and we followed suit. The family members smiled as they said that they drew some of the artwork on the house.
We met the little girl in the preschool the sisters had created. She was very shy and at one point we thought that maybe she thought we were after her bag! The family then decided to show us the inside of the house and the reality is that beds are what consist of the inside of the house. There are no doors, rather, a curtain or a blanket separates the doors and even the bed spaces. We bided adieu to the family and we walked back to our truck. A long day in the sun and we didn't let that get in the way of embracing all of the information and effort the sisters have put into this community. We returned to our vehicles and left a few things for the school, and left them with a little piece of St. John's with the string bag.
We then parted ways with the sisters in San Juan del Sur. They have a few things to take care of and we had sometime to take a look at things and we decided to take a trip to Christ of the Mercy. This Christ stands at 79 feet tall. An awesome view and an amazing sculpture which shows the faith of the people of Nicaragua.
Afterward, we headed back to the hotel and had pizza for dinner. This pizza was special because it was made by a man from Rome and it really reminded me of my days abroad in Rome. Very thankful for that experience and this one. After several slices and stories, we were off to the hotel, to rest for the next day.