Nicaragua: Different Cultural and Natural Settings

Posted: April 2, 2012

Name: Edgardo Arévalo, Ph.D.
Position: Lecturer in Tropical Ecology
Program: Sustainable Development Studies, Costa Rica 

After a marvelous and successful international trip to Nicaragua, the students evaluated their experiences back here in Atenas. We all did what we do here in Costa Rica, but in very different and interesting cultural and natural settings. Our first temporary station was based in the majestic Ometepe Island in Lake Nicaragua. Derived from the indigenous Nahuatl word, Ometepe means two mountains, or rather, two volcanos, that sit on the largest freshwater island in the world! There and actively engaged in field lectures and hikes, we learned about the island, the volcanos, indigenous petroglyphs, shade-grown coffee, bi-country watershed management, lake ecology, ecology of infectious disease and invasive species. We had a great three day stay in Ometepe.

We then moved to a magnificent colonial city where we stayed for the rest of the trip. The city of Granada was founded in 1524 and it claims to be the first European colonial city in mainland America. The students explored the city every day after the daily field trips to a couple of nearby volcanos. A strenuous but amazing hike through Mombacho volcano natural reserve allowed the students to appreciate different perspectives of the surrounding landscape. The cool cloud forest at the top is a forest island embedded in coffee plantations, pastures and towns. In contrast, the heat at Masaya volcano national park gave the student a neat comparison between two different, but nearby, ecosystems. Of course, a glimpse of Managua city served to get some knowledge about the history of Nicaragua.  This trip was an eye-opening experience indeed.