After an exciting and intense trip to Nicaragua, the students and staff members are adjusting again to the routine here at the peaceful Atenas campus. This international trip to our neighboring country was an eye-opening experience for the students. During the first three days on the island of Ometepe, we studied in-depth some site-specific topics, getting a firsthand look at lake ecology, invasive species, and San Juan River bi-national watershed management.
The students also conducted a field exercise, performing GIS mapping of petroglyphs in Hacienda Magdalena Cooperative and of the trail to the summit of the Maderas Volcano. Ascending the Volcano from 150 to just over 1300 meters above the sea level was quite a challenge! However, the enchanted elfin forest and a lagoon at the crater made the strenuous hike highly rewarding. The final product of this adventure will be a map of the trail that can be used by the local guides in their future hikes in this marvelous place.
Leaving Ometepe, we then moved to the colonial city of Granada where we based ourselves for our daily trips to nearby interesting sites. This second part of the trip was full of cultural and outdoor activities. As part of a follow up research project on the peoples’ perception of climate change, the students conducted surveys in the cities of Rivas, Granada, Masaya, and Managua. Despite the language barrier for some students, all of them managed to complete their assigned number of surveys about which the students were very happy and proud. Further, the hikes and the amazing views along the trails of Masaya and Mombacho volcanoes made a great balance between city surveys and wilderness. Yes, we are back in Atenas to continue with the everyday life here at the campus, but carry with us the long-lasting good memories of our Nicaragua trip.