Philip and Thomas Montalban

Philip Montalban and his son, Thomas Montalban.

Philip Montalban played a short concert for us on the back porch at Quaker House tonight, and gave us a history lesson of the Caribbean coast of the country.

Montalban is a reggae artist from Bluefields, Nicaragua now living in Managua. He has visited the Washburn campus for concerts three different times and we hope he can join us again soon.

When Rick Ellis walked onto the porch, Montalban stopped talking and flashed a full-face smile.

“Oh, my brother! How are you doing?” Montalban said. After a hug Montalban said “We have a big link with Mr. Rick.”

I think it’s safe to say we all felt lucky that their connection was being shared with us, too.

For us, he played a variety of songs representing many of the ethnic groups and cultures that make up the Caribbean coast, including the Mosquito indians, Garafina and Creole.

Montalban told us about the history of colonization in the Caribbean and the eastern half of Nicaragua, which until the 1890s was actually a separate country, including influences of the English, Dutch and Spanish.

“It’s a nice little country,” Montalban said of his homeland. “Now, we have to ways of living without creating unnecessary division. We are citizens of the universe. You and me are human beings on earth doing the same things.”

The experience concluded with a sing-along, with us as the response to a song Montalban wrote in honor of Bob Marley. Watch for a video of the sing along when we get back to Kansas.

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At Laguna de Apoyo

At Laguna de Apoyo

Laguna de Apoyo was much larger than the word Laguna — lagoon — would suggest. It was huge, with the sound of the ocean. And completely breathtaking.

We had hours to do as our hearts desired — kayaking the lake, swimming, laying out on platforms or in chairs on the beach, playing cards and enjoying fresh fish, salad, fajitas and the like at the top-notch resort restaurant.

Laguna de Apoyo was not a national park — that will come later in our trip. It was, instead, a private resort beach. ProNica covered our entry fee and our meals and we were free to relax. On the bus ride back, we chatted about how peaceful we felt. How nice it was to just be for an entire day. And how fortunate we were to start 2014 in such fashion.

More soon.

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We enjoyed our more tropical surroundings with bowls of fresh fruit this morning, plus eggs, coffee, cereal and other options as we liked.

White pineapple, banana and papaya are readily available — and full of amazing flavor — so there were bowls of them waiting for us and we nearly polished it off.

bowls of fruit

The bowl on the left started as a salad of white pineapple, banana and papaya. The bowl of papaya on the right was brought out when we were getting low on fruit.

Dr. Ellis made scrambled eggs for several of the Ichabods, and many drank coffee. We’ll leave in about an hour for the volcano crater lake at the national park — Laguna de Apoyo. We’ll get to see Managua in the daylight today, too.

Quaker House, where we are staying for the next few days, has WiFi so we’ll update again when we return.

We hope the second day of 2014 is going well for you all. We’re already having an amazing experience.

One more thing. Please don’t worry about us having quality wanter to drink. There are two large coolers that filter our water and we are all encouraged to refill our personal bottles often.

water filters

The water filters at Quaker House

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We are getting settled in at Quaker House. Our adventure in Nicaragua has begun!

Our journey to Managua was uneventful as far as airport travel goes. Our group made both flights with plenty of time to spare, everyone has all of the luggage they had when we left Kansas City and no one left anything on either plane or the bus. Good start, right?

group in Atlanta

In Atlanta

The Atlanta airport had art all over, plus tons of options for eating and shopping. We ended up with plenty of time to fill our bellies “with the last American food for two weeks.”

Even Travis, who said he is an extremely picky eater, found something. And Suzie shared an important tip: Don’t load up on greasy food when we get home. Last year she had a fast food hamburger in the airport and “regretted that decision.”

It is easy to see how having two people who have been to Nicaragua before in the group is going to be a huge help.

We are ready. Jenna got several Christmas gifts to help with the trip, including a water bottle with a powerful filter. Deanna and Nathan planned their packing around items they can leave behind – including sleeping bags. Katy has already used her Spanish skills to help out the entire group. Meghan has been reading up on the history of the country. And right now, the group is chatting on the back porch at Quaker House.

Two big surprises. First — If we can stand the taste of all of the chlorine, we can actually drink the tap water. We’ll likely opt for the filtered water available at ProNica and elsewhere we will visit.

Second — We can’t flush our toilet paper. It goes in a trash can. The plumbing system here can’t handle it. Although everything in the bowl is no problem, remembering to put all paper in a trash bin may be tricky.

Tomorrow we relax at a volcano lake. Ashante got to relaxing tonight with a ukulele at Quaker House. She played and sang bits of “Somewhere Over the Rainbow.”
Ashante jams

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