Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Pre-Trip Reflections: Sarah Kleine

Pre-Trip Reflection

I leave for Nicaragua and turn twenty in seven days and needless to say I'm really excited. I am expecting this trip to be an experience of a lifetime. However, I am EXTREMELY nervous about one aspect of trip: living with a host family. I am worried about communicating with my family because I know zero Spanish. But then I remember Valentina, a young girl who stayed with my family in the summer of 2006 who just so happened to be in the complete opposite situation (she knew Spanish, but did not know any English) and use her as an example that you don't need to speak the same language to successfully communicate. There are so many things that I am excited to do and see in Nicaragua that this worry seems almost trivial. I am excited to all the sites in Nicaragua because the landscape and animals that are found in Nicaragua sound absolutely beautiful. I'm excited to learn about a new culture, especially one that I have had only minimal exposure to before. I am excited to learn about some of the problems that Nicaraguans are currently facing and the ways in which I may be able to help. I am excited to become more than a tourist to this beautiful country.

Nature in Nicaragua

Nicaragua still has a rainforest, which has been relatively untouched despite its shrinking size. There are two big reserves: the Indio Maiz Biological Reserve in the southeastern part of Nicaragua and the Bosawàs Biosphere Reserve in the northeastern part of Nicaragua. There are also tropical dry forests found throughout the Pacific side of the country, where many tropical plants, trees, and animals live only without the continual source of water in the rainforest. Another type of forest found in Nicaragua is the semideciduous tropical forest, a forest with more rain and humidity than the dry forest, yet without the permanent rainfall and humidity of wet tropical forests. This forest is typically found on the Pacific side at elevations roughly between 400 meters to 800 meters high. Another, very special type of forest found in Nicaragua is cloud forests, found on the upper parts of volcanoes or mountains which are permanently enclosed by clouds. The permanent and high humidity enable the trees to hold their leaves all year and creates high growth and productivity rates, often resulting in very high biodiversity. Plants and animals living in these cloud forests are isolated from other areas, which has resulted in the development of several unique endemic (species only exist at one place in the world) species. Another forest found at the tops of mountains and volcanoes is a dwarf forest, where all the plants and trees are very short due to continuously strong winds.

Lake Nicaragua is the largest lake of Central America, and was called a 'fresh water sea' by the Spanish conquerors. Inside the lake is an archipelago of islands called Solentiname. This lake was also home to the bull shark. However, during the Somoza dictatorship a fin processing plant captured and killed almost every shark. There are also beautiful lagoons throughout Nicaragua, most notably the Apoyo Lagoon, located between the cities of Granada and Masaya. Unfortunately some of these lakes and lagoons have been contaminated, exemplified by Lake Managua.

Bordered by two oceans, Nicaragua is home to a lot of beach. On the Pacific side you can find many hilled beaches and bays that offer great swimming, surfing, fishing, and other water sport possibilities. These beaches also offer the sight of many beautiful sun sets. The Caribbean coast offers even more tropical settings, where one can experience turquoise water, white sand, and green palms.

There are more than 700 species of birds found in Nicaragua. Because of the lack of heavy industry, even the capital city Managua offers a breeding place for birds and beautiful birds can be spotted in the middle of the city. Common birds spotted in Nicaragua are motmots, hummingbirds, vultures, pelicans, trogons and the quetzal.

Nicaragua is home to many different types of mostly smaller mammals. In the forests animals like pumas, ocelots, ant-eaters, monkeys, sloths and tapirs can be found but are very hard to see. Along the coast some of the largest mammals on earth can also be seen, whales and dolphins. The sea and ocean are also the breeding grounds for many sea turtles. Other commonly sighted animals include green iguanas, black iguanas, green basilisks, caiman, and the Asian house geckos.

A Little About Me...
I am a sophomore Health Sciences major with a pre-med concentration. I come from Bangor, Pennsylvania, a small town in the Pocono Mountains. I am involved with DiscipleMakers Christian Fellowship Club, and Pre Health Professions Club. I am a big fan of books, stars, the color yellow and snow, but I am not a fan of ketchup, rain, dirty feet, or sprained ankles.

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