Booking your Flight and Early Arrivals
Airfare is not included in the YASC Program Fee. Please book your round-trip ticket to Managua, Nicaragua as soon as possible.
Arrivals: Please arrive before 2pm on Saturday, March 15th. Last year, Saturday flights to Managua filled up quickly and many volunteers arrived a day early. If your flight arrives on Friday, March 14th, you will be responsible for booking a hotel room at the Best Western in Managua.
Departures: Volunteers who are not planning to stay in Nicaragua on their own, after the trip ends, should plan to depart on Saturday, March 22.
All hotel stays from March 15 – 22 are included in the program fee.
Some immunizations are recommended for travel to Nicaragua. The AYA cannot provide medical advice, but we advise that you consult with your physician regarding immunizations. It is best to do this several weeks before the trip, since some medications may take time to order. For general information about immunizations and health issues in the Nicaragua, you may also visit the Center for Disease Control and Prevention website at www.cdc.gov.
You will need a valid passport in order to travel to/from Nicaragua. For information about passports and visas, please visit the U.S. State Department travel website at www.travel.state.gov/passport.
Note: It can often take up to several months to order a new passport. If you do not already have a current passport in hand, please contact the passport office immediately at 877-487-2778
Helpful Donation Items
Please check back later in the fall to see a list of valuable donation items for each project site and community.
(Courtesy of Wikipedia)
Nicaragua is the largest country in Central America. It is bordered by Honduras to the north and Costa Rica to the south. It is also located at the center of the Central American isthmus that forms a land bridge between North and South America. The country is situated between 11 and 14 degrees north of the Equator in the Northern Hemisphere, which places it entirely within the tropics. The Pacific Ocean lies to the west, and the Caribbean Sea to the east; Nicaragua’s Caribbean coast is part of the Western Caribbean Zone. The country’s physical geography divides it into three major zones: Pacific lowlands, wet, cooler central highlands, and the Caribbean Lowlands. On the Pacific side of the country are the two largest fresh water lakes in Central America—Lake Managua and Lake Nicaragua. Surrounding these lakes and extending to their northwest along the rift valley of the Gulf of Fonseca are fertile lowland plains, whose soil is highly enriched with ash from nearby volcanoes. Nicaragua’s abundance of biologically significant and unique ecosystems contribute to Mesoamerica’s designation as a biodiversity hotspot. The Central American Volcanic Arc runs through the spine of the country, earning Nicaragua its notably famous nickname: The Land of Lakes and Volcanoes.
The Spanish Empire conquered the region in the 16th century and the territory became associated with the Viceroyalty of New Spain and later the Captaincy General of Guatemala. Alongside the Spanish, the British established a protectorate on the eastern seaboard beginning in the middle of the 17th century, and ending roughly two centuries later with the rise of the Spanish Viceroyalty of New Granada in the coast. The eastern seaboard retains its colonial heritage; English and Jamaican Patois are commonly spoken and the culture in the Atlantic region identifies as being more Caribbean. In 1821, Nicaragua achieved its independence from Spain and joined the Federal Republic of Central America in 1823, later leaving the Federal Republic in 1838. Nicaragua increasingly became a subject of substantial interest because of its geographic position for a canal that would service the Windward Passage. Roughly a century after operations of the Panama Canal commenced and one hundred and eighty five years after the initial plans for the Nicaraguan Canal waterway, the prospect of a Nicaraguan ecocanal has remained the subject of interest, with its construction in progress. Eighteen years after leaving the federal Republic it also became the center of William Walker’s Golden Circle filibustering in Central America. Since its independence, Nicaragua has undergone periods of political unrest, military intervention on behalf of the United States, dictatorship and fiscal crisis—the most notable causes that lead to the Nicaraguan Revolution. Although the Somoza family ruled the country in the form of a dictatorship for forty years, Nicaragua was among the first countries to sign the United Nations Charter in 1945. Prior to the revolution, Nicaragua was one of Central America’s wealthiest and most developed countries. The revolutionary conflict, paired with Nicaragua’s 1972 earthquake reversed the country’s prior economic standing. Despite the harsh economic effects of both phenomena, Nicaragua is a representative democratic republic which has experienced economic growth and political stability in recent years. In 1990, Nicaragua elected Violeta Chamorro as its president, making it the first country in the Americas and in Latin American history to democratically elect a female head of state and the second country in the Western Hemisphere to do so, following Iceland’s democratic election of Vigdís Finnbogadóttir.
The population in Nicaragua, hovering at approximately 6 million, is multiethnic. Roughly one quarter of the nation’s population lives in the capital city, Managua, making Managua the second largest city in Central America (following Guatemala City). Other major cities include León, Chinandega, Granada, Matagalpa and Jinotega. Segments of the population include indigenous native tribes from the Mosquito Coast, Europeans, Africans, Asians and people of Middle Eastern origin. The main language is Spanish, although native tribes on the eastern coast speak their native languages, such as Miskito, Sumo and Rama, as well as English Creole. Of the Spanish-speaking countries in Central America, Nicaragua is where the use of the voseo form of address is most widespread. The mixture of cultural traditions has generated substantial diversity in art, cuisine, literature, and music. Nicaragua has earned recognition and various colloquial names in reference to its geographic location, cultural achievements and recent economic development. Nicaragua’s biological diversity, warm tropical climate, and active volcanoes make it an increasingly popular destination for tourists, surfers, biologists, and volcanologists. The country has also been dubbed The Land of Poets, due to various literary contributions of renown Nicaraguan writers, including Rubén Darío, Ernesto Cardenal and Gioconda Belli.
About León, Nicaragua
(Courtesy of Wikipedia)
León is a department (state) in northwestern Nicaragua (5,138 km2). It is also the second largest city in Nicaragua, after Managua. It was founded by the Spaniards as León Santiago de los Caballeros and rivals Granada, Nicaragua, in the number of historic Spanish colonial homes and churches. As of 2005, the city had an estimated population of about 175,000 people which increases sharply during university season with many students coming from other Nicaraguan provinces. It is the capital and municipality of the León department.
León is located along the Río Chiquito (Chiquito River), some 90 km northwest of Managua, and some 18 km east of the Pacific Ocean coast. Although less populous than Managua, León has long been the intellectual center of the nation, with its university founded in 1813. León is also an important industrial, agricultural (sugar cane, cattle, peanut, plantain, sorghum) and commercial center for Nicaragua.
The first city named León in Nicaragua was established in 1524 by Francisco Hernández de Córdoba about 20 miles east of the present site. The city was abandoned in 1610, for unknown reasons. The principal cause is commonly given as a necessary abandonment after an eruption of the Momotombo volcano, located only a couple miles away, which left extensive damage in the form of flooding from Lake Managua. However, the speed of the construction of the new León suggest that the old city was in great part dismantled, moved, and rebuilt, and therefore must have happened before the destruction of the site by the volcano. Other possible reasons for the move include the need for fresh agricultural land, the need for higher concentrations of natives to use as a labour force, and perhaps also fear of Momotombo erupting - although unrecorded, it could have been releasing gas, ash, or other volcanic material for some time before the eventual eruption. The inhabitants decided to move to its current location next to the Indigenous town of Subtiava. The ruins of the abandoned city are known as “León Viejo” and were excavated in 1960. In the year 2000, León Viejo was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
León has fine examples of Spanish Colonial architecture, including the grand Cathedral of the Assumption, built from 1706 to 1740, with two towers added in 1746 and 1779. In the year 2011, the Cathedral of the Assumption was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
When Nicaragua withdrew from the United Provinces of Central America in 1839, León became the capital of the new nation of Nicaragua. For some years the capital shifted back and forth between León and Granada, Nicaragua, with Liberal regimes preferring León and Conservative ones Granada, until as a compromise Managua was agreed upon to be the permanent capital in 1858.
In 1950 the city of León had a population of 31,000 people. Nicaraguan President Anastasio Somoza García was shot and mortally wounded in the city on September 21, 1956.
The building of El museo de tradiciones y leyendas was once the infamous XXI jail before the 1979 revolution. There are also several political murals around the city.
About the Community of El Trohilo
The community of El Trohilo is located about 45 minutes from the center of León. It consists of approximately 2300 residents. In this poverty-stricken community, as in most of Nicaragua, the majority of residents live on just $2 per day or less. Educational opportunities are severely limited and the schools lack basic supplies including books, chalk boards and enough chairs and tables for their 45 pre-school students. Trohilo does not have a high school and only half of the children are educated beyond 6th grade; those fortunate enough to attend secondary school usually attend a Saturday-only school in a different village just once per week. Many teenager girls are pregnant and/or married by the age of 15. Most residents, even those who have the privilege of graduating from high school, work in sugar cane fields, as gold miners, or in agricultural jobs and these jobs have their its own risks.
Health issues are a concern in the community and kidney failure accounts for 80% of the deaths especially in men 35-45 years old. Asthma, diarrhea, and chronic skin conditions are also prevalent. The community currently has a health post with a nurse and a midwife who have aided in the prevention of maternal deaths, but much more medical care and education is needed to help this community.