Quick Quiz: Which country lays claim as the safest in Latin America? So safe that it’s crime rates are lower than that of France, Germany and the United States?
The answer is Nicaragua.
Surprised? I was. It’s been over twenty years since the end of the Sandinista-Contra war that ravaged this poor nation, nestled between Costa Rica to the south and Honduras to the north. It’s a country rich in history both recent and old. I’ve set my sights on the New World’s oldest city, Granada, founded in 1524 by the Spanish Conquistador Francisco de Cordoba. It is here I will set up my base to explore the city and surrounding communities. Nicaragua is a very geologically active country, with dozens of volcanoes, many of which are active. One such volcano, Masaya, vents noxious gases daily from it’s lava filled crater and as such, makes it difficult and dangerous just to breathe near the caldera. Nevertheless, in a measure most undoubtedly forbidden in the United States, visitors are allowed to walk right up and sniff away.
I can’t wait.
Perhaps the most exciting aspect of the upcoming trip is to meet the teachers, volunteers and students of La Esperanza Granada, or ‘Hope Granada’. La Esperanza Granada is volunteer group founded in Granada in 2002. Their focus is to help provide education to the children in some of the most poverty stricken communities in and around the city. What’s great is that the volunteers go right into the schools to help the teachers and students. They provide tutoring, run sports programs and show them how to use computers. I’ve been in touch with one of the programs directors, Pauline, and we plan to meet during my visit. I will bring needed supplies to the foundation that will hopefully make a difference in the education of some of the region’s poorest children.