May 9, 2008

Butler Volleyball Arrives In Nicaragua

May 9, 2008

Butler associate head coach Karen Weatherington details the sights and experiences as the Bulldog volleyball team travels through Nicaragua.

Greetings from Central America!

We arrived safely in Managua yesterday and the adventure has begun.

The trip was uneventful, easy and fun. After a groggy yet giddy 4:30 a.m. arrival at the Indy airport and a smooth arrival in Fort Lauderdale, we boarded Spirit Airlines for Managua after a brief layover. The flight proved to be wonderful precursor of things to come.

The two hour jaunt from FLL to Managua boasted as many US citizens as international travelers. Business folks, vacationers and surf dudes from Southern California filled a dozen or more seats as we shared why we were coming to Nicaragua.

The surf dudes told us that it's the peak of surf season. Most of them own homes within an hour of the city and surf for a living. They shared insider tips on Nica living and Nica cuisine and extended several invitations to surf. We politely declined but assured we would look for them when we visited the beaches of San Juan del Sur later in the trip.

As most of the Dawgs nodded off, the surf dudes told me to make sure I enjoyed the views from my comfy window seat. As we banked westward over the Caribbean, the clear skies dotted with cotton ball clouds provided a wondrous window to the world. The bluest waters were sprinkled with white beaches, sandy atolls and coral reefs. It was mesmerizing.

The Dawgs began to stir awake about an hour into the flight at the attendant's direction to complete our customs documents. We came in low over the Nica terrain and the sight of Lake Nicaragua and high desert/tropical landscape was amazing. A volcano sits center of the lake and is filled with dark blue water...think Lake Tahoe untouched. We are scheduled to hike the volcano on one of our off days....WOW!

After a classic international landing complete with tradition applause to celebrate a safe arrival, we had the quick and easy transition through Customs and Immigration. It took less than 30 minutes and we were all official guests of the Nicaragua for the $5US entry visa fee.

Senior libero Nina Inic, a Serbian National, spent an additional five minutes for verification of her visa and with a gracious apology for her wait the Customs officer welcomed her with a smile.

Our luggage was waiting as was our host. David, a volley guy and member of the Bring It Promotions team, greeted us and escorted us on the two minute walk to our hotel - The Best Western Las Mercedes. We settled into our classic tropical bungalows and like any other true Bulldog...headed to the pools.

There we met 39 students from colleges across the US assigned to a Peace Corps unit. They are waiting transportation to host families across Nicaragua to teach English, International Business development, Nursing and more. We traded stories of our upcoming service learning assignments.

Our host treated us to dinner by the pool complete with evening breeze and traditional Nica food. Plantains, Nicaraguan cheese, beans and savory meats are standard with, of course, rice and beans. The Dawgs tried a variety of dishes and settled in for the night after a chat in the lobby and more introductions to new friends from the US.

Tomorrow we start the tour with a visit to the markets and 5:00 p.m. competition against the Nicaraguan National team. The team is excited to be back in the gym and so am I. Each of the Dawgs will send an update of our trip. Thanks for all who made this awesome experience possible.

Asta Luego and GO DAWGS!