Dec 12

“Tortugas Marinas” Blog: Part 6 - By Yaritza Aponte / SeaWorld Orlando

It is Monday and we were back to work at 5:00 a.m. I found it very hard to wake up this morning after spending the weekend as a tourist - sightseeing, shopping and eating “normal” food. Since we have been working in the communities, all of the meals cooked by the families have been very traditional -rice, beans, and pork - things I normally don’t eat. So last night when I had dinner at Papa John’s Pizza, it was like a piece of heaven. After having such a restful weekend, I guess I got kind of spoiled because I was not ready to wake up this morning.

We drove over three hours to La Poma Elementary School. While we were expecting 34 students, when we arrived there were only two students and the teacher. We had to walk from house to house, encouraging students to come to our presentation. In the end, we managed to get 30 of the 34 students, ranging from the first through the sixth grade.

The teacher, Jeffer Solis, expressed his concerns about school attendance - and told us of his own challenges just getting there. Every Monday, he takes a bus and then walks an additional four hours to the school. Since the trip is so far, he stays in the community during the week and only returns home on Fridays. While I have met dedicated teachers before, it became obvious that Mr. Solis has a very special relationship with his students. Initially the children were excited and loud, but once he started speaking they all got quiet and listened. You could tell that there was a mutual respect in this classroom. It was so great. He said a prayer and sang the Nicaraguan National Anthem, making our presentation feel like it was a huge event for their school - and again I was so happy to be there. When we left, the students were running after our truck yelling “thank you” and “goodbye.” I felt like a celebrity!

Tomorrow, there is a huge beach cleanup effort in Astillero. Members of this community are so united that both adults and children work together. We decided to help by buying bags and gloves for the volunteers and getting everything ready for the big event. Since we still have two schools to visit tomorrow, we won’t be able to take part in the cleanup, but I know that we can rely on this wonderful community to get the job done!