Monthly Archives: September 2012

Photo Journalism Friday: Two Wheels & Tres Tonas

San Juan del Sur, Nicaragua

Culture Shock in Canada

1 small bottle of water – $3
18 bottles of beer – $40
Haircut, color & brow wax – $170
Sushi – $40
A few groceries – $57

Cha-ching…cha-ching…cha-ching!  

It was day 4 of my 1st trip home to Calgary when I officially started to freak out about how much money I was going to spend during my 5 week stay. If I continued at this pace the MasterCard was in for a serious beating.

After spending 8 months in Nicaragua it didn’t take me long to figure out what I had missed most in Canada.

1.  My Nephew Aiden – How sweet it was to be reunited with my adorable 11 month old nephew Aiden. From camping, to going for walks, to seeing Aiden through his 10 & 11 month birthdays, to reading Llama, Llama Wakey Wake over and over again and being there as he learned to crawl the time I spent with him was definitely the highlight of my trip.

– Day 2 in Calgary with Aiden

Moyie Lake, British Columbia - Canada

– Hangin’ in the Hammock Swing – Moyie Lake, British Columbia

– A rocking chair & a shirt from Nica for Aiden

2.  My Girlfriends (especially my sister) – Getting together with my special gang of girlfriends and being able to pick up right where we left off was a great feeling.  Heart to heart talks with my sis was something I think we both needed.

– Good Times with Girlfriends @ Melrose Bar & Cafe

Canmore, Alberta - Canada

– My sister Sally & I  – Canmore, Alberta

3.  Shopping I know my stores and I know my sizes. I know where to find the best deals on my favorite products and I love a good sale. Planning my visit at the end of the summer season was a good move – EVERYTHING was on sale. I so miss being able to get good quality clothing and the products I love at great prices.

– Aiden was such a good little shopper!

4.  The Food – $40 on sushi (for one sitting) was a bit expensive, but I gotta tell ya, it was worth every penny. Strawberries, blueberries and Activia yogurt were part of my daily diet.  And although not technically classified as food, I couldn’t seem to get enough 5 cent candy from Mac’s.

Joey Crowfoot - Calgary, AB

– Mmm! Tuna Sashimi Salad

5.  My Hairstylist – Cassidy from Ca Va Bien rocks! After 8 months without a real haircut it felt great to have my hair cut & colored by a professional I trust. Now if only I could convince her to move to Nicaragua.

6.  TV – Specifically the Slice channel. I have to admit I watched quite a few episodes of Say Yes to the Dress and What Not to Wear and even caught a couple of episodes of Intervention Canada while I was home.  Hey – don’t judge me! 

As we pulled into the driveway at my sister’s house on July 26th I felt like I had never left. Aside from Aiden, not much had changed.  

But after spending two months in Calgary – 10 months after departing on a Nicaraguan adventure with nothing but a couple of suitcases, and my husband Gord – I realized I’ve changed.

I’m thrifty now. I’m more laid back. I’m less concerned or caught up in the minor details of day to day and I’ve realized not everything has to be perfect. I don’t need a fancy house, or a designer handbag to make me happy. More importantly, I realized just how special time spent with family, friends and loved ones is and how much it means to me.

My cousin Nicole & I – Canmore, Alberta

– Chowin’ down on hot dogs! – Eau Claire Campground – Kananaskis, AB

Unfortunately all good things must eventually come to an end.  

– Almost packed & ready to go!

– Just minutes after this photo was taken tears started to flow.

Saying goodbye sucks, but as the plane left the runway in Calgary – 285 days after my Nicaraguan adventure began – I was more excited than sad. This time I wasn’t leaving home – I was going home.  

Photo Journalism Friday: Dog Days of Summer

This photo I shot today in Laguna de Apoyo couldn’t be more perfect for Photo Journalism Friday.  It’s my first day back in Nicaragua – after spending two months in Canada – and it just so happens to be the last day of summer in North America.

Signed,
Elisha in Nica

dog days
noun

1. the sultry part of the summer, supposed to occur during the period that Sirius, the Dog Star, rises at the same time as the sun: now often reckoned from July 3 to August 11.

2.  a period marked by lethargy, inactivity, or indolence.

Photo Journalism Friday: A Win-Win Situation

Were on our way out of the town of San Juan del Oriente when we spotted this woman walking up the road.  Dressed in a bright blue dress and frilly white apron she carried a bag of watermelons on her head.  I thought she’d make a good subject for a photo so I hopped out of the truck and approached her.

“¿Puedo tomar su foto?” 

Like many Nicaraguans she appeared a bit shy about having her picture taken. 

As she waved her arms around and spoke to me in Spanish I click, click, clicked down on the shutter button of my camera. I had no idea what she was saying so I nodded and smiled. Confident that I had the shot I reached into my pocket for my lens cap. 

I walked towards her, took her soft and weathered hand in mine and kissed her on the cheek.

“Muchas gracias!” I said.

I watched as she dug through her canvas bag that she held on her lap. She took out her bible and placed it on her lap. It looked well used.  She eventually found what she was looking for – two Watchtower pamphlets.  She handed them to me and smiled. 

She took advantage of this moment to spread the word and I got another great photo to add to my collection.

Youth Surf Competition: San Juan del Sur, Nicaragua

– The next generation of surfers

On Sunday afternoon the San Juan del Sur Youth weekend was approaching the grand finale of events – the Youth Surf Competition.  

We had some free time left until the competition started and I noticed things got a little quiet on the beach.  I thought that maybe the group was fatigued after all of the weekend activities, but when I took a closer look around at the young surfers I realized they were getting their game faces on.  After all, there were 4 brand new Firewire surfboards on the line.  To put things into perspective the value of one Firewire surfboard is equivalent to four months of the average Nicaraguan salary.

– Surrounded by women, but he’s focused on one thing…victory!

– Pre-contest board inspection to pass the time

The best waves of the day were forecasted to start around four o’clock so we tried to relax and wait for the show to begin.  Time seemed to drag in anticipation of the competition as the young athletes sat quietly gathering their thoughts.  

Finally it was time to go!  The contestants and coaches grabbed their boards and made their way to the water.

– Coach, Safety Coach & athlete head out into the waves

– Super Grom = Super Confident

Just minutes had passed between quiet reflection time and kids riding their first waves of the heat.  There was no lack of energy now.  There was hardly a time when there wasn’t at least one surfer up riding a wave.  

There were four heats in the competition:

  • Juniors (14-16 years old)
  • Groms (11-13 years old)
  • Super Groms (10 & under)
  • Girls (all ages)

All the kids saved their best rides of the day for the competition, but a few of them really stood out. The volunteers and competitors whistled and cheered from their places on the beach.  Some rides were so spectacular we just looked at each other in surprise and admiration and at times almost forgot to cheer.

– Coach & athlete celebrate a good session

Once all heats were complete the pressure switched to the judge’s table.  Cory and Kelly knew the significance of the Firewire boards to these kids. Kate from Chica Brava stands behind the judges with a look of trepidation on her face.

– The judges reviewing their scores

The young surfers paced back and forth trying to relieve some on their nervous energy. Looking at their faces you could tell, that for them, time was standing still.

– Trying to be patient

– Waiting and hoping

Just when it seemed like the winners would be announced the draw started for the raffle. There were a dozen prizes to distribute amongst the spectators. The grand prize went to one of the young surfers.  He won a beautiful Eberly board that was donated to help raise money for the weekend activities.  For this one surfer the wait was over, but there were other competitors still waiting patiently to see if they too, would walk away with a new surfboard of heir own.

– This is one happy surfer with his new Eberly surfboard

One by one the top four surfers for each heat were announced and we had another first for the Share the Stoke Foundation.  The first board that they gave to a girl internationally was here in San Juan del Sur.

– Mandy presenting the Firewire board to Virginia

I’m still not sure how it happened, but I had the honor of presenting the board for the Super Grom (10 years and under) category.  Gabriel was one happy 8 year old!

– Our 8 year old Super Grom winner Gabriel

Our Junior winners Norlan and Sebastian were equally as excited to receive their Firewire boards and were happy to pose for photos and do some interviews.

– The winners with some proud parents

– Interview with our Super Grom winner

The 1st Annual San Juan del Sur Youth weekend was a great event for everyone involved and I’m happy to report that the Share the Stoke team is already talking about next year’s event.

Please remember to vote for Share the Stoke Foundation on the Chase Community Giving contest on Facebook.  The charities with the most votes are eligible to receive grants valued between $10 000 – $250 000.

Click HERE to watch the video.  Click HERE to vote.

I would like to give a big shout out to In Nica Now’s stand in photographer – Nicole Williams from Share the Stoke.  These last three posts would not have been possible without your amazing photos. Thanks pal!

Our talented Photographer/Surfer at Remanso Beach

Fishing, Swimming & Surfing in SJDS with Share the Stoke Foundation

In our previous post we mentioned that we needed your help.  After volunteering at a Share the Stoke event this past weekend, I witnesses first hand the difference that this foundation can make in kids lives and their community.

Share the Stoke Foundation (a non-profit dedicated to empowering at-risk youth through the sport of surfing) is one of 2500 charities that has been nominated to participate in the Chase Community Giving contest on Facebook.  Up for grabs is $5 million in grants. Of the 2500 charities participating in the contest the 196 most voted for will receive grants ranging in value from $250,000 for first place down to $10,000 for 100 of the charities.

Cast your vote for
Share the Stoke Foundation
by clicking
 
here!

If everyone flexes their social media muscle we’ll have an incredibly positive and exciting follow up post for you at at the end of September. Please take a few extra minutes to spread the word about this great organization via your Facebook account, email distribution lists at work and home, Tweet about it, share it on your blogs and Pinterest, Stumble Upon, Tumbler & Instagram accounts. 

– The Stoke Team on their way to Nicaragua

The 1st Annual San Juan del Sur Youth Weekend kicked off Saturday morning with a garbage clean up at San Juan Bay.  Only kids that took part in the beach clean-up were eligible to participate in the weekend festivities.  We had a great turn out and managed to collect over 260 pounds of garbage in only a couple of hours.  This event also gave us some time to start building a camaraderie between the kids and volunteers. 

– Some of the crew who took part in the garbage clean up

Later that afternoon Cory and I had the privilege of escorting a group of 18 kids out on a fishing boat. Almost half of the group had never even been on a boat before.  A few of the girls actually held onto each other and screamed when we went over some of the bigger rolling waves.  The trip was much more fun and exciting than we had envisioned.  Thank you Casa del Sur for putting your charter business on hold and taking us all out on your boat.

– Getting ready for our fishing trip

– Almost everyone took a turn as Captain

Sunday events took place at Playa Hermosa which just so happens to be where the TV show Survivor was filmed for two seasons.  Our day started with swimming lessons. It may seem odd that a group of kids that live so close to the water need swimming lessons, but the sad fact is that most Nicaraguans don’t actually know how to swim – which results in multiple drownings every year. 

Given the size of the waves the swimming lessons turned out to be more of a “How Not to Drown Class”. Fortunately it didn’t take long before the kids started to get comfortable in the water. Once that happened they had almost as much fun as the volunteers.

Playa Hermosa, San Juan del Sur

– A little bigger waves than we hoped for swim lessons

Playa Hermosa, SJDS

– “How Not to Drown” Class

Playa Hermosa, San Juan del Sur

– Susan connecting with a couple of local girls

Next up were beginner surf lessons for the kids that felt comfortable in the waves.  I noticed one of the girls that raised her hand indicating she didn’t know how to swim was taking surf lessons.  She actually ended up entered the competition and with the coaching and encouragement of the Stoke girls she caught her first wave.  It was hard to tell who was more excited – her or the Stoke girls – but in the end it was probably the Stoke girls.

Playa Hermosa, San Juan del Sur

– Maria didn’t win the surf competition, but she did win a skateboard from the raffle

Many of the kids were new to surfing, but managed to get up and ride their first waves ever. Volunteers whistling and shouting words of encouragement. The morning had an emotional effect on many of the volunteers, adult surfers and onlookers alike.

Playa Hermosa,San Juan del Sur

– An emotional moment for the Stoke girls

Playa Hermosa, San Juan del Sur

– So close…yet so far!

Playa Hermosa, San Juan del Sur

– Almost there…

Playa Hermosa, San Juan del Sur

– Great effort

The experienced youth surfers took time to warm up for the afternoon competition – or in some cases just goofed off.

Playa Hermosa, San Juan del Sur

– Show off!

Playa Hermosa, San Juan del Sur

– Sharing a wave

Susan, Nicole and Michelle from Share the Stoke collected two suitcases full of school supplies to give out to all of the kids that were at the beach on Sunday.  The kids were super stoked! One of the volunteer teachers in town told me that she was just as happy to see the much needed supplies.

1st Annual SJDS Youth Weekend

– Susan trying to maintain a level of controlled chaos

1st Annual San Juan del Sur Youth Weekend

– Happy recipients of school supplies

All that was left to do was prep the Firewire surfboards for the main event …. the Youth Surf Competition!

1st Annual SJDS Youth Weekend

– Putting the final touches on the prize boards

Share the Stoke Foundation Sponsors the 1st Annual San Juan del Sur Youth Weekend

Half a dozen years ago Kelly Kingston attempted to sell one of her used surfboards on Craigslist.  With no serious offers Kelly decided she’d prefer to give her surfboard away to a deserving kid, rather than sell it for less than it was worth. Kelly changed her ad to read “free to a kid who sends me an email explaining why they deserve to have my surfboard”.  

We all learn from our experiences, but sometimes an experience can change our path in life. 

As expected Kelly was bombarded with emails. But what Kelly didn’t expect was the genuine level of need within her community. This experience helped Kelly realize that she wanted to help kids in her community stay off the streets and in the water and with that Share the Stoke Foundation was born.

– Totally stoked!

A year after giving away her 1st board Kelly and her partner Neily were in San Juan del Sur, Nicaragua enjoying a surf vacation.  My friend Cory took the girls out surfing and they updated him on what was currently happening with Share the Stoke.  They had spent the last year raising money, begging for donated boards and giving those boards away to kids in Florida. It didn’t take this trio long to come to the realization that Florida was not the only place with kids in need and at a crossroad in their young lives.  With Cory’s help Kelly and Neily were able to find a deserving, up & coming surfer who would receive the first board in Nicaragua.  Share the Stoke had gone international!

Fast forward a few years, 5 countries and 74 boards … 

Kelly is back in San Juan del Sur with 6 of her friends sponsoring the 1st Annual “With A Little Stoke From My Friends” San Juan del Sur Youth Weekend. This is where I enter the story as an enthusiastic volunteer that ironically can’t surf and truthfully can barely swim.  

The goal of this weekend was to ensure that all kids in the community could benefit from this event. In order to participate in the weekend activities the kids were required to help in the beach cleanup – we removed 260 pounds of garbage in just a few hours. Other scheduled activities included a fishing trip, beach volleyball and swim and surf lessons – all culminating into a youth surf tournament.  Firewire surfboards were awarded as prizes to the top surfers in each age group.

– Kelly & Cory with participants of the Youth Surf Competition

Share the Stoke Foundation has been working very hard to increase the number of boards it provides to deserving kids each year. They have also been working very hard to find a board sponsor and luckily they’ve finally found one.  Firewire has stepped up to the plate in a huge way by committing to donating 100 new boards in 2013, 200 new boards in 2014 and 300 shiny new boards in 2015! Now that Share the Stoke has the product, it’s time to focus on fundraising so they can distribute these boards to the children that deserve them.  

Stay tuned for my follow up post that will describe how YOU can help!  As a heads up I won’t be asking you to donate money – I’ll actually be asking you to do something that takes less time and effort than tying your shoes and costs absolutely nothing.  

Your participation could result in Share the Stoke being awarded up to $250, 000 of grant money. 

My post will be published on September 6th and will also include detailed stories and more awesome photos of the activities that took place this past weekend!  (Photo credit for all event images goes to Nicole Williams.)  

Please check out the official Share the Stoke site and help spread the word about this great organization by liking them on Facebook. Share the Stoke Foundation and I are counting on you to help make a difference in the lives of some really amazing kids!

Kudos to Share the Stoke Foundation and the volunteers that made this past weekend all possible!  I’d also like to thank the team for allowing me to share in this very special event that had such a positive impact on so many children in my community.

– Kelly – President, Share the Stoke Foundation

– Neily – Vice President, Share the Stoke Foundation

– Lauren (Behind the video camera) Stoke Volunteer

– Nicole – Stoke Volunteer

– Susan – Stoke Volunteer

Matthias – Stoke Volunteer

Cory – Event Organizer

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