Wednesday, October 27, 2021

Pulling through another tough year

The pandemic kept a hold of our lives for longer than we hoped. Although then international shutdowns have stymied progress, we cannot emphasize enough how your continued support continues to help lives and protect the environment. 

Nicaraguan guides have effectively lost international tourism, which supports the majority of their profession, so many returned to their family farms or left Ometepe to seek employment elsewhere. 

Through all this difficulty, Centro PUMA has continued to support our cadre of guides leading community endeavors. We continue with weekly english classes:

and english classes at our partner location in Las Pilas:

We have also focused on outdoor activities, including hikes with the graduates from our Junior Ranger program. 

We are also very proud to continue our native tree program. During the summer of 2021 we planted another 2000 trees. Our guides collected native seeds in the spring and set up our tree nursery in a new location. Here they are preparing the planting soil:

Elieth shows some of the newly planted tree seedlings

Of course, the most important part are the local children who help us plant the trees

We always reward them with a healthy meal

a fun outing

and end with a swim to cool off and clean up!

We hosted multiple tree-planting outings with dozens of kids

We also had families "adopt" a native tree to pledge to plant in their home care for.

As everything was more difficult this year during the pandemic, so was travel. We, Kate and Jeff (directors of Guias Unidos who sponsor Centro PUMA), were not able to visit the project over the past 1.5 years. Instead, we worked hard at seasonal guiding jobs in the USA. When the National Parks laid off thousands of employees due to Covid, we got jobs as telescope guides at Dark Ranger Telescope Tours in Utah.

We then returned back to the park service for a winter season at the Everglades and a summer season at Sequoia National Park. At the Everglades, during the height of the pandemic, we ran entirely virtual tours of the park, either rangering in the field with iPads to students around the country

or moderating the programs via computer in an office, always social distanced and masked when in groups together. 

Now, fully vaccinated and itching for adventure, we are heading back to Nicaragua in November. We are looking forward to seeing how much the kids have grown, to working with our fellow guides again, and to setting up our new location. Did we mention we have a new location? It's just a couple blocks from the old location, now 1 block south of Altagracia's Central Park, in a historic house with a large property. Although there's a lot of work to fix up the new place, we will have autonomy over the yard and garden, which is integral to our project, and the new premises is much more secure and safe than the old one.

We will be open in November to local classes with kids, and after some interior renovation and decoration, we hope to reopen Centro PUMA to tourists in early 2022. Come and visit, there will be volunteer/guest quarters!