S.W.I.M. Nicaragua, Part One

Over the past few years at LMC, we’ve been working to expand our conservation efforts beyond Juno Beach. We’ve established many new programs and collaborations, but noticed that many organizations were in need of financial and on-the-ground support, which led to the development of S.W.I.M.

S.W.I.M., Serving the World’s Imperiled Marine Life, is a destination, eco-tour program that provides on-the-ground support to conservation organizations around the globe. We launched the program this year in three locations: Juno Beach, Florida, Maui, Hawaii, and Padre Ramos, Nicaragua.

Hannah and I began our journey to Padre Ramos on Wednesday morning; we had about 5 hours of flying time from Miami with a quick layover in Panama City. We arrived into Managua, the capital city of Nicaragua, around midday.  Then, we had a 5-hour drive to the project site in Padre Ramos (located in the province of Chinandega in the NW corner of the country). We picked up a 4X4 truck, threw our gear in the back and were on our way.

The drive was beautiful; we passed through fields of peanuts and sugar cane and several small local villages, all with amazing mountainous views. About 2 hours into our drive, we met up with David Melero, one of the Project Managers we will be working with over the next ten days. David joined us to lead the way for the remainder of the trip, as the last 2.5 hours of the drive would be along dirt roads, through a primarily undeveloped region of the country.

 

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The road heading into the project site in Padre Ramos.

 

In Padre Ramos, we’re working with ICAPO (Iniciativa Carey Del Pacifico Oriental), a hawksbill sea turtle conservation nonprofit collaborating with a network of like-minded organizations in Pacific coastal regions of the Americas. David is the Project Manager for the site in Nicaragua as well as another location in El Salvador.

We arrived at the project site after dark that evening. The “field station” is a rustic, colonial-style home located on the beach of the estuary. We immediately felt at home. The house is set up family style, with large farm tables, hammocks overlooking the water, and sea turtle art spread throughout.

David introduced us to the crew (Aida, Daniella, and Danny) and the house pets, including a dog named “Chaparro,” two chickens, “Claro Que Si” and “Como no,” and a duck (who thinks he’s a chicken) named “Mogollon.” We were given a quick tour of the house and shown our rooms.

We woke up early the following morning, excited to start working. Over breakfast, David and Aida spent some time explaining the different aspects of the project, how they involve the community, and what we will work on during our time here.

It’s inspiring to learn how ICAPO has been able to transform a community that previously poached sea turtle eggs into a conservation success story. They provide jobs for local people to assist in various aspects of the program and incentives for additional community involvement (I’ll write another post on the incentive program soon).

So far we’ve had the opportunity to visit project sites, meet people working on the project, and witness the strong sense of pride and conservation engagement from the local community. Our guests arrive into Managua tonight. We have a great week planned and are looking forward to assisting with local conservation efforts.

Stay tuned for more updates throughout the week!

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