Our team made it to Big Corn Island for some R&R. The team was able to motorcycle around the island, swim if the turquoise Caribbean waters and feast on the amazing local seafood. We were still able to meet with the Corn Island Mayor Webster Cleveland to discuss Operation Nicaragua’s plans to open the first fire station on the islands in decades. This was our second meeting in 3 months and to our surprise a lot and funds for a station were already in place. The station is to be located right near the docks on an ocean front downtown property. The water ambulance would also be run out of this fire station. It looks like Operation Nicaragua has found it’s next major project.
With the successful delivery of the Carazo Firetruck today, this project can officially be classified as a resounding success.
The day started off with goodbyes to the staff and our friends at Monty’s Beach Lodge as we boarded 2 minibuses for the 3 hour drive to Carazo. The drive consisted of dropping off and picking up several passengers and was fairly uneventful until the blown radiator on one of the minibuses. Our 2 vehicles pulled over on the side of the steep highway and everyone piled out. Our major problem was we were still about 45 minutes from Carazo were the fire truck presentation, the Fire Chiefs and Dignitaries were waiting for us. The event was scheduled to start in 5 minutes and we still needed to get luggage and 20 passengers to our destination in a 10 passenger bus.
As in typical Nicaraguan fashion, problems quickly dissipate and solutions appear. 14 people piled into the 10 passenger van, and 5 others jumped into the cargo bed of a passing pickup truck. This still left our host Gerry stuck with the broken down van and luggage for 20 people. So of course the natural solution was to call the Carazo Fire Department. A pumper was immediately dispatched with lights and sirens. The firefighters picked up the luggage and Gerry on the side of the highway, then returned to the reception with sirens blazing. I guess that is the Nicaraguan version of BCAA.
Once at the Carazo Fire Station the presentation of the Calgary Fire Department truck, donated in the honour of Ken Husch would begin.
First I must provide some background information on the Calgary Fire Department and Husch Family donation.
Several years ago Ken Husch, one of Calgary Fire Departments most respected members, retired from the fire service to sail the globe with his wife Faye. For 3 years they experienced numerous countries and fell in love with the culture and people of Nicaragua. Ken and Faye toured several fire departments in Nicaragua and vowed they would help. Soon after Ken had a heart attack in Granada and passed away shortly after.
At the memorial service for Ken, the Calgary Fire Department promised to help make Ken and Faye’s promise a reality by donating a bush buggy truck to Nicaragua.
After years of planning and logistics the truck had finally arrived at its intended destination.
Now back to the service in Carazo…
Commandante Garcia of the Carazo Fire Dept. opened the ceremony with some words of welcome and told us that in the few weeks the truck has been in Carazo, it had responded to 73 emergencies.
Next, Faye took the podium with her daughter Alanna, and her son Rob seated beside holding a framed photo of their Father. Faye presented the most moving speech imaginable. There was not a dry eye in the entire room of politicians, firefighters and volunteers. After the room was able to gain its composure the entire Canadian contingent proceeded down to the apparatus bay and 2 fire tricks were pulled out. Commandante Garcia of Carazo invited the Husch Family, Silvie, Virginia and Andrea to ride on Kens Firetruck. The rest of the team boarded the pumper truck tailboard, sideboards and roof, then toured the city with lights and sirens blazing. After the 20 minute tour the trucks returned to the station. Almost as if it were a sign of approval, the second the Husch Family stepped off the Firetruck the tones rang to call Kens truck into service. The timing of that call was nothing short of perfection.
The Operation Nicaragua Team extends a sincere thank you to Maria from the Leon Fire Dept. for her amazing translation service for Faye’s speech.
Thank you to the Calgary Fire Dept. for making Kens wish a reality.
Thank you for support
Another magnificent day in Nicaragua. Our team broke up into a few groups to accomplish a few projects on our last day.
Group 1 stayed behind in Jiquilillo to continue construction on the los Zorros school kitchen. This was hot and tiresome labour yet the only pause in work was caused by a scorpion encounter.
Group 2 went to the chinandega warehouse and sorted through thousands of shoes. They were desperately trying to locate a size 14 pair of shoes for a caretaker at the fuente de vida orphanage. The search and delivery of the shoes were a success.
Group 3 loaded hospital beds on to the flatbed truck and delivered them to the 147 year old Chinandega Hospital. These beds replace old dilapidated beds from numerous years ago.
We wrap up operations in the North tonight and venture down south to Carazo to present a fire truck tomorrow.
Stay tuned and thank you for following.
Operation Nicaragua Team
This morning Andy Philpot presented the keys to Commandante Lopez (Fire Chief of Chinandega) for a Ford Ambulance. This is a desperately needed vehicle that will serve a city of approximately 400,000 people.
This life saving ambulance was donated by Cisco Smith and the Tukwila Rotary Club. The ambulance served the residents of Washington State before it was picked up by the Kamloops Firefighters and driven North across the border. It was warehoused in BC for several months before it was driven to Vancouver, craned on to a Gearbulk ship, shipped to California, craned on board another Gearbulk ship, shipped to Guatemala, craned onto a truck driven through Guatemala, El Salvador, Honduras, and finally to Nicaragua. And yesterday this was given a second life to serve once again.
Many thanks to Cisco Smith, The Tukwila Rotary Club, and Gerry Caceres for making this donation a reality.
Following this presentation ceremony, our team headed to pick up lunch for the kids living in the El Limonal garbage dump. Today they were in for a special treat… The Firefighters from Kitamat, and the Husch Family sponsored a chicken lunch from Tip Top restaurant. Our team first stopped by the bakery for 200 buns. We then headed to Tip Top to bag and box 200 chicken meals. Virginia and Faye headed to the Pali Market to purchase additional snacks for the lunch. Once our team reassembled we convoyed to El Limonal to distribute the meals. Within 20 minutes the children waiting in line were fed and thrilled with their lunch at the Conconi Family Community Centre.
Once again the team boarded our transportation back to our base camp at Monty’s in Jiquilillo, then to the Padre Ramos Estuary. In our two pangas (fishing boats) we learned of the plight of the Hawksbill Sea Turtle and the mangrove estuary. This was a recon trip to explore future Operation Nicaragua projects.
The day ended with a boat ride to a desolate beach where the team cooled off in the surf and watched the sun set into the Pacifico. A perfect ending to another perfect day.
Today was an optional rest day for the team. Some chose to spend the day relaxing and surfing at our host hotel, Monty’s Beach Lodge. A few others headed out for some deep sea fishing with our local guide. It was a productive day with 14 fish caught. The remainder of the team decided to spend the day erecting brick walls at a school kitchen project.
Today the team distributed shoes to about 400 children who attend the Padre Ramos, Los Zorros and Jiquilillo Elementry schools. This was a major event for many of the children as their foot ware was in poor disrepair. The fear with children who have unsatisfactory shoes is that, if the shoes become unwearable, the child is not allowed to attend school.
Today our team rode to Chinandega Nicaragua to prepare for delivering a shipment shoes. The team was divided into two groups. One group to prepare the shoes to be delivered to the schools chinandega. The other group headed to the garbage dump community of El Limonal to prepare a lunch in the Community centre donated by our major sponsors, the Conconi Family.
After all the shoes were sorted both teams served a lunch to the hundreds of children who call the garbage dump home. This was a great way for the team to meet those who will be receiving the donations of shoes later in the week.
Pictures to follow soon.