Dr. Elise Harb’s Nicaragua Travel Journal, January 2014: Days Nine Through Ten

Day 9


Hi, all. Finally in Corn Island!! A beautiful final end to the trip. We arrived via a little 12 seater plane (see video of the day) and although the whole ride we were socked in with clouds as we approached the island, the view emerged (see photo of the day). We are staying at a resort on the beach fully equipped with coconut palms, hammocks and, of course, the Caribbean beach! We went to clinic for the last time today and saw another 200 patients, making the total 2,500 – meager compared to last year’s 6,000 – but 2,500 more people than if we never came!

Tonight, having my favorite, ceviche and sopa de mariscos (see pic of the day), then relaxing and getting some rest.

Tomorrow is a day off on the island- so, beach day!! Until then…

image2- elise

Day 9 Video: Corn Island






Day 10



Final day was great!! Started with a late wake up, then a big plate of local fruit, then all day at the beach (see pics of the day). Walks and kayaking were wonderful explorations (including a close call with a fishing boat). Ceviche for lunch and sunset-watching rounded out the day.

Not too shabby! And to top it off, managed to miss a good snow storm! Tonight, a final dinner with the crew – the students have been a lot of fun- then off tomorrow morning for a full day of traveling.

Signing off from Corn Island, Nicaragua….

 – elise


Dr. Elise Harb’s Nicaragua Travel Journal, January 2014: Days Five Through Eight

Day 5
imageGreetings from Pearl Lagoon! We arrived this morning after a beautiful 2 hour panga ride to one of my favorite places – instant Caribbean relaxation. We got a chance to relax a bit and have a wonderful lunch by my favorite cook on this trip – Miss Ingrid (fresh bread, fried shrimp, fish casserole, rice and beans, and cucumber and tomato salad). Still without glasses, we managed to hold a clinic and saw about 300 people (to date we have seen about 1500 people- chill for this time point). We are staying at the Green Lodge with my favorite family. The lady of the house is Miss Arlene. Tomorrow more of the same – apparently the glasses are coming in the morning. Now off to my favorite hangout- Queen Lobster- for a drink and a great view of the lagoon.

- elise

Day 5 Video: Pearl Lagoon


Day 6

baseballHey, everyone.

More of the same here – the glasses situation is quite frustrating. But we have been making the most of it. I have been trying to be creative with my time since the clinics are slower than normal. Yesterday we held clinic at the Pearl Lagoon Academy of Excellence, which educates preschoolers to high schoolers. I had enough pediatric equipment to leave so I showed the administration how to do vision screenings for their students. After clinic, we went to a local baseball game and then to the usual spot. Tomorrow off to Bluefields in the morning – panga ride down the lagoon. Until then…

- elise


Day 7



Greetings from colorful Bluefields!!

While the glasses have yet to arrive, we saw over 200 people and are making an announcement on the radio for tomorrow. Bluefields is the main city of the Atlantic Coast and our hotel deck overlooks the bustle of the city. The students’ morale is pretty high and they are enjoying the sights and cuisine of the country. We have renamed the course ‘Culture and Cuisine of Nicaragua.’


Day 7 Video: Bluefields

Day 8


Almost at the end, but we have saved the best for last — Corn island!

I am currently in Bluefields sitting on a rocking chair at my hotel after a fairly decent clinic day and an interesting day overall. Started out learning that we would have a 14 hour blackout — apparently those yellow trees in Managua that I mentioned in  day 1 (which are illuminated at night) have been sucking the electricity from the Atlantic Coast.

The Atlantic Coast has also been suffering with many of their goods (eg shellfish) being sent to the more touristy and affluent Pacific Coast. Early this morning, I took a walk at the public market and many of the goods normally there were not.

I think so far we have seen about 1250 patients so far, but we have managed to supplement our time with some other lessons. Today we had a lesson in Creole at the school where we see patients. There is debate about whether it is a language on its own or just broken English. The written Creole language was initiated only in 2002!

After clinic, I managed to make a trip to a restaurant on the lagoon and had Flor de Caña and fresh pineapple juice. We got there just in time and sought refuge from a deluge (see video of the day).

Hope you are all well! Go NINERS!!!

- elise

Day 8 Video: Deluge

Dr. Elise Harb’s Nicaragua Travel Journal, January 2014: Days One Through Four











Day 1

We arrived last night and had an uneventful passing through customs. After some much needed rest, our group (13 Williams College students this year) and I, did our usual tour of the active Masaya volcano and marketplace. I was able to visit a new town today, Granada, which is an old Spanish colonial town with amazing architecture. We had lunch on the shore of Lake Nicaragua (the largest lake in Central America), where I art my favorite, pescado d’entero frito, caught that morning from the lake. A new addition all over downtown Managua (the capital) is these yellow spiral tree statues. President Ortega apparently has decided this is his new mission- beautifying the city. Tomorrow morning off to start the work…

– elise

Day 1 Video: Masaya Volcano

Day 2


Hi all-

Kind of a chill 1st work day here — we awoke and drive 4.5 hours to the town of Rama – a bit inland from the Atlantic Coast- only to find out that all the glasses we shipped 6 months ago were still stuck in customs. Luckily, we traveled with some and were able to make due for the 200 people that came to the clinics. Let’s hope we are able to jail break them by tomorrow morning…

It’s 6 pm here and I am sitting on the patio of our hotel watching the sunset (see pic of the day) and enjoying the local life and music ( see video of the day). This may turn out to be more of a vacation then I thought…

Hope you are all well – until tomorrow.

– elise

Day 2 Video: Nicaragua Night Life


Day 3

In Central America, things can move at molasses pace…aka still no glasses. However, we managed to see about 400 people and surprisingly were able to help all of them, even with our limited supply. Thank god a friend of mine donated a large supply of glasses and I had them with me.



Our clinic was full of interested bystanders. Off to make the most of my day with some camarones y flor de caña…

– elise

Day 3 Video: Nicaraguan Traffic



Day 4

So apparently so much can ride on a name. We learned today that the reason we haven’t gotten our glasses is due to confusion at customs on who shipped the glasses. While we know the glasses will eventually be released, it is possible that they will be after we leave, so we are doing examinations and the local organization will distribute the glasses.

Today, I had the pleasure of going to a small community called Calderon, which thrives on agriculture — namely bamboo and palm oil. We travelled on the back of a pick up truck on a road that makes Boston potholes look tame (see video of the day), although the scenery was beautiful. Out clinic was busy. Tomorrow off via panga (boat) up the river to pearl lagoon to the Caribbean life ;)

– elise

Day 4 Video: Nicaraguan Potholes