Every year that I teach Spanish, I assign culture projects and reports to my students.  Learning about the people and culture of a language is as important as learning the language itself.  This year I will be sharing with you on the blog, the projects and reports from my students.  The work is all their own, only edited for puncuation and grammar.  I am sure they would love your comments and support, and any knowledge of the country or subject you may be able to add!  

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Rarely does anyone give the struggling country of Nicaragua any thought. They struggle economically due to natural disasters and the like. In the past, groups of dictators or specific political parties have dominated the Republic in Nicaragua. Despite the strife, the country still offers vibrant scenery, a characteristic of Central America, and a mysterious mountain top. Don’t cross off Nicaragua from your vacation list just yet.

Nicaragua functions consistently like the other Central American countries. In September 1821, the Nicaraguans gained independence and later enacted a republic form of government. As their official language, they speak Spanish. Predominantly, the people of Nicaragua claim to be Roman Catholic. The population count, as of July 2005, reached 5,465,100 which still ranked them as the largest and most sparsely populated country in Central America. If measured against a state in the U.S., New York would come the closest. Bordering Nicaragua, Honduras lies to the north and Costa Rica covers her flank. On each side, the Pacific Ocean and the Caribbean sea churn and rumble. Sandy beaches run up and down the east side of the country, and bubbling volcanoes smoke along the west coast. Tropical valleys, enigmatic mountains, and a memorable lake all compile together in the middle with the capital Managua.  Nicaragua has catastrophic debt. It accumulated to such a tragic number; they qualified for a debt reduction by the sum of $4 billion. Besides their massive debt, Nicaragua similarly resembles its neighboring countries.

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Nicaraguan history spins a tale of dictators and a fight for peace. Their name came from the dominant native tribe who lived there when the Spanish discovered Nicaragua in 1522. The people of Nicaragua declared independence in 1821, but they established themselves as an Independent Republic in 1838. After a few assassinations and a short civil war, the group Sandinista Guerrillas overthrew the harsh family, the Somozas that had been previously running the country. They were no better. With the help of a war, the Sandinista Guerrillas were overthrown in 1981, and free elections were held on Nov. 4, 1984. Sadly that did not halt corrupt leadership, however Nicaragua has taken positive steps. Just as Nicaragua undertook the process of rehabilitation, hurricane Mick, which left 2 million homeless and killed 9,000, struck the country. Now Nicaragua remains the poorest country in the western hemisphere. The story depicts a struggling republic that creditably persists.

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Mystery surrounds the mountain of Mogotón. Set on the border of Honduras and Nicaragua, Mogotón reaches the highest point in the nation. In the 80s, the Sandinistas activated mines which still remain on the mountain. Stories arose about people sustaining injuries or even dying due to the mines: “Si te Atreveis, no volveríes.” (If you have the guts to go you will never return.), the saying went. Truthfully mines do exist on the mountain; however, some locals know a safe route that leads to the top. During the week, sweeps are made for old mines and they are detonated in controlled circumstances. Swindlers, who charge the worth of an heirloom, lead unsuspecting marks up a phony path, so check for a four-foot-tall border marker to assure you are really at the peak of Mount Mogotón  People view the mountain as an adventure waiting for their gumption.
Little credit does the country of Nicaragua receive. Through the hardships, they have persevered. Their history was dominated by criminal leaders, yet their land still holds its beauty. Nicaragua is a part of God’s vast world worth exploring.
Laurie is a junior in high school.  She enjoys riding horses,
dancing, and taking Spanish classes from
her awesome sister.  Unsure yet of her future, she
anxiously awaits hints from God.  (In other words,
she has no idea what she wants to be when she grows up,
so don’t ask her!)
Infoplease.com, Nicaragua, http://www.infoplease.com/country/nicaragua.html, November 2, 2013.

About.com, Nicaragua, http://geography.about.com/library/cia/blcnicaragua.htmNovember 2, 2013.

Rodriguez, Christina. Cerro Mogotón, Nicaragua, http://www.summitpost.org/cerro-mogoton-nicaragua/446858, September 26, 2008, November 2, 2013

Summitbreeze. Climb Mogotón, Break the Myth. http://www.travbuddy.com/travel-blogs/12168/Climb-Mogoton-Break-Myth-102, Travbuddy.com, March 12, 2008. November 2, 2013