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By Carolyn Morales Collado

Waking up really early in the morning is not that easy sometimes, but we did and we were feeling excited about the adventure of the day.Caroline started the car and the trip began. We passed through different towns and every little town seemed special. The towns looked special to me, because they didn’t  have all these things that a  city has and the people were really kind, always waving to say hi with a big smile in their faces. After a trip of approximately one hour we got to the hotel were our new friends were waiting for us… Our friends of different bright colors and banana formed, called kayaks, were in the sand patiently waiting for us to go on the adventure together.”I had never been in a kayak in my life!”,  I said;” It will be okay, don’t worry. Just be careful with how you move or your kayak will have unbalance  and you may fall. Have fun!”, they told me. They looked really confident about these inoffensive friends, and also they looked  like they had enough experience using them, and I decided to trust their advice because I feel that they really care about me.  Also it sounded really easy, so I got in the kayak with my friend Alex and we started paddling.

31460_151993471621779_43382100_nThe  sun was really hot and I felt like I was getting roasted, but I just kept paddling with enthusiasm. It was amazing to look how gorgeous this place was. There were many green trees at both sides of the estuary, and I felt completely in another world. We made our first stop, and it was amazing to see how all these roots were above all of us, but also we had all these bugs dancing all over our heads. At that moment I didn’t care about all these creatures making their special dancing, because all around me was magical and that is the only thing that I could think and concentrate about. Eddie, our fantastic tropical ecology teacher, was explaining all types of things related to the mangroves. He is such a good teacher and so intelligent. It’s awesome that he can recognize almost every bird that we can see in the road and tell you a brief explanation about them. He is the kind of person that always makes you laugh and have a good time, but also someone from where you can learn valuable things. It was really cute when he told us that his first kiss happened in a mangrove, it is an original place for your first kiss. He taught us about the different types of mangroves, their importance, and what things we can find in the mangroves.

We finished our first stop and started paddling for the next one.  While we were paddling I could hear people laughing and making jokes. Competitions started at some point and it was really nice to look at all my friends relaxing, learning, and having such a good time. At my school things are different, students are always siting on their chairs and just writing and writing. I like the way we learn here at CIRENAS, because we are living the experience and just not memorizing stuff. I think that when you live the experience you remember it the most, because your thoughts and feelings are involved. Every day at here is different, and each day you are getting more knowledge about everything that is around you. I like this way of learning because I am feeling more comfortable talking about my thoughts and ideas with everyone, because they don’t ignore me, they take everything as good things to learn and discuss.
563162_151993444955115_210172190_n-1I learned many things about mangroves. Mangroves are places where that fresh and salty water combine. Moreover, they are nurseries for different living things as fishes and crabs. One function that they have is that they act as buffers, they help to hold the sediment in place so if a hurricane comes it won’t take the sediment away. Mangroves are protectors! They not only keep sediment in place, but also they are filters of pollution. People destroy mangroves and I think  they aren’t realizing how much harm they are causing to the environment and the rest of the humanity. Destroying mangroves and any other things in the environment is harming ourselves.
580663_151993394955120_924555127_nBeing in kayak for a couple of hours was an amazing and valuable experience. For a moment I felt frustrated, because sometimes I was having bad moments handling our banana formed friend. I felt proud of myself, because even though I had bad moments with the kayak I just kept trying and Alex was being really patient and always motivating me to not be afraid. Mangroves are special places that take you to different places in your imagination. This experience helped me to strengthen one of my thoughts: everything is interconnected and sometimes I feel like humanity ignores that. Being inside your house watching TV programs such as Discovery Channel is one thing, but being out there living the experience and making your own observations is different. This experience was so meaningful to me, because it made me think about how sometimes we don’t realize how much knowledge we can get from all the things around us.