TGL: Nicaragua turned out to be a profound human revelation mixed with some very beautiful photographic subjects. I went to Nicaragua with the idea of a photography workshop with The Giving Lens and also of spending some time teaching photography to underprivileged children through Empowerment International, an organization dedicated to, as the name states, empower children and people of one of the poorest areas in Granada to grow and learn through education and encouragement, to improve their living conditions and preserve their culture. Arriving in Granada, about an hour from Managua, one can see this is a poor area, with a mixture of some beautiful old Spanish architecture without much modernization or upkeep, but with the beautiful lines and wrought iron work in the doors and windows still present, and with rural and farm land not too far. Meeting and interacting with the children was the best part of the trip for me, I speak Spanish and they loved that, they had the most beautiful smiles, the sweetest disposition, were very clean and really eager to learn. Some had previously learned some photography and it was impressive to see the talent that was already obvious. The visit to the "Barrio" (slum) where these children live is something that is really difficult to see, the "houses" built from pieces of aluminum or wood nailed together, the whole house smaller than probably most living rooms in most American homes, dirt floors inside and out, one wood "stove" made of concrete blocks where they can place the wood and one pot to cook dinner. One cement sink on the patio outside had the only running water supply, where clothes, dishes and bathing all take place, for everyone who goes by to see, as well as an outhouse, if you can call it that, also in the middle of the patio in plain view. To see the friendliness, the big welcoming smiles, from mom and children, and their happy faces was a most humbling and beautiful experience, a mix of sadness, admiration, love and compassion. They have that wonderful spirit of joy and love although they have next to nothing of material comforts or even the most basic necessities. The group consisted of nine of us, including Colby, 6 were professional photographers, three, including me, were not. They were all willing and very able to answer any technical questions and help me improve my craft for which I am very grateful. It was a very good group, very congenial and having fun even when everyone was exhausted after a long day. And then there were some beautiful photography sites where we shot at sunrise or sunset, my favorite the Masaya Volcano, with a glorious sunset and some beautiful sulfur gas "cloud" underneath flowing out of the crater below, creating some incredibly beautiful sight and a photographer's delight. We took a boat ride at sunset with the Mombacho Volcano on the background, a sunrise lake photoshoot, the craft market, the pottery factory with each artist creating beautiful pieces. So many places, people and things to see and photograph that one week seems short. A truly memorable trip.