8th Grade Field Trip to Selva Negra

-by Addison Thompson, Hyein Hong, Ariana Suarez, Micaela Suarez, Isabel Yun-

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On Tuesday, May 9th, 10 eighth graders traveled to Selva Negra to meet with historian and owner of Selva Negra, Eddy Kiuhl. Students researched the life and death of abolitionist Dr. David J. Peck who was the first African American to receive a medical degree in the U.S.  Dr. Peck died in Granada, Nicaragua in 1855. Mr. Kuhl erected a monument to the life of Dr. Peck in Granada. Selva Negra is an ecolodge, organic farm, and bird-friendly coffee estate in Matagalpa, Nicaragua.

The bus ride to Selva Negra took about 3 and a half hours due to careful driving. Throughout the ride we were talking together, listening to music, sharing snacks and sleeping. 

We got to choose our roommates, with the three boys sharing a room, two girls in their room, and five of us together with bunk beds. We had fun exploring since there is a lake with geese and a playground. Some of the girls stayed up talking even though we were going on a walk at 6 am. 

The lake had geese, fish, lily pads, and frogs. We saw many beautiful flowers and a horse.  Geese walked around the playground and claimed it at some points. 

The organic farm trip allowed us to explore the organic food grown in Selva Negra. Some organic vegetables were carrots, herbs, passion fruit, and even cinnamon and vanilla.These are organically grown and then served in their restaurant. You can not only find crops, but many animals. Cows are grass fed, pigs are free-range, and chickens are raised on the farm. It is interesting seeing how this hotel naturally grows all of these crops and materials. They also compost and grow Rainforest Alliance Certified coffee. We saw the staff housing and learned that they support their workers with a school, library and scholarships.

On our first day, we hiked the virgin cloud rainforest. We were loud, so we didn’t get to see any howler monkeys, but some of us saw an agouti. Excited from that hike, we wanted to challenge ourselves and hike the most challenging trail the next day: the Peter and Helen trail. It’s named after a couple who went hiking on this same trail, got lost, and slept there for the night. This trail is for experts, and we climbed 1570 mts. We managed to complete it and had a lot of fun cheering everyone on with “Go Tigers!”. Eddy Kuhl told us that we made a record since we only took two hours (in our concern of making it to the bus on time) when it was supposed to take three hours.

We met historian Eddy Kuhl who explained the history of Dr. David Jones Peck, the first black person to graduate in the US as a medical doctor at Rush University. We learned that Peck came to Nicaragua to find a place that was more accepting. Dr. Peck was killed by a cannonball fire in Granada and Mr. Kuhl helped erect a memorial where Peck died. 

We walked around the lake and took photos. We also played card games, such as Spot It, Cover Your Assets, and Uno.  The boys liked to hang out at the playground.

The campfire started after dinner and we had mega marshmallows, chocolate, and graham crackers to make s’mores.

We had a lot of time to be together – it was awesome. We felt that we had a lot of freedom to have fun.  It was a great bonding, learning, and fun experience!

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