HomeNicaragua Stories / Brian Nichols

Uphill Climbs and a Faraway Family

This is my story from my second 7 Continents in 7 Years trip with Viridian. My first trip was in May of 2014 to Fiji and after that I thought Viridian couldn’t pick any place that could top it. Well, was I wrong. When Rae Ann and I saw the first webinar about the Nicaragua trip, we said “oh my god.“ Based on the accommodations they showed us, it was clear that they wanted to set our expectations low, as we would be traveling to an area that doesn’t have the luxuries we are all used to. The second webinar eased our concerns though, they had found some nice hotels for us to stay in and gave us a better understanding of the scope of our project.

We arrived in Managua on Sunday, March 1, and proceeded to Hotel Camino Real where we stayed our first night. The next morning we woke at the crack of dawn and headed out to the city of Boaco, the staging point for our journey up to the village of Platanal. Once we arrived in Boaco, our caravan of SUVs proceeded off road on a series of horse and donkey trails to the base of the mountain we were going to climb. I said to myself, “How bad could the climb be?” But it was really tough. We hiked uphill for about an hour, through cow pies, streams and rocky hills. It was great to see that we were all looking out for each other. If someone fell back, others in the group would slow down and wait for them to catch up or help them if needed. We eventually made it to the village all in one piece and when we got there we were given our assignments and all got started on our projects. We worked until almost dark and then headed back down the mountain. Holy cow, the hike back was as hard as the hike there! How could it be uphill in both directions? When we got to the hotel in Boaco we were so exhausted that we really didn’t care where we were staying, but I have to say that the Viridian corporate team came through again and put us up in the nicest hotel in Boaco.

The next day we woke again at the crack of dawn and headed to the community to work on the project and to have an overnight experience sleeping in Platanal. We all worked hard building boxes, wiring and installing solar panels; by the end of the day we were exhausted. The sleepover turned into an awake-all-night-over. It was cold, wet and filled with people who snore very loud. We survived, though, and the next day went back to work to finish the project. We lived on a diet of rice and beans and beans and rice for breakfast, lunch and dinner.

The people that lived in Platanal couldn’t communicate with us easily because of the language barriers, but we managed to speak with one other the best we could. They brought us into their homes, church and school like we were friends our entire life, like we were family. Here we were, in a village thousands of miles from our country, working in homes that we would never imagine living in, and these people were happy and content. I thought to myself that my kids, my family and I have no idea how good we have it. We were given a sendoff ceremony, said our goodbyes to the village chief “JACKSON” and headed out of the village to our final hike down (but also up) again. How can it be up both ways?

Then we headed to the city of Granada, where yet again the corporate team outdid themselves. The hotel in Granada was beautiful, the food was amazing and the shower was hot! The next day we had an awesome adventure at Mombacho Volcano where we zip-lined. Then we headed to the fun part of the trip at Mukul Resort. This place was over the top; it was the nicest resort I have ever been to by far. Four days of relaxing was well worth the hard work we did in Platanal. I enjoyed two days of golf and fire ants with our founder and CEO Michael Fallquist and some amazing Viridian leaders.

If you asked me three years ago where I would be today, I would have said in my same job I had for 30 years. I can’t even attempt to explain what this company and these amazing leaders have done to change my life. I was a person with no vision of life after career, now I’m a part of an amazing family. My wife and I have made lifelong friends and continue to make more. Viridian has given me vision for the future, vision of my family’s future and a purpose that my wife Rae Ann and I never knew we had. Rae and I are looking forward to working hard the next nine months to rank up so we can go on adventure number three.

My name is Brian Nichols and I am Generation V.

In March 2015, Viridian traveled to the breathtakingly beautiful and still mostly undeveloped “Land of Lakes and Volcanoes.” To complete our most ambitious project to date, we hiked to the small agricultural community of Portrero Platanal, an off-the-grid village that’s inaccessible by car. With the help of the nonprofit organization GRID Alternatives, we were able to install clean, reliable solar systems on the homes of 40 families, bringing the opportunity for a better life to an entire community.