Saturday, December 31, 2011

Christmas and progress

It's been a while since our last post, but we've been busy here. We had an office christmas party where our office staff from Managua went to the beach near San Juan del Sur. It was good for a place to play in the sand, swim in the waves, and get to know our co-workers better.

After a weekend trip to the nearby artisan community of Masaya, we started the week a little slow. I (Jeff) helped out with making some of the duct or flue parts for a clean cookstove project. The thing is, there are no ducts or flues here, since there are no heating systems, and everyone just cooks over open fires in their kitchens. We had to make the ducts and duct elbows from scratch, using sheet metal, tin snips, and a riveter. Other than that, we were low on useful work to do in the office, and after a few interesting but sickness-plagued visits to the rural communities, we had some discouraging feelings about fitting into the culture and figuring out what exactly we were doing here. That's an expected part of the trip, and so that nobody worries, things really changed the following week.

We talked to our boss here, the head of AsoFenix, who put us in charge of leading the environmental training sessions in our adoptive community of El Jocote. Before, he was planning on having an as-yet unnamed local lead the workshops and just have us help out. That may be where things were going downhill for us, because even though we liked the idea of an entirely Nicaraguan led project, we were dependent on someone who didn't exist yet. Organizing anything can take a while here, and it just wasn't a priority for the overworked AsoFenix staff. With us organizing the workshops, we'll still work with Nicaraguan presenters and just be leading activities and so on, but the responsibility of getting the workshops ready to go will be in our hands. We decided to override our frustrations and spend Christmas in El Jocote, to try again to get to know people, and to get ideas on the workshops we would be doing.

The bus trip down to the village on the 23rd--absolute madness! It was the last bus of that route before the holiday, so everybody was coming home for Christmas with lots of food and pinatas. We literally spent a couple hours on the bus sitting on top of sacks of rice and beans and rum piled up in the back and aisles of the bus. Once, a kid ran after the bus (remember, the bus can't quite do 10mph on the bumpy dirt roads here) with a pinata that fell off of the roof rack, which was also loaded over its capacity. Sorry, no pictures of that priceless incident.

The host family of Toño and Martha was set up with an elaborate altar of the immaculate conception scene, as they were going to host one of the last Purisima celebrations at their house in the new year (yes, the celebrations just keep going there).

I can summarize Christmas pretty quickly here. We told them about some of our traditions of Christmas Eve and Christmas, the families, the lights, the trees, and santa claus, who apparently doesn't come down to give presents to the kids in Nicaragua. They have a fake Christmas tree or two in town and a couple Santa pictures or statues on things, but they didn't really know what the story was with them. We asked them about their Christmas traditions. "Well," they said, "we eat beef." We tried to delve a little further into the details, when they explained that some people try to stay up until midnight (normal village bedtime is around 8 pm) with family and friends and maybe listen to music and dance a little, and they eat meat. Beef, that is. And that about explains our Christmas Eve. There was some grilled beef for lunch, and for dinner We went to a neighbor's house and had a type of beef stew with a big meaty beef bone in it to nibble on. And we were all so tired afterwards that we couldn't stay up until midnight. With the new moon and lack of electricity there, it was so dark and quiet in the village by 9pm that we couldn't imagine staying up three more hours, so we went to bed.

The deal about eating beef for christmas is that it takes quite a special occasion here in the village to slaughter a cow. Cows are huge animals, as you might recall, and there are at most a couple hundred people here way the heck out in the boonies with no refrigerators or means of delivery. A chicken is easy to prepare for a family dinner, but a cow takes coordination with the whole village. One person has to slaughter it and work out that very same day who in the village gets what parts of the cow. Then everybody basically has to eat a lot of beef within a day or two before it goes bad. So it's a big deal, and it's the freshest meat you can get.

We spent Christmas day and the next day meeting people in the village and in another village nearby. This was our job for the week. Meet people whom we will be working with, build trust, and continue get used to the Spanish over here where a lot of consonants get lost and there's a slew of words specific to Nicaragua and Central America that you don't learn in school. We met a lot of people and really had a great time getting to know the community and enjoying the amazing hospitality here. For example, after a late breakfast on the 27th, we followed it up with two early lunches, as each place we visited wanted to feed us. We had to start telling people that we had already eaten 3 meals and we really couldn't eat any more. Really. We also brought the photos from the wedding in El Balsamo, the neighboring town, to the family of the bride, and they insisted on me taking more photos of their family, so here's a pic of one of the daughters with two kids.

The littler kid on the left is actually the older one, but born as a 6-month preemie, which is extremely rare to survive here in Nicaragua.

Another thing we noticed this time were all the baby animals. Whether a bunch were born while we were gone, or whether they were running around under our radar, the place is full of them. Baby pigs, baby cows, baby chickens, baby dogs... It's amazing.

(From Kate: I named the mama chicken here "Chesterfield," as she's got the mutton-chop style beard that I associate with men in movies set in 1800s-1900s Britain. And Chesterfield Fried Chicken is common in West Virginian gas stations, I believe.)

Of course, not all the animals are cute. There are stingy wasps (seriously, though, doesn't this look like some sort of an alien cocoon?):

and stingy ants that live in the big spines of plants:

And honestly, you can't cuddle even the cutest dogs here, since they've all got fleas and who knows what else. But they're fun to watch, especially when they cuddle at night near the only warm spot, the cooking fire:

... or when there are cute kids like Dani around, too:

But of course, we did actually work. Although they may not know about Santa here, A truck arrived on Christmas day with presents for all (big excitement in the village when a truck or any vehicle arrives). It was filled with a couple tons of sand, a half ton of cement, chain link fence, and two concrete laundry washbasins.

Ready to implement the newly-arrived materials, AsoFenix came with a group from Portland to work on a couple projects in town for a couple days. The group, Havurah Shalom, was a Jewish congregation who raised an incredible amount of money for the AsoFenix projects, especially for El Jocote, making a lot of this work possible. We shared in the last Chanukah celebration with them and our host family and some neighbors. The host family commented to me that they felt like what Kate and I must have felt during some of their celebrations such as the Purisima--interesting and confusing to be in the middle of a different tradition and different language. But we all enjoyed that night as we sang to the light of a fully lit menorah on the kitchen table.

The next day was hard labor. Our mission was to build two patio gardens with greywater collection systems and strong fencing to keep out the ubiquitous rooting pigs and pecking chickens. There really are almost no fruits and vegetables in the village diet, so in addition to solving some greywater problems, the projects also hope to get some more vitamins into the local diet. The visiting group split in two so each half could work on the garden of one of the two houses to get them that day. Kate and I stuck with helping at the house of a villager that we knew well and who really needed the project. We began with building the fence.

We started with 30 meters of chain link fence and about 10 tree branches for posts. Without post hole diggers, we used spud bars, which are multi-purpose heavy metal bars with a chisel end. You spud around the post hole outline and the kids dig out the dirt on the inside.

The head of the household, Doña Ines, gave Kate a hat to wear because of the hot sun that day. She was so happy to be able to help out, and Kate loved the new trucker-style hat that she sported for the rest of the day. Once we got the fence put up, we all collected stones to line the fence bottom to keep critters out. Kate helped the local kids carry stones from the road:

And I spotted two little kids rolling one giant stone that looked like it weighed more than they did.

By the next day, plants had magically sprouted out of the ground (okay, they had been transplanted from their hiding spots), finally protected from the rooting and stomping beasts.

The second day, we built a shower base with a greywater pipe connected to the new washbasins they had outside. The pipe drains into a small concrete basin, which they will use to pull buckets of water for irrigating the garden. The old system (which I don't really have a good picture of) was just a shower base next to a pile of rocks for doing laundry, both of which drained over mud and into the river nearby. Kate got very ill that night from some gastrointestinal bug (as bad as her infamous food poisoning incident in South Africa, for those of you who know about that) and was out of service that day, so I also went to pay visits and show her pictures of our successes as the day progressed. Here's Toño and Juan Jose mixing up the concrete:

Our stone/gravel base for the shower pad:

Progress on digging the hole for the collection basin:

And the finished project

A note from Kate: I didn't get to help out the second day of construction. The night before, I was forced to worship what would have been a porcelain god if there were real toilets - i.e. I got some kind of bug that made me really sick. I spent a couple hours in the middle of the night out in the yard allowing my stomach to get rid of whatever was bothering it. I am eternally grateful to Jeff for being there to chase me around with towels, blankets, and toilet paper as the need arose. I spent the next day in bed, and couldn't eat much - least of which the rice and beans that were my last meal before becoming sick. Now, a few days later, I've got my strength and appetite back, but rice and beans are not yet appealing. We'll be heading back to the village in just under a week, so I'm hoping the feeling passes soon. It was heartening to have several of the folks we've recently met, and a few we haven't yet met but who have seen us around town, stop by my room and check in on me. During Jeff's noontime visit, a crowd of kids accompanied him to see if I was okay. I'm also grateful that I was really sick at night, so none of my visitors had to see that.

With the successes that we did have with the projects and meeting people in the village, and with a sudden feeling of almost too much to get done in the next few weeks, we're feeling much better about continuing our work here. We're both impressed with how AsoFenix plans and implements its projects, and we're really happy to be a useful part of that. Plus, we're finally realizing that our Spanish is improving to true conversational level, even if "campo Spanish" (the very different version they speak in the village) is still tough.

Now we're in Granada for New Year's. The transition straight from a week of village life to the super-touristy Disney-style Nicaragua of Granada was a little shocking at first, but we're adjusting quickly. The details of our trip here will be the subject of another post when we're "home" to Managua. For now, we wish you all a happy New Year, and lots of love.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Guess what?

Chicken butt!

There's not a lot of news this week. We went to El Jocote on Saturday with a lot of big plans for meeting all the right people, and then I wasn't feeling well that evening and on Sunday. Mostly, we just sat around, and I slept a lot. It gave us some time to enjoy the festive holiday decorations our host family had put up:

And we had time to get to know some of the family's animals a little bit better. There are always pigs and chickens around:

...but more on chickens later. The pigs are kind of gross and stinky and aren't allowed in the house, except when the little ones are being fed - they are fed inside to keep the big ones (their parents, I might add) from hogging (ha ha!) all the food. All the rest of the animals try to steal their food instead:
Though, to the dog's credit, it really could use another meal or two.

The parakeets, or whatever kind of bird they are, took a liking to Jeff (who wouldn't?):

And the family's cat took a liking to our room. I suppose it's the only place it could get away from the chickens and dogs and pigs and kids for a quiet nap. Although, it really isn't a cat so much as a perma-kitten - it's way smaller than a regular cat, but they tell us it's older than a kitten and therefore isn't going to grow anymore. It is small enough that it would fit inside a one liter Nalgene:

Sunday evening, we went to another Purisima celebration at a neighbor's house. Theoretically, the actual holiday of the Purisima, or the immaculate conception, is on December 7th, but they have celebrations for it all through the month of December. Each evening, a different house sets up an altar and invites the neighbors over. Everyone comes over and sings hymns for an hour or so (well, the women do, while the boys are out shooting off firecrackers), then the host yells, "Who causes such happiness?" and all the guests yell back, "The conception of Maria!" Then the host gives out sweets, and everyone goes home. About 60 or 70 people showed up to the one we went to, which was at the house of the guy who is essentially mayor of the town.

On Monday, we went to a wedding of people we didn't know in the neighboring village of El Balsamo. Apparently, wedding crashing is not possible here - our host family was invited, so they brought us along. Jeff offered to take pictures for them, although there were quite a few other cameras there. The official photographer kept lining people up for pictures, which always makes Nicaraguans stand very straight and look very serious. I don't know that they'll appreciate the more candid shots that Jeff got, but we'll print a few of them out and give them to the new couple anyway.

So here's how it went: The invitation said to be at the house of the father of the bride at 8 am, so we got up at 7 and had breakfast of bread and coffee. We waited for a while, wondering when we would leave, and at about 8:30 we were fed some rice, beans, and tortillas. We finally took off from El Jocote at about 9 am with the host family's daughter and some neighbor women - the host father said he would leave a little later. We arrived a little before 10 am and sat around for a while with lots of other people, the women inside the house and on the porch, the men outside under the trees. Someone came by and gave us little pieces of wedding cake in paper napkins, which was surprisingly good - much better than most US wedding cakes. Somewhere between 10 and 10:30, we went inside and were invited to sit and eat. When we told our host sister that we had just eaten, she said we really should sit and eat, so we did. We had an excellent meal of rice, meat, veggies, and a maize-and-meat mixture that seemed a little like Mexican restaurant queso dip. It was excellent, and we were really full. We wandered around for a bit, then noticed that everyone was crowded around the house. We crowded in with the crowd and saw that people were dancing inside. Then the bride and groom appeared, and with much arranging, they got all the attendants (10 bridesmaids and groomsmen, and three kids) lined up in front of the bride and groom, and everyone started walking down the path towards town:

We walked for about 20 minutes over some fairly rough trails for all the ladies in high heels, with all sorts of animals watching us pass:
And finally arrived at the church:

The church was tiny, so as many people as possible shoved their way in, and the rest hung out around the building, occasionally pushing towards a doorway or climbing up to a window to get a look:

There was even a mariachi band!

The wedding took two hours and was pretty formal, but the bride was glowing through the whole thing nonetheless:

And, of course, there were fireworks. The fireworks here are typically firecrackers or bottle rockets that just make noise, not pretty sparklies. In this case, they had gigantic bottle rockets with 3-foot long sticks that they lit and released from their hands (apparently, they're not called -bottle- rockets here):

After the two-hour ceremony was finally over, the crowd slowly left the church, with much stern picture taking and many starts and stops. The attendants made an arched tunnel with their arms for the bride and groom to walk through, and this was the one time that Jeff got a good picture of the couple both actually -smiling-.

Then the whole group headed back toward the houses... go to the home of the groom's parents, who threw a party very similar to the pre-wedding party at the bride's house, right down to the same food and the same music (canned loud-base pop radio music, not mariachi or anything traditional). The first dances were danced, and the dance floor was opened, and our host father decided it was time to take off. That night, after dinner, we sat around discussing weddings with the family, including the fact that our host father was not amused that the couple walked to the wedding together, and -not- with separately, each with their parents as is traditional. He considered it disrespectful to their parents. I guess even Nicaraguan village kids have crazy, non-traditional weddings.

We had gotten back to the house that afternoon at about 3:30 or 4 pm, and I realized that I hadn't been drinking enough water and had a dehydration headache, which didn't go away until after dark. So that was another day of not visiting who we had planned to visit - but at least we got to see a wedding.

The next day, I woke up finally feeling great. Jeff, however, woke up feeling not so great. At breakfast, he tried his best, but the beans, rice, tortilla, and fried egg were not going down well. He went back to bed, and a little later had to make a run for the bushes to be sick. He spent all day in bed feeling queasy. I mostly sat around trying to do stuff to make him feel better, but he couldn't eat anything and mostly just had to rest. The most useful thing I did was to run to the local shop (I wouldn't have known it was a shop if I hadn't been directed there - it was just somebody's house who happened to have a bunch of stuff for sale inside) to get alka-selzer like meds with aspirin and, later in the evening, a drink powder made of ground oats. The next day, he was no longer sick to his stomach, but he couldn't eat much. I stuck around, not being able to help much. In my useless boredom, in between bouts of Spanish studies, I had lots of time to figure out which chicken is which. But more on that later. First, a study in intercultural communication.

A major thing we had to figure out before we left El Jocote was how to get out of there. On the previous visit, we had ridden into El Balsamo in the AsoFenix company trucks, worked on a project there for an afternoon, and then hiked 20 minutes into El Jocote. The trucks left the next day and we stuck around for a few days. We planned on leaving by bus, but no busses run through El Jocote, so people have to walk to a neighboring town that has bus service. The regular bus from a close-by town called El Espino had "fallen apart," so we had to walk twice as far in a different direction to a different neighboring town called Bramadero to catch the bus there. Since that was the only bus we knew, when we came back to visit this time, we took the same Bramadero bus and the same long path back. When we asked around once we got to El Jocote, we discovered that the El Espino bus has been repaired, so we decided to figure out how to catch that bus out of town this time. It has two advantages: one, the walk to it is only half an hour, not an hour, and is on flatter terrain; and two, it leaves at 6:30 am, not 5:30 am, so we could get up 4:30 instead of 3:00 am. The trick was figuring out exactly when it left and exactly how long it would take to walk there.

This was a trick because Nicaraguans do not think about time the same way we do. When we asked, "When does the El Espino bus leave?," having previously been told 6:30 am by the people we work with in Managua, our host father said "5:00." We told him that we thought it left more like 6:30, and he said well, of course, it leaves El Espino at 6:30, but we need to leave the house at 5:00. We asked how long it takes to walk there, and a visiting guest said 10 minutes. Our host father agreed. We said if it takes 10 minutes, then why would we leave at 5 am to catch a 6:30 bus? They said the 10 minutes is if you are on a horse, and of course, we do not have a horse. Jeff said that it really only takes one minute, but that is if you are in a helicopter, and we don't have one of those, either. They did not get the joke. So we asked again what time we needed to leave the house, and the host father said 5:00. Even though this seemed a bit early to us for a shorter walk than the one we had already done to Bramadero, we figured it wouldn't hurt to be early, and set the alarm for 4:30 am.

We got up at 4:30, got ready for the day and packed up the last of our things, and at about 10 minutes to 5 stuck our heads into the kitchen, where they were preparing the day's tortillas, to say goodbye. They said, but aren't you going to have any coffee? It's ready! So we said okay, we'll have some coffee. The promptly all left the kitchen. A few minutes later, the host father came back to grind maize, the first of many steps in making tortillas, and the women chattered in their bedroom. A bit later, the host mother came in to wash up some cups, find some clean plates, find the bread, and made us up some plates of bread and cups of coffee. We sat an enjoyed our breakfast with the usual chatter of animals begging for crumbs, then stood up (about 5:15 now) and said goodbye again. They said, what's the rush? You don't have to leave for another half hour or so - it's dark out now, it will get lighter in a while. We said that we thought we needed to leave at 5 am, and they laughed. No, no, it only takes 20 minutes to walk there. Okay, 20 minutes for the host father, maybe 30 minutes for us. If you go now, you will have to wait in El Espino. And the bus will be late, probably 8:00. We said, but we thought it would be leaving El Espino at 6:30. They said, well, yes, it will be in El Espino at 6:30. It won't arrive in its final destination, Teustepe, where we change busses to get to Managua, until 8:00. Very late. And it doesn't take long to walk to El Espino. You would have to wait in El Espino if you left now. We said, but Jeff has been sick, and we may need to give more time for the walk, and we're ready to go anyway, so we should leave now. They said, you should wait until it's lighter out. We went into the bedroom for a minute, and decided to heck with it, we're ready to go and we either wait here or wait in El Espino. So we put our bags on and said goodbye again, and the host father laughed and took Jeff's bag and walked with us until we were out of El Jocote. We continued on our way. The walk ended up taking about 40 minutes, and we got there about 6 am, then had to wait in El Espino until 6:30 and watch the sunrise. Not such a bad wait, actually, and now we know the real time for walking and the real departure and arrival times of the bus, and next time we won't have to ask. Phew.

But I know all you've wanted to read about this whole time is chickens.

And so, without further ado, I introduce with pleasure, the Jarquin family chickens of El Jocote, Nicaragua. They have 15, more or less, and some of them I can't tell apart. Two are nesting, and I didn't get pictures. One is taking care of five little babies - make that four, as one was eaten the other day by a hawk - which I also neglected to take pictures of. But here are the ones I've named:

First, the rooster. He really doesn't need a name, since he's the only rooster:

Next is Pretty Lady, Jeff's favorite:

This one is Noisy Bird. She squawks a lot, sometimes going for more than 20 minutes at a run.
... or at least, I -think- that's Noisy Bird. There are several red hens that I have trouble telling apart.

Next comes Top-Heavy - I have no idea where her tail went:

...and the Bearded Lady - I have no idea why she has feathers under her beak:

...and Blagojevich, who has quite the head of... feathers:

...and Tipsy, who looks a lot like Blagojevich, but is missing a toe (not that you can see the missing toe in the picture, but I promise there's one missing):

And finally, Dinner. This is the first one I named. She came to my attention when she jumped up toward my hand while I was eating one evening to try to steal my tortilla. I was not amused, thus the name.

And that's about that. We're back in Managua to go to a AsoFenix company holiday party on the beach tomorrow, then have a real weekend without work. We aren't entirely sure what we'll be doing next week, but we'll most likely be headed back to El Jocote for another week-ish long stint, perhaps staying through Christmas.

Like I said, not a newsy week, but I still managed to drag it out to be a nice, long blog post. I believe next week is shaping up to be more interesting, and hopefully more healthy. Hope all is well with everyone out there reading this. Keep the comments coming - we love to hear that people are actually reading what we're posting!

Friday, December 9, 2011

El Roblar wind turbine

This week I went to help with the installation of a wind turbine in a village called El Roblar. Most of the legwork had been done before my arrival, but we had to put the whole thing together, and I wanted to learn more about this so I can help more in the future, plus there are some basic things I know about to help with. Kate has still been struggling with a persistent cough, so she stayed back at the office. Plus, there was some reading and organizing to do for our upcoming trip back to El Jocote this weekend. So I jumped in the back of the pickup truck with a wind turbine strapped to it--here we are figuring out how to position it:
Most of the way there was drivable, but the last mile to the village is just a very steep trail. So we loaded the turbine generator on a horse, and had locals help carry the turbine and tools up the hill (one older guy strapped the whole turbine to his back and shot up the hill in front of us).
Most of the town is on the other side of a mountain with hydroelectric power from a previous project, but there are a few households on this side who are wired up and almost ready to get power, minus a few parts. Here they are putting the last touches on a power line from the control house (not pictured yet) to their farmhouse below.

In the control house we checked all the wiring and battery banks and fixed some stuff. Actually, there were a slew of little problems that we had to fix with creative solutions as we set stuff up. For example, the voltage regulator had been set at the wrong voltage on the circuitboard. When we hooked up the batteries, all the power went to the dumpload, heating it up before we even hooked up the turbine. The dumpload is supposed to take excess voltage, well above the battery voltage, and redirect it from the turbine to the dumpload (basically a heater to waste the excess energy that the batteries can't absorb) to protect the batteries and the turbine from spinning too fast. It's not supposed to drain the batteries. We opened the panel that says "don't open" and found a little jumper on the circuit board that was on the wrong voltage and fixed it--after a couple hours of wondering what was wrong:
Then we hooked up the turbine and generator, balanced it, and had the locals help us lift the system:
And it successfully shot up in the sky next to the control house!

I'll leave out the details on how we put the turbine on backwards and all the other things that went wrong that we eventually fixed. We only had to add a day to the planned trip to make up for losses. There still was some idle time when the villagers let us pick some oranges from their orchard as a thanks to us. We climbed some trees and threw them down to the catcher on the ground, picking about 150 pounds of oranges:
The villagers did the final hookup on the transmission line, and we went in the houses and set up the breakers. When we got light in the house for the first time, Aaron, one of our co-interns, celebrated in the living room where they were drying a harvest of corn:
That night, we all played with the kids, singing, dancing, and playing a balloon game inside under their newly-working compact florescent lightbulbs. The night before, we had talked quietly under the light off smokey tin-can kerosene torches. The kerosene lamps, in addition to being smokey and inefficient, cost a lot in terms of fuel and carrying it up the hill. The villagers do pay a monthly fee for their electricity that we have set up for them, but it is less than they pay in kerosene and labor. We calculated that the people here use about 1/100th the electricity of your average US family. The 30 households on the hydroelectric system on the other side had a combined peak usage of 1500 watts during dinnertime, about the equivalent of a microwave oven. The rest of the time they used a lot less.

One other weird thing worth mentioning is that they listened to a daily radio program, Cuentos de Pancho Madrigal, that is a comedy narration about families in el campo. This particular story was about the religious celebration that night of the "Purisima" or the immaculate conception. The story was about a campesino (countryperson) who hooked up an electrical system to a village that had never had electricity, and he ended up burning up the virgin mary with christmas lights. It was extremely similar to what we had actually done, including that we did light up a virgin mary statue with christmas lights just in time for the Purisima--without burning it down, though.

Before going to bed, one of the kids was very fascinated by Aaron flossing his teeth. Aaron explained floss to the kid, and the kid proceeded to watch very closely with extra the help of a flashlight:

The kids in the villages are one of the greatest benefits of working in el campo. I woke up that morning in my hammock to a line of 4 kids, all sitting on a bench staring at me. In addition to being ever fascinated with the gringos and their strange habits, they wanted to try out my MP3 player, and they were just waiting for me to wake up to ask about it. I showed it to them and after a little bit of fascination of the music and spanish lessons I had stored in it, they became even more fascinated by the radio in it. For the rest of the morning it went around from kid to kid, all of them listening to the radio on my player. The funniest thing to me was that one of the few modern things they do have out in the country there is plenty of radios--just not as small as mine. As we got ready to go, a little girl brought us our horse to help us carry our oranges back to the truck. She was all dressed up in her Purisima best, bare feet, leading the horse around the farm on a line.
We all headed back down the trail carrying equipment and oranges back to the truck. The hill we were on and the valley below was one of the most beautiful views I have had in Nicaragua, second only to the view of the valley on the other side of the hill.
We got our stuff in the truck, they unpacked our oranges and sent us on our way back to the office:
All in all, it was a lot of good experience for two days. Tomorrow, Kate and I plan on going back to El Jocote again, armed with more information and a little more direction on what to do for our project. We should be back with more stories in a week or so.

Hasta la proxima!