03 July 2007

Nicaragua: Condega, Esteli, Leon

3 de julio Condega, Esteli, Leon

okay, so i have to mention that both Anna and i had weird dreams that night. Anna dreamt about Mill Walker and Irene Tinker and Amaya togetehr in a highrise, and i dreamt about secret doors, Steven crossdressing, and a university president faking his abdication and subsequnt demise in order to gain secrets of the Freemasons. all of my joints hurt, which has come from sittingfor longer than i have in years. i spent 45 minutes just stretching and popping and cracking throughout the night. still praying for corporeal gods to forgive me. end random personal account.

walked to Helen and Amanda´s house about 8am by way of vegetable market boasting coffee and tortillas with avocado. yum! Helen and Amanda had filled about half the truck bed with seedling plants: primarily coffee, papaya, cedar, and mahogany. we looked up and headed to the farm. on the way, there were a number of houses that looked the same as their neighbors with vibrant colors that were constructed closely together. Amanda explained that this was a municipal project for homeless people of Condega. i asked how many were homeless, and she replied that Condega is like many other places in that poor families exist with many generations living practically on top of one another in the same house. she was not very optimistic of the project, which was unsustainably close together with no abutting land to grow anything and too small a house to accommodate more than a very small nuclear family.

their farm was bought about 5 years ago when it was an arid, desert-like parcel. the whole area was destroyed during Hurricane Mitch. in the past five years, they have replanted cedar and mahogany as well as shade-grown coffee underneath and papayas. the irrigation is done by drip irrigation piping bought in Israel and fed from what is currently a diesel pump-fed tank further up the hill. they want to install solar pumps as a more environmental and economical alternative. drip irrigation requires filters of which there are two on the grounds. next, Helen showed the house, created by adobe (same as cob in this case) with a lime/plaster finish. the idea is to mount solar on the house, have an office and guest rooms for visiting groups, and an area for demonstrations ranging from adobe to solar installation. there will be a bicycle pump that abuts the house where a well has already been dug. they also hope to have biodigesters in the future but are talking to AsoFenix, who know of a new cheaper, more portable design than the classic brick and mortar version. in fact, Alexis from AsoFenix had just been there the day before. we had missed him by the merest breath. the composting area is ner the animal stalls with worm composting to speed up the process. two composting latrines are also on the farm. the composting feeds back to the crops for fertilizer. a bull pen is just beyond the compost area with a horse pasture populated by two horses. they will use a covered trough for the summer months. since Helen and Amanda are preoccupied most of the time with the school, a family lives in a separate house and tends the animals and crops. there is a solar panel on the roof of the tenders’ house. the adobe house has already been used as a space for an adobe workshop whose techniques have been employed in subsequent projects, such as adobe houses in town. as we left the farm, we passed the fledgling maize crop. Amanda was known by most of the men we passed an a number of women in town.

the school. we passed by the office first where Helen showed some brochures and pictures. there was a classroom across the way. the main area opened into the carpentry lab with additional tools on the side. carpentry was the original use of the school. the area has a “green wood” and regular lathe, planers, table saw, and a number of other specialized machines along the periphery. Helen next showed us the welding area and electrical classroom/lab that comprises the most recent addition to the curriculum. up a winding wooden staircase was the computer room and welding classroom. Helen described the history of the school itself, created by the hands of 3 years’ students. one of the signs was a female symbol incorporating a hammer. she described the importance of involving the women’s families into the culture. downstairs a “Bienvenidos a Padres” sign could be found.

students had recently taken a trip to a timber farm so that they could see the carpentry process from start to finish. the students working while we were there (on their week off, i might add) seemed very keen and intent. Anna and Helen discussed the possible partnerships and funding thoughts we had the night before.

we departed for Esteli and then on to Leon, but not before visiting Condega’s Museo Anthopologicke. our favorite was the “personajes de Condega” section: a woman who could balance a whole lot of fruit on her head who is an example for future generations.

in Leon, we got on a covered truck (almost exactly like a Thai songthaew but with fewer colors) to the cty and asked around until we found a cheap hospidaje called “Casa Vieja” for 100C a night. no water, though. as it turns out, the water was out in Leon at that time, though there was light. we were confused.

we went for walk and found:
*the UNAN/Leon Universidad
*a monument to Leon’s heroism during the Contra/Sandinista conflict
*the beautiful plaza with iglesia next door. Gorgeous! Anna said that Leon was not effected by the earthquake that decimated Managua in the 70s which explains the beautiful old buildings and houses.

the best find of all probably had to be the red and purple edifice we found with a stylized clown on a giraffe unicycle and “Benjamin Linder” painted on the doorway arch.
we have to go back for the story. we found a restaurant that boasted salads and played Silvia Rodriguez, much to Anna’s delight. i ordered the Ensalada Cactus after we assured that it was vegetarian. it was, if you didn’t count the lumps of ham and a vast infestation of mayo-slathered chicken. Anna was kind enough to share her spaghetti.

Anna had wanted to wash her hands, but there was again no water. according to the waiter, half Leon has light but no water in the evening and water but no light in the morning. the converse is true for the other side of town. of course, according to the waiter, the Ensalata Cactus is vegetarian. we’ll see.

on the way home, i got terribly lost as is my wont. no one seemed to know where the Casa Vieja was, but it was good Spanish practice. one guy i asked:

Me: ¿conoce Ud. a Casa Vieja? es un hospidaje cerca de aqui, pero no recuerdo la direccion.

Seguridad: no conozco. tal vez es nueva.

Me: no! es Casa VIEJA.

i love language learning. stupid puns are actually funny. found someone who knew, and i’m back at the room.

there is a cockroach on the wall. at first i thought there were two and that they were mating, but i guess it’s just one really indecisive one. thought about hitting it with my shoe, but the smell of dead cockroaches tends to attract other cockroaches (ahh, important tidbits one learns in Thailand). it also reminds me of Archy the Cockroach.


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