It has been almost a month since I finished my time in the farm and began my travels. Traveling alone has given me time to think and reflect.
Quite simply my six months living and working in the village of Balgue on the island of Omtepe provided me with a view into a way of life long since disappeared from the US reality. It is a way of life quickly changing, even in Balgue. Walking down the main street in town, the one paved road, I was often struck with the realization that with each text the passing teen sent, and with every foot the paved road extended the village of Balgue was changing, and with it all Nicaragua, leaping into a future of supermarkets, cars and mass media.
I feel so lucky to have gotten the experience to of living on a farm where everything we consumed from oil, to rice, to cement had to be carried up a hill on someone's back. I feel lucky to have lived in a place where if you want to talk to your neighbor you go over to visit instead of calling on the phone. I feel lucky to have lived where cooking on a wood fired rocket stove is a part of daily life. I feel lucky to have lived where every week brought new and delicious fruits to savor; Papaya, Calala, Mango, Jackfruit, Akee, Pitanga.
I feel lucky to have had the opportunity to work with the Girasol Coop. Over a year and a half ago a group of women were invited to participate in a sewing coop project. They would spend the next year attending sewing and busyness classes. I arrived in Balgue just in time to see the women graduate from the class. After graduation six of the women went on to begin the work of creating a sewing coop. I had the special opportunity of working with Peace Corps Volunteer, Noelle, to support those six courageous women in taking the steps from class to business. I came to Nicaragua with some goals for my time here. One of them was to be a positive force in the lives of at least three women, to help them realize their life goals, help them take control of their life. In the women of Girasol I found that.
I feel lucky to have had the opportunity to work with Steph, Mitch and Chris, in my work on the Finca Bona Fide, first as a volunteer and later as a volunteer coordinator. Steph, ever patient, ever calm, the perfect Wendy to our lost volunteers. She was my co-coordinator, together we kept the volunteers; fed, housed and busy. If Steph and I kept the volunteers busy, Mitch and Chris two of the Co-directors of the finca kept us on our toes, always learning, always growing.
But more than all that, I feel lucky to have known and worked with Clemencia, Mirtha, Paula and Marina the food-goddesses of the finca. Those women were; cook, mother, role model, and confidant to all of us on the farm. From Clemencia, I learned to make tortillas, buy coffe, know when rice is ready to be milled and how to have the patience and wiles to keep 20 people fed on time day in and day out. Clemencia, with her no nonsense, brusk, cheerfulness, for me personifies my time here in Nicargua.
Pictures left to right: the Girasol coop and myself, Co-director Chris with Dona Coco (one of our veggie providers and local elder), co-director Mitch, my co-coordinator Steph, and Clemen and I.