Thursday, March 26, 2009

Ciudad Sandino

This photo was taken today on our first walking day since before the conference. It's so very nice to be walking again. This was Rolene's first walking day since the accident a few weeks ago so we took it easy and only did 8k. As you can see it's pretty dry. We've been told that if we were here a few weeks later, we would be in a lush green wonderland. Oh well, we can't be everywhere at the most beautiful time of the year.
Garbage on the side of the road continues to be a sad eyesore. I usually put lots of pretty pictures on this blog, but there's lots of ugly stuff too. In general, Managua is pretty rundown. They had a huge earthquake in '72 that destroyed a lot of the city, which used to be the most modern and happening city in Central America. They still haven't rebuilt a lot if it and we heard that many of the ruins were just cleaned up in the last couple years. Samosa, the last dictator, basically stole all the money that came in to clean up and rebuild so not much happened. There are like 19 fault lines that run under the city, so there's a reticence to rebuild big buildings but there also seems to be an overall feeling of hopelessness. It kind of feels like a ghost town. There really isn't a city center or downtown and someone who has been living here for a while couldn't think of anywhere that she would recommend we visit within the city limits. Rolene feels compelled to walk through Managua today, so we'll do that. I hope we see some beauty so it's not too depressing. ***It's later today now and we did walk through Managua. We were trying to walk as far as the University but a guy pulled over and said that he thought some guys were planning to rob us and that we should walk on the other side of the street. Then a minute later a cop came by on a motorcycle and said we shouldn't be walking around in that area and escorted us to a taxi. Well, there ya go. I don't really know what to say about that.
Ciudad Sandino, where we stayed Wednesday night, is the poorest area in Nicaragua. This little house is made of scrap metal, cardboard and black plastic.
It pisses me off that in the poorest area someone decided to take advantage and put in a casino. And it makes me even more mad that they're probably making a lot of money. Nobody here has money to burn.
We were walking along the highway and saw a sign for a reserve so we took a detour and ended up in Xiloa, where there is this pretty lake. It's not connected to super-polluted Lake Managua but during hurricane Mitch the water levels rose enough to connect the two lakes for a little while so some of the contamination came over from Lake Managua. But, people were swimming so we took off our shoes and waded in a little.

The place we stayed, Jubilee House Community, has two monkeys. This one is Bella and she's very sweet. I've never been this close to a monkey before. It was sort of like holding a baby except that she was holding on to me more than I was holding her. When I tried to put her down after a half hour she wrapped her arms around my neck, clung on with her feet and wrapped her tail around my leg. It kind of broke my heart because she seems lonely. I gave her one of the many mangoes that had fallen from the trees in the yard but she was still mad at me for leaving.

This is bales of organic cotton and part of the cotton gin at Jubilee House. Technically they are the Center for Development in Central America, but the community of 7 adults and 5(?) children who live there are JHC. They are a very cool group who have been working with and for the poor for 30 years, 15 of them in Nicaragua. The work they do is recommended and prioritized by the local community leaders and everything is a partnership with the communtiy. They anticipate providing credits for 100-150 small farmers to grow organic cotton. They also support the cotton gin and baler, an up and coming spinning plant and Genesis, a sewing co-op. They are the only worker owned Free Trade Zone in the world, which means that they can do business with all the Free Trade rules, or lack thereof, but their workers are treated well and paid farily.
The JHC/CDCA also supports organic coffee and sesame cooperatives, a security co-op, a community health clinic, a community pharmacy, and dental clinic. They also provide technical training, a Shared Risk Investment Fund, they produce biodiesel, provide volunteer opportunities and host delegations. I'm sure they do more, but you get the point--they are great!
This is Becca and her daughter Orla, who are part of JHC. It turns out that Becca and Rolene's niece are old friends. Small world, eh?
If you want to know more about JHC or to support their work, go to

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