Friday, September 18, 2009

Time Flys When....Nicaragua is so Great

Hola todas y todos,

So it has been a long time since I have post a new blog up… really don’t have much of an excuse. A lot has gone on since I last wrote. Sorry for the long post-I know many of you are busy so I created a headline for each event and you can read more in depth for more if you are interested!

Current House Improvements
Well the rain has come and left and finally come again. During the six month rainy season the rain picks-up until about the middle of July, and is supposed to start back up again mid-August. This is called the Canícula, but this year the dry spell lasted two months causing many farmers to worry and some even lost crop waiting for the rain. Now that it has started raining again, I guess I found all of the holes in my roof! I already had my whole roof replaced, but due to the small tiles, holes can appear anytime the tile gets moved-something even a chicken can do by climbing on the tiles. I know that I have so many bad stories about chickens, but they do have a good side to them-like when they decide to hatch some eggs right on my table. I come back from a weekend trip and find three eggs on my table. Other times I find them on one of my shelves. It is like Easter all over again-but not finding the candy inside!I also smeared a new layer of clay/cow manure mixture on my floors to protect the dirt and keep the dust down. Did I just say, ‘COW MANURE,’ yes I know what I said-and actually the manure mixture helps keep the clay together and prevents it from cracking. I spread three different layers over my floor and now sweeping only consists of sweeping the dirt and dust-not actually sweeping away my floor!! And the smell went away after the second day-sleeping the first night was quite interesting!!
Jenna and Nate (Bro & Sis) Visited
In mid-May my brother and sister came down to visit Nicaragua. Unfortunately it was only for a week, but a fun-filled week! They brought down supplies to help me build a new designed biodigestor! This biodigestor had the same concept of fermenting cow manure, (yah I know-this manure is very useful in my life here!!) and producing methane gas to cook with. Only this design is a bit smaller and a lot cheaper. The hope is for this design to be used by people living alone or smaller families. After we built this prototype, we took to exploring the beautiful Nicaragua!

Tech Days/Start of the Bakery

So, when I came in to Nicaragua, I went through three months of training-both technical and language. Well, we just had a new agriculture group come in during the month of June and I was asked to host the ‘Tech Days’ or a week of building technical projects and demonstrating how they work. I organized the food, beds, and projects to be installed in my site. This week was very successful as we build two improved ovens, two improved stoves, a simple pump made only out of PVC pipe, another biodigestor, and an elevated garden. Great news about the two ovens-we built them right in the front of the town so everyone can see them. This received a lot of interest and now I have built several more in my site. The group of people that I have been working with to start the bakery has been using these almost daily-making different kinds of bread and cookies to sell and start a business. We even incorporated using millet and sorghum which is more nutritious in place of wheat flour. These stoves still use firewood, but have reduced the amount of firewood by 75% and a reduced bake time by about 2 ½ hours.

Home for Bro’s wedding
In mid-July my other brother, Ryan, got married with Margie in Council Bluffs. It was nice to take a visit back home to see friends and family. This was the first time back in the states after a year of being in Nicaragua. It was strange-everyone speaking English, stairs, and carpet on floors. I would have to say the thing that I missed the most-other than my GF, would be the carpet floors. All the floors in Nicaragua are dirt, cement or tile.
It was a perfect day for the wedding and the reception was outside on a lake. We took the pontoon boat out for a ride as the guests all arrived. We danced the night away. The next day RAGBRAI started in Council Bluffs-I couldn’t miss an opportunity like this and ended up riding three days through South Western Iowa.
The time flew by in the states and before I knew it, I was back in my site in San José. I got settled back in with projects and received a call from my boss in PC asking if I would be available to meet the new World Director of Peace Corps, Aaron Williams. Of course-this is an awesome honor. He was planning on visiting my site, meeting some of the leaders in my site and look at a couple of projects, but due to time cuts, we were unable to visit my site. Instead I took a two hour ride in a car with him and was able to talk about projects and the future of PC. I was also able to have lunch with him before he headed back home.

Project Fair / Drip Irrigation / Washstand

In August, my community and I organized a project fair with INTA, the local agriculture government organization, to present all of the projects we have built or started. This fair was aimed at attracting other Nicaraguan’s in outside villages to come view our projects and appropriate technology. This was a huge success as we had over 150 people while only expecting 100. After this fair from the publicity created, we have built three other improved ovens in villages in the mountains.
I am also currently working with two farmers in San José to install a drip irrigation system into their quarter-acre plots to grow vegetables during the dry season. This project is being designed and funds provided by EOS International. The Drip Irrigation team leader came down to Nicaragua for an initial visit to scout out the plot and prepare for the final installation in October. More information about this project can be found on the EOS Intl website in the next coming weeks.
Finally, I am working on a washstand project for my community. My community members and I have planned out a budget for this project to create a sustainable process of making washstands for all of the houses in my community. If you are interested in helping out, please visit the EOS Intl website and click on the Donate tab. I appreciate all of your help with this and would love to hear how all of you are doing!!

Also I have a new phone number +011 505.8.360.9381

Cuidate (Take Care),



John (Juan) Donaghy said...

Great work you're doing. I'll have to get down and see you sometime - when things get less tense here.

Anonymous said...

Really proud of you, Wes! You're doing amazing work-- can't wait to see it all soon!