Friday, May 2, 2008

Road Trip!

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My most recent learning here in Nicaragua was traveling to the department of Esteli. You can check the map - it's to the north of the country near Honduras and into the mountain area. I went with our rural team and twenty of our women who each have at least one cow. The place we visited for two days is called La Garnacha and is a cooperative of about 125 people of all ages.

They have developed a quality cheese industry and our women are hoping to also produce quality cheese with their cows' milk. These folks also produces wonderful organically grown vegetables and coffee of high quality. They basically use goat milk in the making of the Tilsiter (Swiss) cheese.

It took us about three hours to arrive there, stopping once for a break. Oh yes, we also waited for a protest group to let us pass. They were demanding land and since they have no other way to fight for this, they stop traffic on the Panamerican Highway. On the way back we sat for an hour for the same reason. Noone was upset because we know that it's for a good cause. It's a peaceful demonstration and hopefully they will have achieved some justice.

We had a gathering with the people of La Garnacha and Feliciano, one of the original inhabitants, said, "...we are poor but we are healthy." And I would add, they are contented. They live together with their families and work hard but have what they need for sustenance and housing. They have a small school for the pre-schoolers and those through sixth grade. After that they must go several kilometers to the secondary school.

It gets quite cold during the night and actually, it felt good to be in flannel sheets and under a flannet blanket. So we awoke from the chill to watch them milk the goats at 6:00a.m. I didn't sleep very well, not because of the cold, but because the two women I shared the cabana with both SNORED!! One would start and the other would respond!! And....I listened!!

After breakfast of eggs, rice and beans (rice and red beans are a three times a day item!) we left to hike up a VERY HIGH area to view some scultptures that are rather famous and to enjoy wonderful scenery - somewhat like we have in the northern areas of Michigan with pine trees. It was quite a workout hiking the distance but I MADE IT in good shape!! You have to make it because there's NO WAY IN OR OUT except by foot.

What impressed me was the simplicity of the people as they live and work and share life. They are proud of what they produce and contented with life. They are a good model for simple, peaceful living. The Little Brothers of Jesus, a Catholic congregation founded by Charles de Foucauld, have been in this area for many years working right along with the people. One of these fellows, Chepe, who is from New York now works us in Cantera but was at La Garnacha for over twenty years.

This brings you up to date with my ventures and adventures. Greetings to all and many thanks to the folks who continue to help support our efforts.

Peace, Love and Gratitude, your sister, Jeanne

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