We started our day with another awesome breakfast, I freaking love white pineapple I have decided, is that a real thing? Chilling at CEPAD after eating, we met with environmentalist, Julio Sanchez, who informed us about the diversity and beauty of Nicaragua. We learned that there is are whole parts of Nicaragua that are undiscovered that could be put into sustainable uses to help the economy and promote pride in the region. We were surprised to find out that Nicaragua contains seven percent of the worlds biodiversity and they have more species of turtles than the Galapagos Islands! Also, on the Atlantic Coast, pyramids have been discovered that only the locals really know about. Along with Brazil, Nicaragua has the only fresh water sharks. It was overwhelming learning all that Nicaragua has to offer yet doesn't utilize. Unfortunately, unsustainable agriculture is damaging this land and environmental regulations are not always met, we can all relate to this problem as U.S citizens. His lecture really put into perspective all that Nicaragua has to offer as a country and truly is capable of sustainably developing.
We stuck around at CEPAD for lunch and then headed to the Batahola Cultural Center pretty close to our new home. This place basically has a mural that spans the whole center in multiple rooms and hallways, all telling the history of Nicaragua. The faces of Oscar Romero and Che Guevara are painted over the stage where people practice for their newest play. The history of colonization and the ability of the Nicaraguan people to maintain a sense of humor about their oppressive past is amazing. The center gives out scholarships to people who are dedicated to finishing school or learning a certain craft. It seems as if the place is somewhere where kids and adults alike can meet in a comfortable space to hang out or learn something new. I really am amazed by the mural, someone gave us a tour through the whole building explaining the meaning to every stroke of brush. The history is hard to hear but Nicaragua is a country with a beautiful culture and rich ability to tell it. By the way, at this point, the gringos (oh wait, all of us) we sweating more than we thought was possible, very gross.)
After the center, we walked to "Esperanza en Accion," where Yamileth works. Here, they sell the works of artisans for a fair price, we love fair trade! I would tell you what I bought but then my mom and my sister, Catie, would know what they're getting at souvenirs. Buuut, I can tell you Pat soaked through his shirt and began using a nicely-decorated fan to keep his body temp under control. Maddie J and Pat played soccer outside while Allie explained to Luis, our bus driver, why she can't find a boyfriend in Portland. After hanging out there, we came back to CEPAD and met with an economist, Cirilo Otero. (Allie's favorite part thus far.)
He gave us an educated view on Nicaragua's economy and looked at different factors like Free trade, unsustainable agriculture and the possibility for growth. We got a lot of questions answered but were left wtih more as we learned how complex the trade relationships and fragile economy of Nicaragua really is. We are very lucky to have been able to visit a free trade zone factory then hear the opinions of a native Nicaraguan on issues like that. He also focused on education in Nicaragua and how that contributes to a poor economy. In the last five years, there has been three education ministers and two new education systems! This meeting went by fast since we all had so many questions.
After this, we chilled out until dinner, once again, very good! Some people slept, some people journaled, some people played cards until we headed out on the town baby! We went to a little night cafe called "El Panal" and enjoyed a good dinner outside on a patio, out host was an adorable little boy who definitely has a future in public relations. We tried to have a little musical concert in the back but had to move since another club was apparently having American rock night because Jimi Hendrix was blasting. No worries! We moved out front to the gravel parking lot where three guys played traditional Nicaraguan music with instruments I can't pronounce. They were really good and eventually got people in our group to dance (along with the two ladies who moved their table and drinks outside with us.) Some love blossomed I like to think, but don't tell Shea that, she is scarred. I have never seen Pat Ell dance like that, I have never seen a human dance like that. Anyway, it was a lot of fun: good music, good food and good people. We are now back at CEPAD and I (Allie) am typing, being productive, while Drew, Joe, Geoff and Sara sit around me watching the Sounders v. Timbers game on one half of the screen. It looks like they're just really into what I'm writing but that is not the case. Seattle looks like it is cold, suckers! We debated having all the sickies seep in one room but the healthy ones are just going to deal with it. Aaaaand, Sara and I just saw bats all flying around where they were supposed to sleep, should we tell them? We're tied, we're sweaty and smelly and we're happier than ever. We're done for the night, keep us in your thoughts and prayers and we'll do the same. Peace and love always!