Category Archives: Barbara’s Journal

Going South to Solidarity

For the first time in too many years I am planning a return trip to Nicaragua where I had lived for two years in 1989-1991.  Before I left the ten years of progress from the revolution, were totally undone in a matter of weeks.  Social progress and democracy are so fragile and need safe guarding at all times, I learned that year.  As I travel and take pictures I will add to this article en route…….


One stop is to reconnect with our friends at Tipitappa

But for now…..
All the prepping takes much list making and resorting for me.  I check out second hand shops for ‘summer clothes’ of cotton and linen to take and donate again.  I will bring home stuff for the literature table and for the community to use (books, articles, sale-ables), so my give-aways are going to be displaced by souvenirs for CASC

 Dec 16, 06

What a time for my computer to die mysteriously and then five days later work again for no reason!!  Now I have my tickets printed and the final goodbyes said on both e-mail and phone.  I am in my last 45 hours, before departure, and I feel the pressure and nervousness mounting.  I feel such an awesome responsibility taking money down to Latin America for their projects and hope to do a decent job of it.

Yesterday I was honored by my Friday morning coffee group, HOST (to whom I have been supplying a hot coffee service for their meetings for the CASC Coffee Project).  They very gererously gave me a $100.00 donation to the coffee project and a $50.00 voucher at a restaurant for me to use.  Since I have taken on this job, they are learning a little about Solidarity and I am learning about business and marketing.  Check their site:  < >

I ordered an extra coffe roast and it went in two days as people are buying up for the next 6 weeks while I am away.  I have none even to take to the Ometepe Co-Op with me to show them.  I’ll just bring a couple empty bags so they can see the labels we made.  I also pre-ordered a roast for delivery the day I return home, so I can hit the ground delivering on Feb 1st and 2nd. 

 This is it until I get south….

December 19, 2006,  San Jose,  Costa Rica

This was not the kind of note I had hoped to write at this stage.

It just does not not pay to try to save a few bucks, taking the public bus into town in the dark to an unfamiliar hospedaje.  I was mugged about 1/2 block from where I got off and two blocks from the hostel, Tranquillo Backpackers, where I was headed following my 60 cent bus journey.  They got the camera and the guitar but I fought like a buggar and kept my pack and small day bag as they were tied to me.  (They did not get the money!}

It was way too exciting at the hostel when I got there and the police came and the owner was called, don’t know why, but I refused hopital care as I have my own steri strips and did not want stitches in my hand!  I am banged, battered, scraped and bruised with three small cuts on my left hand and arm.  Other then that and a few sore muscles from the tug of war (reminisent of the mugging I got in Managua years back where the lads used chains} I am okay.  I will take a few days here to heal before I head north to Ometepe.

It was not part of my plan to be this slow going North but I need to be flexible these days and take care of myself or I am no good to anyone.  Ana, the gal here who helps, got me some gallo pinto in a bowl for lunch and it was the best ever.  I will learn where she bought it in the neighbourhood and go back for more.  For tonight, a new friend will take a slow walk with me to the corner pizza joint, and back home for a beer!!

 December 25, Finca Magdelena, Ometepe Island, Nicaragua

 Merry Christmas here is different from any other place in the world!!  Thankfully!!

I left San Jose earlier then I expected as I could not justify wasting money, US$14.00 a night, when it can go further in Nicaragua.

I took the local bus from San Jose with the regular Ticos to the border for $6.00 and was quite delighted when we arrived with the Tica Bus travellers who paid $23.00 *but they do continue to Managua*, and I was able to scoot in ahead of them and cross rapidly.  The taxi ride from the border to San Jorge was fun, easy and comfortable though expensive for the locals at $20.00.  I did not mind the fee as I was still sore and welcomed the ease of travel and it did take an hour or more to get to the port.  Relaxing with a cool Nicaraguan beer, Tona, following the trip caused me to miss the big ferry from San Jorge to Moyogalpa so the smaller one a half hour later was my next adventure.

After watching way too much Coca Cola being loaded aboard, a truck load of toilet paper, and many store supplies followed behind.  Lastly the 80 passengers where squeezed in the lower level and on to the front deck.  There were about 6 travellers, the rest were Nicas who shared the sunny, bumpy, wet ride for an hour’s crossing.

I could not understand how my backpack, could have gotten heavier, but it did.  The following morning I learned that it had sopped up the splashed and running water, that had splashed over into the cabin.  Because of the black bottom, I did not see the wetness.

A truck ride of an hour and a half brought me to the Hospedaje, in the darkness about 6.00 p.m.

The roads here defy discription as they are torn up with the rain and are very rocky and muddy.  Most time the trucks and buses travel at walking speed avoiding tearing out the carriage with the rough roads. 

My driver put on the Beatles and when I asked if he had Godoy’s music he apologized.  I apparently can buy his new CD in Rivas, so that is a plan!!

I took a private room upstairs for $3.00 a night and settled in. After I ate gallopinto and a great salad, I met David and Lisa, a couple from Bainbridge who have a small house on a poperty adjoining the farm.  There had been a celebration in AltaGracia the night before with about 500 people, acknowledging the twenty years of Solidarity with the coffee co operative here.

This finca is so different from what I remember because it has been built up with the traffic of travellers exploring the Island and seeking the trail to the Volcano which passes right through the property.  Thankfully for the 29 families who depend on the crop here, that they do have a thriving hospedaje business, because the crop has failed miserably this year.

Apparently, when the flowers were just ready to be fertilized, a strong driving rain
distroyed them and drove them to the ground.  David says they will be lucky to have a hundred pounds instead of their usual two thousand.  Already there is an agreement to buy from another cooperative on the northern part of the Island to complete our usual purchase for our coffee.

The land is lush and colourful with many beautiful flowers and butterflies.  Organic lettuce for our salads is grown among the flowers and other plants.  Searching for the petrogliphs, I wandered through a field of low growing beans.  One taste and I knew where my gallo pinto beans came from.  The huge rocks throughout the fireld, made it clear that all harvest is by hand in these fields on this steep mountianside.

My view from the open window of my tiny, dusty, buggy second story room is astounding with the garden below, then the green of the banana trees flowing down to the lake.  To the left is the huge Volcanic Mountian, Conception, ever shrouded in clouds and mist.

It is so difficult to plan to leave from here.  The people who work here, the other travellers, and delegations make this a most unusual and special place.  I am glad nothing is moving these two days so I am more or less stuck here for a wee while.  No complaiints here, in paradise!

My bruises and scrapes are healing and today I can walk with less pain then ever before.  My limp is almost gone and the herbal medicine is doing a fine job!!

Yesterday, a guide with whom I have been practising speaking Spanish, invited me to join he and four Americans down to Belgue to see the rodeo.  Yuck!!  With the drunken cowboys trying to ride old, tired bulls, with a most discordant band (reminisent of the first week of school band( and kids and vendors yelling and selling, it was quite the experience!!  But,  one not soon to be revisited I am sure!!

Last night was the Posada wherein a couple dressed as Mary and Joseph with their donkey wander about the village looking for lodging.  I doubt that that first Christmas long ago had the amount of Flora De Cana rum flowing in the village!!

 Tonight I am invited to the guide’s house to visit and eat with his family.  I plan to bring some rum, some hair fancies for the children and a Canadian beach ball as treats.  This will be a great time for immersion.

Until next time…. Have a happy season and take care of each other….