I’m Here

Too much to tell !
I am lying in my room at last with a storm brewing out, wooden shutter window wide open with the smell of fresh rain, wood smoke from the dinner stove and the oh so fresh green mountain air. Thursday night, I guess, just dark (the computer says 7:30) The walk from the Solar Center to this house was wonderful and hell at the same time. It just about killed me. What good is a bag with wheels on a dirt/rocky wet, hilly, road? Not much good at all. Thank goodness Marisela helped with one bag. She is one of the children of the home I am staying in, about 13 years and beautiful and smart. I have met her grandmother, grandfather and brother (of which she has two). They offered me dinner but the nuns that David and I stayed with in Managua last night fed us a big breakfast of beans, cheese, toast, fresh blended fruit juice (forgot what kind) and fried bananas. I drank plenty of coffee (which I forgot to relieve myself of before David and I got on the bus for the 4 hour ride here!) They had lunch waiting for us at the center. I am well fed.

We are four hours from Managua, to the north, in Sabana Grande, no where near where I thought I was going, near the northern border with Honduras. Mountains as green as one can imagine. On our walk to this house I saw the biggest cieba tree I have ever seen. Can’t imagine one larger. Outside my room, separate a little from the main house, is a three foot tall concrete dome with an 8 inch round hole in the top with a cover of a round piece of wood. That is the cistern, Just dip the bowl that floats in it and there you have water…for washing hands (I found this out later but did not drink it). The shower is next to it, black plastic with a shelf for the afore-mentioned bowl.
So, I am here.

The airport experience was uneventful but made for a long day. I think, from the Miami airport, that Miami is Cubano. And from the air I hope global warming doesn’t raise the sea level more that a few inches or Miami will be the new Atlantis. David Smith and Luis picked me up at the airport. It was dark, which I did not expect. No daylight savings time here. We went straight to the nun’s house where we stayed for the night after a big meal they had prepared. We went to bed early, dogs barking out open windows, mucho traffico, children playing and yelling, horns honking, motorcycles rattling. Besides being tired I was able to convince myself that noise is no different than music, both just noise. So I went to sleep with the Managua City orchestra in full form.

David Smith is 25 years old and has been here for 6 months. He came for the same reasons I did but was asked to say on to coordinate volunteers. He is from Canada. Couldn’t be a more likable young man. When he decided to come, he quit his job as an engineer and somehow got his bike, loaded with all his needs, to Mazatlan, Mexico and rode most of the way from there to here. Think about it and may be you can explain it to me. He knew very little Spanish but by the time he got here and spent 6 months here he is fluent. I am determined to learn. I want so badly to talk with these people. I feel I am in a special place, one quite different from any other I have known and so close to Mother Earth. Those I have met appear very happy with what they have, quick to joke and display sunshine filled smiles. This community was chosen by the program Grupo Fenix, affiliated with UNI (Universidad National de Energy) for their enthusiasm for this idea of local renewable energy and small businesses using renewable energy and organic growing practices to form a cooperative. They are into several ventures besides photovoltaics….growing ‘noni’, other vegetables, small wind power, rain collection and solar ovens, to name a few. On the bus ride David outlined my jobs. One working on a design to produce small solar cell units to work with Legos and the other to design in security for solar installations which, without, would make solar energy nonworkable in this part of the world. They have already had one installation on a small school stolen. These challenges are right up my alley.

Tomorrow David and I go into the nearest town about 9 miles away to use an internet cafe (to send this mail), change money into ‘cordobas’ (about a little more than 20 to 1) and just learn the town which for about 35 cents I can travel by bus to do web research, e-mail and purchase any thing I might need.

Marisela told me she gets up at 5:30. David says they go to the stream to get extra water, wash clothes and then come back to grind corn. I hope to get up early but time will tell.

I woke this morning to rooster’s call, kind of like a ‘snooze’. After about 12 times or more and 12 or more short dreams between, I woke. David and I are now at an internet cafe in Ocotal, a very crammed bus ride of about 10 miles.
So, all is fine.
More later, the walk here was hot and I am looking forward to some cool rest and refrescos!
I love you,
Steve


Comments

I’m Here — 2 Comments

  1. So, is this the rainy season there?
    How high up in the mountains are you?
    Where is the Solar Center located?

    You say David is there for the same reasons you are, but you haven’t said what those are yet. He must be some sort of super-biker to be able to ride all the way from Mexico. Aren’t there a lot of mountains in between?

    So your Spanish is a little rusty? I thought you were going to study to pass the time in the airport.

    Sounds like you’ve gotten an interesting assignment. How do you build in security to a solar installation? Let us know what you come up with.
    And you’ll have to adjust so your naps are all at night, right? Ah, the sacrifices.
    I love you.

  2. Hi Joy and Steve,
    I’m both envious and happy at your ability to seek active physical adventures. And what a magnificent picture as backdrop for your tales of the high mountains of Central America — my guess is I’m seeing a place where bananas grow! Sounds like you are in the tradition of Ben Linder, although he worked to develop water powered electricity and you’re into solar installations.
    I’ve been working my butt off lately with new internet friends — busy trying to steer human history in a non-self-destructive direction, a big job. Nancy’s busy watching and reporting on the local struggle here, and has more friends than I can shake as stick at, but it’s healthy for her to be engaged. I’ve reactivated my Notes of an anarchist physicist [noaap] listserv, trying not to exceed about two messages monthly so as to avoid contributing too much to the flood of mail. Just yesterday I put a new face on the homepage of my Website II, at http://site.www.umb.edu/faculty/salzman_g/s/01.htm.
    If there’s any chance of passing through Oaxaca in your upcoming travels it would be great to see you.
    Adios amigo, un abrazo fuerte,
    George
    P.S. By the way, my Skype name is georgesalzman.

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