This week, Sophia and I switched project groups so she’s with the computer kids with I’m with the vivero crew.
Although Mondays are always rough, it felt so good getting to work in the dirt again and getting my hands dirty (literally), especially as a college student who is usually stuck inside studying all day errday. There’s this large, steep, grassy hill that is visible from the school which separates Camilo Ortega from another neighborhood, and ever since last year, I had always wanted to climb it. While taking a break from hoeing a new plot of land, which is located right at the bottom of the hill, I pointed to a tree that seemed to be the highest point and somehow, Don William (our pointman, comedian, storyteller…) knew what I wanted and he asked if I wanted to climb it. Incredulously, I asked “En serio??” and he just let Epifanio, a teenager from the community who often hangs out with us while we work, lead the way.
Using a machete, Epifanio and Don William cut a path up to my beloved tree as the rest of us scrambled our way up. The air was cool (a great relief from the hot sun) and the view was incredible. Not only could you see where Camilo Ortega begins and starts (width-wise), but you could really see how soil erosion caused by the torrential rains every summer (which led to some houses collapsing and death in 2010), is washing away the land, causing steeper and steeper hills. Standing in this tree (yes, I had to climb it), really put everything into perspective – a completely new perspective – and it reaffirmed why I returned to Nicaragua and that the work we were doing would really benefit the community. Although the daily work is difficult and we often question whether we’re really creating an impact, seeing the enormity of this problem and hearing how passionate Don William became while talking about his plans to help this community (he even moved from Jinotepe to Camilo Ortega) were the motivation I needed on that rough Monday morning to continue working hard alongside these dedicated community members and the ATRAVES staff. After a brief geography lesson on the different visible neighborhoods, a couple of photos (hopefully I can nab them from Corey soon), and appreciating that cool breeze, we made our way down and continued hoeing (possibly with greater vigor, which is difficult in the Nicaraguan heat) until lunch.
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