EVERYTHING is slow here; from the old cars and buses struggling up the hilly terrain to the long hours it takes to light the fires of the stoves to cook food. Even the development work is slow, which is why it has taken so long to write another blog.
Life moves at a snail’s pace, days we thought would be filled with good deeds, planting trees, teaching English or helping impoverished communities are, in reality, filled with waiting and wondering of when we’ll actually do something useful.
In our five weeks here so far, we’ve planted 1700 mandagual trees along the banks of the River Dipilto. The reason…? The river is the only source of clean water for both Ocotal and Dipilto but after Hurricane Mitch swept the river across the valley in 1998 water levels have been dwindling and the supply for 30,000 people is in jeopardy.
So with heavy steel rods, spades and wheelbarrows full of trees we broke apart the harsh, dry Nicaraguan soil to plant our saplings.
Our reward…? Sweat, blisters and in five years-time hopefully many fully grown trees to keep the soil moist and fertile and the water levels up.
The one other useful thing we’ve been doing is teaching music to the local kids and teenagers of Dipilto. Or as I call it, beating machismo with drumsticks.
Machismo culture is rife in Nicaragua, the thought that men are superior to women for the sole reason that they are men. So as you can imagine, a rowdy group of adolescent Nicaraguan males being taught drums and guitar by a Scottish female at first did not go down too well.
But with ever beat of the drum and strum of the guitar the gender barriers fell and I found the teens to be genuinely receptive because you were teaching them something they wanted to learn.
Now when I walk around Dipilto, once surly youths greet me with a smile and in (my terrible, broken) Spanish chat away.
Two positive things out of five weeks may sound like a bit of a waste, and there are days where I think that too. I fundraised so much and the government subsidised so much more to send us all here and there’s no work to be done.
So the first five weeks have been rather bleak, but with new projects and new logistics officers in country we have high hopes it will improve (well it can’t get much worse).