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Friday, April 22, 2011

On to Cinquera

Early morning in San Jose Las Flores is a comfortable place. Roosters crow, horses enjoy their breakfast in the street and the friendly folk wave their hellos.

(a typical breakfast meal)

Today we said our goodbyes to our new friends and jumped in the bus to head to Cinquera.

Stops included a solar-powered dehydration facility where students purchased delectable fairly traded, organic fruit products. Here we spoke to a local farmer who, next week, will lose much of his property to the new Longitudinal highway. He was positive, however, as he recognized the economical stimulus for both workers and the businesses along the way. He lamented the loss of the tranquility and clean air. We also hit a fair trade shop where students bought beautifully painted nick-nacks and jewelry created on the Chalentenango folk art style.

A long and winding road lead us through Chalentenango City and then Suchitoto. Outside of the latter, we picked up four police officers who needed a ride to the city. They awkwardly stood in the aisles and tried not to bump their AK-47s on our sleeping students.

Once in Cinquera, we met with the ARDM, the local branch of CRIPDES. this organization coodinates mulitiple programs, including a sewing coop for the maimed from the war, the Eco-tourism park and an iguana farm. They also have an effective scholarship prograM which provides money to students going to university. The expectation is that these students already have a strong relationship with the community and promise to help the organization once their education is complete.

Next we met with a group of high school students. They gave us insight into the lives of the rural poor. One student spoke about his 5am wake ups, his chores with the animals, ironing his uniform and then going to school from 7:10-4:00. His weekend consisted of helping his parents cultivate beans and corn. No student mentioned eating dinner, but rather all underlined the importance of doing their homework. Many of these students returned after dinner to perform a theatrical presentation called, 'social problems.'

A teacher, Mary, volunteered to show us around town she spoke of the history of the village, it's role in the civil war, it's repopulation and it's many more recent joys and successes, including the brand new high school.

Cinqera's beautiful ecolodge provided our home for the night. The mangoes, dropping from the trees above us, hammered the tin roofs. Some of the students tried the iguana for dinner, and many had to be brave to remove the spiders from the corners of their rooms.

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