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Archive for July, 2011

Flashback several months: Kristi and I like to go for walks around town in the evening when the heat of the day has subsided. On one of these walks we ran into a fellow American staying at a local hotel. Usually you can assume that bearded gringos are probably just loony expats cruising around Central America. Glen, however, did not fall into that category at all. He was a Honduras PC volunteer in the 1970s and has come back after retiring from the US Forest Service to continue doing development work. Over a beer we exchanged PC anecdotes and talked about his current work in Honduras. Though his current trip was coming to an end we planned to stay in touch so that upon his return we could meet again and work on possible collaborations.

Present day: When Glen returned to Honduras with his wife Patricia we accompanied them to the nearby community of La Majada. They are working with an NGO called Fundación Cosecha Sostenible Honduras (FUCOHSO) on several related projects in this community. By coincidence, Kristi and I had already done some work in La Majada and other surrounding communities so it was a great opportunity to return and visit some acquaintances.

In another post Kristi will explain what she and Patricia worked on while we were there but for now I’ll elaborate on the work I helped Glen and FUCOHSO with.

Glen and FUCOHSO have helped several families in La Majada to purchase farmland and grow various crops for their families and this community. They teach sustainable, organic farming techniques such as how to make fertilizer and control pests without artificial chemicals using locally available materials. They also discourage the common practice of slash and burn clearing to prepare farmland that leads to erosion and deforestation. We met with the families and talked about their progress. Glen and FUCOHSO offered suggestions and I learned about organic farming of corn, beans, rice, beets, yucca, sweet potatoes, and various other crops.

I will be supporting them in the future as they investigate the possibility of introducing irrigation to extend the growing season through the dry summer months. We walked the watershed looking for possible sources and even brought in a water-diviner. I’ll refrain from comment, but will say it was very interesting watching him “divine”. I took several GPS points to get an idea of the elevations that will need to be achieved to provide irrigation. It seems as though a simple pump system will be required. FUCOHSO is interested in using old bicycles converted to manual pumps. I will be researching all of this in the next few months to determine if irrigation is feasible and worth the investment.

We also visited the watershed that La Majada depends on for its drinking water. Glen and FUCOHSO have been promoting reforestation in this watershed for the last year. The community members, lead by the Junta de Agua, organized a reforestation event in which more than 30 men from the community planted native species of trees in the portions of their watershed which had experienced deforestation in the past. One species they chose grows wild and is easily cloned. The men simply cut small branches from the existing trees and planted them in the soil. The cut branches ooze a milky sap that enables this process. They have been doing this for months now and most of the trees they planted in the past are thriving still. This particular tree also produces a fruit which attracts the toucan (though I didn’t see any).

Campesino planting native tree species

Community volunteers participate in reforestation project

For me the experience was very interesting and inspirational. It was fantastic to see families successfully farming the rugged mountains of Honduras without destroying the environment. And I was thoroughly impressed to see so many of the community’s men out working to reforest their watershed to protect their drinking water source for their children and grandchildren. I hope to stay involved with Glen and FUCOHSO in this community for the remainder of my PC service.

Baby trees

Giant fern

Orupendula nests

Corn field

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America Recap

You may have guessed from the lack of blog activity in June that we were away on vacation!  We took a little break from Honduras and spent 11 days in North Carolina and Virginia with family and friends.  As always the time went by too fast but we had a blast catching up with everyone and doing all the fun summertime things – cookouts, baseball games, weddings, swimming, etc.

Here are some of our observations:

Smart phones and tablet PCs have officially taken over rendering face to face human interaction a thing of the past.

We once considered NC summers unbearable but now realize how ridiculous that was.  The cool evenings and summer breezes were amazing.

Air conditioning is wildly overused – I was freezing everywhere we went and ended up wearing a jacket most days.

Driving a car is like riding a bike – it comes back very easily.  Although David has adopted a few bad habits from Honduran drivers.

We noticed Spanish everywhere!  Apparently there are now 2 million Spanish speakers in North Carolina and advertisers are finally taking notice.  Spanish billboards, Spanish translations on packaged products, etc.

While shopping one day, David noticed a “Yo hablo Español” button on an employee’s vest.  David greeted the employee in Spanish who then explained that they didn’t actually speak much but had taken 2 years of High School Spanish.  We are excited to see how our Spanish fluency will carry over to our work and lives in the US.

And finally, our darling daughter dog, Honey, was as excited as ever to see us!  We hope she is not too depressed now that we’re gone again.

Here are some pictures from the trip…

Blacksburg wedding fun

The happy couple (Congrats, Dallison!)

Love the mountains!

College buds

The Hokie bird made an appearance!

Driving/riding in your own car, what a luxury!

At the Riverwalk in Durham

Durham Bulls

At the old ball game!

Where's David?

We didn’t want the trip to end but alas, it did.  We made it back safely to Honduras and found our house exactly as we left it (plus a few extra spider webs).  Thanks to our families and friends who took the time to meet up with us, feed us, buy us drinks, and put up with our Spanglish.  We miss you all already!

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