Welcome to the CED 499B Spring Break trip to Honduras

This 1 week field trip to Honduras is intended to provide a broad overview of the many issues facing local development initiatives in rural communities. The trip will expose us to local projects and initiatives developed during the last few years in the Yeguare valley to improve the local economy and reduce extreme poverty. These changes are slow and difficult and not always with positive results. Our hope is that this trip will help provide insight into difficulties of rural development.

Monday, March 5, 2012

Kayla Reporting Monday

Our first educational day in Honduras had an early start, which was good since we covered a lot of great information.  One of my favorite parts of this day was the time spent in Moroceli.  The town had a very welcoming, safe feeling.  When we first arrived, we had some time to wander around the town square before the presentation by the water association.  We chatted with a local about the origin of their church, which was a beautiful structure.  The individuals in the town were extremely friendly and welcomed us with open arms.  The children seemed very excited to see us, asking what time we would get back so we could play with them.  This aspect makes the trip seem more intimate, being able to immerse ourselves within the culture and the local communities.

Tyler Reporting Monday
  Our day today was quite different from yesterday. Today, we were afforded the opportunity to immerse ourselves in a couple local communities or industries. We started off at the crack of dawn, at about 6:00 AM. Not wanting to get up, we laid around for some time just not wanting to move. At about 6:35 AM, I finally decided to move and get ready for the day. We then ran over to a breakfast consisting of an egg, local cheese, ham, tortillas, and refried beans. Surprisingly, the general thought was that breakfast was just as big as the previous night’s dinner.
  When we left breakfast, we set on our way to DSEA to catch our drivers to Moroceli. On the way to the Landcruiser and 4Runner, we saw an awesome tree. This tree would be quite involved later in the day. We then split up and boarded the vans. Taking about 45 minutes, the ride was quite bouncy and rough. I got severe enjoyment out of it—and Ren (the driver) was quite entertained by my laughter. The ride was really great and the views were awesome.
    Moroceli looked quite Hispanic colonial. The roads were unpaved and dirt, the sidewalks didn’t really exist, and there were people out in the streets and buying snacks and supplies from barred windows. We stopped at a park and walked around. On the opposite side of the park from where we parked, we went into a “iglesia catolico” (a Catholic Church). The church was located where healing waters were supposedly found and was quite popular on Sundays. The gentleman who let us in was very excited to tell us all about his church—all of course in Spanish. Lina and I struggled to translate a reasonable portion for the rest of the people with us. It was very nice to hear the man have so much pride in his home. The conversation lasted about twenty minutes, and then we were scooted off to the next location.
Our next location was hearing about watershed and water problems in a water shed from Ajane in Moroceli. Ajane is a group of water boards forming a collective to manage their water supplies and provide clean water to their region. It is rather small, but has some large problems of contamination and free-rider problems. The group has had a large amount of success, winning a national award for their community & environmental efforts. We were there for some time, and the gentlemen were excited to have us. To better show us what some of the causes for the environmental issues were, we went to the upper portion of the watershed. Not before, of course, grabbing some local snacks that were a little bit salty and full of happy locals.  
Any amount of knowledge about watersheds will tell you about keeping the headwaters as pure as possible, and this is no exception. We were told that we were going to be going to the upper portion of a watershed to examine how agriculture was affecting the water downstream. Little did we know that this journey would take us up the side of an incredibly steep mountain and through mud that pushed more than a couple feet deep. During this journey, we stopped about halfway up at a library. We were all very surprised that there was a decent library with internet in an incredibly desolate and rural portion of Honduras, but it was very nice to see. Here we had the opportunity to play with some kids and chase them around. Lina started the laughter off by finding a little boyfriend—about 8 years old. Not so long after, the attack ensued and several of us were taken in by the innocent laughter and playing of the Honduran children.
The laughter subsided and we were rushed off once again up the mountain for our final destination of the coffee areas. We funned all 13 people into one car and climbed to the coffee production areas in the mountains. Somewhere along the way, we found two friends in dog form. They followed us the entire way to our coffee destination. We dismounted the Landcruiser and walked to the first shanty for coffee harvesting. Several people had learned about coffee production for the first time and it was good to see. The whole time I spent listening, shooting coffee beans at Kayla, and playing with my two new friends.
Once we left the first shanty, we headed to the second and learned about how the coffee is pulped and cleaned for production. The coffee is broken down based on quality, color, and its ability to float. This particular site even had a location for process beans that were of a lesser quality. It became clear that the piles of bean hulls could be an area where the local streams could become polluted by a lot of nutrients. I was a little preoccupied by my two new friends that were busily fighting over my attention.
Our next destination was the home of the gentleman who owns the coffee growing area. Here his family was very welcoming and graciously showed them how they produced the final marketable coffee. Of greatest interest to us was the fresh-ground coffee that we bought 6 bags of. The family made some of the fresh coffee with a French press for us. The coffee was slightly bitter with a nutty taste. My personal opinion was that it was far better black, but the others thought sugar was more necessary. Personally, I am convinced that they need to buck-up and enjoy the natural flavor. Shortly thereafter, we rushed back into Moroceli.
When we arrived back in Moroceli, we had a very nice lunch of chicken, pork, or beef, unpasteurized cheese, rice, beans, and lettuce. For dessert, we had fresh fruit from the same woman who had served us earlier in the day. Before dinner, I had the opportunity to meet some local kids again. I asked them what kind of candy they would like, and they had no idea. Not knowing what they would like, I bought them typical local candy that was very similar to a dry caramel. I sat down and asked them about their ages, school, home, and siblings. They were 4, 7, and 9 and were all cousins. Se, Blanca, and Eta lived very close, and thoroughly enjoyed picking on their 4 year old cousin. After dinner, I said in Spanish “see you later” and they quickly responded with a loud yell “we cant wait to see you again! When will you be back?!” Clearly, young friends can be won with cheap candy in any country.
The trip back to Zamorano consisted of a great conversation with Erika, a teacher at the University. We talked about her time in the United States, travel abroad, and local problems. At this rate, I could stay here for at least a few more weeks. Bern, Kayla, Dave and I then ran to climb this glorious tree from earlier in the day. The tree was huge and the limbs were feet thick .We climbed up and were able to see out of the top of the tree. While in the tree, we were caught in the rain and hung out for over an hour in the rain. The tree was so full and thick that few of the drops were hitting us. As it rained harder, we didn’t care very much. After dinner, our day ended and our processing began. Another day has concluded at Zamorano University in Honduras. 

1 comment:

  1. What a full day indeed! Looking forward to hearing about the day tormorrow!