Welcome to CCA’s international development blog page … the sights and sounds, the people and places as experienced by credit union and co-operative volunteers on the frontline of development.

Friday, February 12, 2010

Nicaragua Study Mission- Day 10

I’m on a plane somewhere between Miami and Toronto. Dirk and Betty Willemsen are seated behind me and Roger Harrop is a few seats ahead. Vera Goussaert, Nicole Woelke, Marie-Claude Jette and Lise Boissonneault are headed to Chicago where they will split up to make connecting flights to Ottawa and Winnipeg. Karen Timoshuk took an earlier flight to Houston enroute to Saskatoon, while Bill Freeman is waiting for a later flight to Mexico. Bill Lee is on a bus bound for Costa Rica. Myra Kormann and Tony Dawson have remained in Nicaragua to spend more time touring the country. Before going our separate ways I asked my teammates to share with me their fondest memories from this mission. Here’s what they had to say:
Mission’s Most Memorable Moments
• Watching sun set on Lake Nicaragua with volcano in background
• Young boys jumping off the shoulders of Dirk and Betty into Lake Nicaragua
• Swimming in the healing waters of a volcanic spring, followed by salsa dancing
• Americano breakfasts – pancakes, fresh fruit and honey; Nicaraguan lunches – beans, rice, tortillas, fajitas, plantain
• Looking down into the crater of an active volcano
• Handing out balloons, pencils and putting smiles on the faces of children
• Getting to know a cross-section of Canadians from coast to coast
• Spending time with Canadians who are passionate about co-operatives
• Meeting Nicaraguans who are practicing the co-operative principles in their daily lives
• Reconnecting with our co-operative roots; feeling rejuvenated about efforts of co-operatives to fulfill economic and social needs of people everywhere
• Discovering how Nicaraguan credit unions are giving micro credits to help aspiring entrepreneurs, from tortilla and pastry makers to yucca and orange producers
• Hearing that co-operatives are helping members do things for their families that we take for granted like sending their children to school and giving them fresh milk to drink
• Learning about a unique form of eco-tourism in which tourists stay with local families and share their skills with the communities, e.g. teaching English at the local school, providing medical attention
• Sipping wind made with the fruits and herbs grown by Candida, an Ometepe farm woman
• Filling our bus with tables and chairs for our meeting with the Krukira fisheries co-op
• Crossing a wooden plank bridge with the bus driver’s 14-year-old son behind the wheel
• Checking out the nightlife in Bilwi after a late night dinner at a chicken take-out
• Dirk having to crawl on his hands and knees to get his 6’ 3” frame into a tiny 12-seater plane
• Taking off in the plane, leaving four team members behind at the Bilwi airport, without notice
• Thinking a tarp-covered stand was the airport terminal at Bilwi
• Nicole, Vera signing up Tony, Betty and Karen for Facebook
• Bill and his drive-by shooting (taking countless photos of oxen carts, horses, etc. through the front window of our van)
• CECAMPO secretary Carlos and his sideways hat
• Interpreter Ron testing our gullibility by making up answers to questions he didn’t know
• Welcoming Lola (a monkey) on board our boat
• Hotel preparing guacamole from fresh avocado, served with complimentary Crown Royal
• Having coffee grower peel my orange with a machete
• Showing children their pictures on digital cameras
• Recapping the day’s events poolside over cold cervezas (beer)
• Getting our group photo taken at Ometepe
• Watching a mother monkey and her baby swing from a vine, nearly touching the top of my head

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