Thursday, March 13, 2014

Day 5 & 6 - El Porvenir and Leon

Hola amigos,
A lot has happened in the last forty-eight hours. We went to a sesame plant, had a sleepover at El Porvenir, and explored the city of Leon.

JHC recently acquired a full-scale sesame processing plant. We had the opportunity to get a tour of the plant and help with some of the maintenance for the plant to prepare it for food and safety inspectors. Some of us helped with repainting the outside walls. Others helped put up new screening around the porch and did yard work around the plant. We had one of the local people cook us a delicious lunch. The highlight of lunch was experiencing drinking Pepsi from a bag. After lunch we had a quick tour to learn about the process behind sesame production and we walked through the production line.

After we finished our work at the sesame plant, we headed to El Porvenir, the organic coffee co-op produces coffee that we can drink at Bucknell. We took a bus from the sesame plant to halfway up the mountain before meeting a tractor to pull us up like cattle to the top of the mountain where the co-op is located. On the way to the halfway point, we had to make various emergency stops to allow Jen and Sarah to relieve themselves. Many of us thought we saw our lives flashing before our eyes as we were pulled up the extremely steep and bumpy slope. To keep us calm, Mia was using her beautiful voice to sooth us by singing about Maho. When we arrived, we had a delectable dinner cooked by some of the local women using completely organic and locally produced food. Because of the isolation of the community, the families that live on the co-op property are very close and work hard together to run a successful and completely organic co-op. It was so organic, we were not able to use any bug spray!

After dinner we had a quick talk with Rene, the co-op's president about the history of the co-op and how they run operations. We then proceeded to set up our hammocks for us to sleep in on the porch of the storehouse for the harvested coffee beans. We then proceeded to shower down with a large pack of Wet Ones before changing into our sleeping clothes. Tired from the trip, some of us quickly fell asleep while others tremmored in fear of the bats slap-boxing above us and tumbling out of our hammocks. Kolbe was lucky enough to make contact with the bats as they whipped past his face in a fit or rage. Many of us were abruptly awaken up the crowing of the roosters at 2 a.m. This surprised us because we thought they did not crow until sunrise.

Approximately 5 a.m., we all woke up to the bright orange glowing in the horizon beyond us as the sun began to rise. Ariel was lifted up like Simba during the sunrise. After enjoying the beautiful sunrise over the mountains, we had breakfast, again made by the local women. Then we took a tour of the co-op and learned about the various plants they grew (bananas, cacao, avocado, and coffee). The hike led us up to a beautiful gazebo that served as a lookout over the countryside where we could see landscapes to Honduras and Ecuador. During our tour, Nigel heroically stepped in as our translator when Paul had to go rescue Mike's trapped truck on the side of the mountain. After talking to our guide, Juan Pedro, and taking many photos, we headed back to the community and took a tour of the worm farm, man-made lake on the property, and the coffee processing machine. Before we left, we had a quick lunch and got one final view of the amazing landscape before us. This time, half of us had the opportunity to hike down the mountainside, while  the other half rode on the tractor with the water and backpacks.

After a dusty and bumpy descent, we made it to the bus with little injury and lots of pride. Piling our sweaty and dirty bodies into the air-conditioned bus, we headed off to the beautiful city of Leon. A short while later in Leon, we were able to see the old cathedral and explore the outdoor market in small groups. A part of our group found a delicious smoothie bar that made various types of smoothies with fresh fruit. Zach and Maho thought they were so good that they ended up a little late back to the bus because they returned for another smoothie. Others of us were able to get ice cream bars from a local Eskimo vendor and many enjoyed nice cool beverages while we waited. We then boarded the bus for some great times, laughs, and ZZZZ's on our ride back to JHC.

These last two days were some dirty ones. However, it was unanimous! The DIRT was WORTH IT!!!

Nica Love,
Maho Fujita, Abbey Brundage, and Sarah Emrich

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