Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Day 2 in Nicaragua, Jan. 5: Region in context

Our day was filled with many opportunities to learn about Nicaragua. We had two different talks about Nicaragua. We all gathered at our Hotel and either ate a mixed plate of fruit or eggs (los huevos) with gallo pinto and coffee (café).

We departed after loading our luggage on the top of the bus (microbus) and headed for our first speaker. We arrived and Rachel Anderson, from Witness for Peace, talked to us about how the Neoliberalism movement and trade agreements have affected Central America, especially Nicaragua. We talked a lot about the effects of NAFTA (North American Free Trade Agreement) and the potential ramifications of CAFTA (Central American Free Trade Agreement). Her dynamic presentation engaged us in several roleplays about the rises and pitfalls of free-trade agreements. You´ll definitely hear more about this as we continue on our sojourn.

We ate lunch at the conference center and then headed to Aynn Setwright´s house (la casa). She is a professor at Universidad Nacional Autonoma de Nicaragua (UNAN) and the director of the Nicaraguan SIT program, which our Gettysburg College Alum Carol Bellamy ´63 is president and CEO. Her 2 hour talked engaged us in the dynamic history of Nicaragua. Setwright originally came to Nicaragua as a Witness for Peace Volunteer. She thought that she would stay in Nicaragua for a few years, but after many years she´s made Nicaragua her home. She told us a very interesting story of her husband´s involvement in the Contra War, and put Nicaragua´s history into a context for us: one that makes Nicaragua´s history come alive.

After her talk, we headed to León. During this time we passed Lake Managua, which juxaposed with a panoramic view of a volcano. We learned that as beautiful (bónita) as the lake is, it isn´t swimmable because of the pollution. Originally the city of León was beside this lake, but in result of a natural disaster, León was moved to its current location. We arrived in León, unloaded our luggage, and were greeted by our families. All of the delegates ate dinner with their families (las familias) and retired early after our long day.


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