Weary Troops… Day 6

The troops are tired as we have been going, going, going. There is so much to see and experience and although bus travelling time allows us some shuteye, it´s difficult to not want to miss out on anything out the window.

Of course we do have one particular individual who catches catnaps whenever possible.

The flame trees are in full bloom and are spectacular. I feared that there would be a mutiny if our bus driver slowed down for one more time to allow me to try to capture their magnificent glory on film…

We were plenty ready to get back to our inn, shower, kick our feet up etc… pre and post dinner. Our day´s commentary will be by Grant and I´ll let him introduce himself to you in this posting. I apologize that I can´t post my pics but you will all eventually get to see them! I am also very happy to report that the blog´s photo editor will be back on her feet today after a day´s worth of antibiotics…

Monday, May 23

Yes, the troops are indeed tired and they are beginning to drop like flies as the intestinal bug has started to hit a few people.  However, there are three nursing students in the group, and with Karen´s help, they are taking care of us.  Oh, wait, one of the nursing students, Erica, was feeling under the weather, and she stayed home today.

In the morning we went to San Vicente to visit a farming project.  The highlight of the day was the visit to where they shell, dry, and package the cashews.  Everyone in the group bought bags of cashews to take home.  All of the food products are organically grown, and the group is beginning to create a market for their goods outside of El Salvador.  The work looked very hot and hard. 

The guide told us that 60 workers  produced  500 pounds of cashews a day.  They were paid minimum wage, and so they averaged between $7  and $10 a day. 

Grant and Stephanie played futbol for a few minutes with some local children and so Stephanie had a chance to demonstrate her athletic skills.

We ate fish or chicken at the restaurant on the compound. 

The food generally has been good, but not “traditional.”  Some in the group enjoyed feeding the dogs, fish, and goats on the compound.  The dogs are especially undernourished.  Indeed, they are scary thin.

We also visited an eco-tourism project.  We hoped to go on a boat ride to the ocean, but the tide was out and so the river was too low.  We had to settle for beautiful views of the river and countryside, gentle cool breezes,

and a short (very short) siesta in a hammock.  Everyone agreed that the eco-tourism project was in need of a good marketing major.  Octavio lamented that they did not have more business, but when we asked for brochures or pamphlets, he admitted that he did not have them.  The group wondered why the people at SanVicente did not have a web page and why they did not promote the project on the internet.

The drive was long and rough.  The road was narrow and unpaved for some of the way.  The fish factory was closed, and so we did not tour that project.  We were all pleased to get back to our air-conditioned rooms.

After dinner the group engaged in a spirited discussion of free trade.  Our good Methodist minister-in-training, Adam, said our visit to the rural development project helped illustrate the need for balance in free trade.  In other words, while the principles of free trade are sound, it is important to account for the conditions of each idividual country and the urban and rural poor in each country.

Others wondered if there was not a way that El Salvador could not benefit from free trade.  We all agreed to study the issue in more depth.  Other members of the group, especially Raisa who has experience in marketing, said that it was surprising that marketing strategies were not used more effectively.  The group wondered if an internship could be proposed to help out the different agencies.

The group maintains a high level of energy and friendliness.  Grant forced the members to practice their Spanish at the evening meal by asking them questions in Spanish and rewarding them with a Tootsie Roll Pop if they gave the correct answer in Spanish.  To include the non-Spanish speakers, the group asked questions in English, then translated, then answered in Spanish, then translated again.  Everyone is improving.

* It’s a hoot that Grant writes about himself in the third person. Grant is an English prof at Viterbo who was going to retire this year but decided to be back this fall to torture himself or is it his students??? for one more year …

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