Tuesday, February 22, 2011


Tuesday, 2-22-11

We started off the day with fried plantains, beans, eggs, and bread. I haven’t gotten tired of the food yet. I love plantains! At 8:15am we left the house to go door to door in Muñoces with the Newton delegation. There are 45 families total in Muñoces and we got through 28 of them today. Since we already had the census we confirmed the names and ages of each person in the family and how they were related. We also asked several other questions of the families:

School: We asked if their children were in school. If the children were in school we asked what grade they were in and if they planned to go to high school. If they weren’t in school we asked what grade they completed and why they had stopped going. Many times children don’t go to school because they’re needed at home, they’re needed in the fields, their family can’t afford to send them, or the school is too far away to walk. For example, if there are children in Muñoces who want to go to high school they have to walk 2 hours in the morning to get there and 2 hours home after school. There were two kids who were in 8th grade that wanted to go to high school. One of them was a beautiful girl who loves math and wants to be an engineer!! How impressive! I really hope she’s able to go. Fortunately, a group of people from Heartland Presbyterian provides money for all children in the canton of El Tablón (including the caserío of Muñoces) who want to go to high school. So those two children should be able to go.

Literacy: We asked if people were able to read. About 70% of the children in the cantons can read because an education is easier to obtain now than it was when their parents were children. The literacy rate for adult is about 30%. The greeting cards that the Newton delegation brought down were read to many of the families because they could not read.

Filter: We asked if people had received a water filter during the water filter project. Only the families who wanted water filters received one so not every family has one. Some families (understandably) did not understand the concept of the water filter or did not believe it would work and therefore didn’t want one. Many families are using their water filters but there are a few that aren’t using them. The people who don’t use them typically said they weren’t using them because it was too much time, they didn’t think it worked, or it was broken. The families who are using their water filters say that they can definitely tell there is a difference in their health; it has improved!

Job: Most of the people in the cantons are farmers who work on milpas (farms with corn and beans). This is why when we do censuses like this not all of the family is home; someone has to be out attending to the crops. This is their livelihood. And unfortunately, the previous bean and corn crops were very poor. Just before they were to be harvested the rains came for several days. It destroyed the crops and people were only able to harvest about 10% - 20% of what they usually bring in.

After the questions each family was presented with a piocha. A piocha is like a pickax that is very common in the cantons. The single women and one older couple were given a rake. After each gift was presented a picture was taken of the family at their home. Some pictures were inside and some were outside. Many people put on different clothes or brushed their hair so they looked nice for the photo. A few people didn’t want their pictures taken which is typical in every canton. We respect their wishes if they choose not to have their picture taken.

We had lunch today at the church around 12:15. They fixed us soup with chicken, carrots, potatoes, guisquil, and pipian. We sat around talking and eating for about an hour. Then it was time to hit the road again. We were able to get to several more houses after lunch. It was really hot outside and inside the houses. When we went inside to sit down and talk to the families I felt myself getting very sleepy, especially after lunch and sitting in the hammock with Blanca. But I stayed awake. It was fun to meet all the families and hear what they had to say. One of the little girls that was following me around played with my keychain, my bracelet, my necklace, and my earrings. She liked taking my earrings out and putting them back in.

We finished up around 4pm and will return tomorrow to complete the census and have a final meeting with the Directiva. When we got back to Berlín Jenny and I headed out to buy some more ice cream. We just couldn’t help ourselves. I went to the ice cream store so many times last year that the woman who works there now recognizes me. This time I told her I’d be here for 10 months. I’m sure I’ll be making weekly visits. We’ll see if I get there tomorrow!

Quote of the Day: “Dust happens”

A little girl at the first house

Her brother

A stove in one of the houses

Sleeping puppies

Playing outside

Three families that are related

Giving greeting cards to one of the women

She didn't see me take this picture

She's smiling!

Part of the group

A pig and a cat: an unusual pair

Blanca, the cat, and me

Here turkey, turkey, turkey!

The cat's little chair

Jenny, the photographer

Carao comes from a pod that grows on trees in Central America.
It is high in potassium, protein, and iron.

Why of course I'll try some

Dancing chicas!


She is very sweet

Talking to the kids

I love this picture

Sitting in the hammock

The older couple who got the rake

He loves his hat!


Mom said...

It's good to hear the literacy rate is improving and children have more of an opportunity to attend school. And thanks to the church(s) with their sponsorship of these students.

Matt said...

Glad to hear that you are still enjoying the food. I hope you can still say that in November. It's great to hear that the water filters are making a difference. Hopefully more people will begin to use them.