Monday, May 24, 2010

May 24, 2010 – There and Back Again

We left the house at 8 a.m. and didn’t get home till 5:15 p.m. It’s been a full day.

We woke up to rain – it had been raining quite hard since about 2 a.m. – and it was still raining strong when we got up at about 5:30 … and I was worried. We had a full day of driving and visiting cantons planned. And the roads can get VERY bad when wet.

This morning we planned to go to El Tablón Cerna with 4 people from the UCA and 3 from the ‘Ministerio de Agricultura y Granaderia’ (MAG).

This was the ministry’s first visit to get a sense of the Cooperative being formed in Cerna. They are the ones who create and enforce the legal requirements of Cooperatives. If they don’t think a group is ready or able to become a co-op, they can deny the petition. So this was to be a very important meeting.

The rain finally stopped about 7:30. The UCA and MAG people arrived at 8 and we were on our way.

Two of the Ministry people spoke for over 3 hours. They explained in more detail what the requirements are and their rights and responsibilities as a co-op. It was really quite interesting. They spoke well and were very clear. They were really good with the members of the co-op. And the few times they asked questions of the community people, they received good responses.

There are now officially 21 members. And it looks like they are good to go

It was a good meeting but long. And hot. The UCA folk did bring a snack. They brought pop for everyone and WONDERFUL pastries. I’m glad they did, because I had forgotten to eat breakfast!

I was so sleepy during this meeting – the heat and sitting for so long does me in. And for as well as these men spoke and as interesting as it was, I had to keep biting the inside of my cheek to keep my eyes open. Mostly it was the heat.

The meeting ended about 12:45 – Otilia and I had driven to Cerna in the Pastoral House truck because we had a mass to go to in Virginia right after our MAG meeting. The UCA people and the MAG people drove in their own vehicles.

Otilia had packed a couple of tamales for us to eat between Cerna and Virginia – and a couple of cheese sandwiches. But – bless their hearts – the UCA folks handed us a Quizno’s bag with two big sandwiches! (Yes… I did say Quizno’s). That was SO nice of them. We were very surprised. They also sent the leftover pastries home with us! YUM

Virginia is a canton very close to Cerna – about 20 minutes or so away from Cerna. We were not planning to go back to the Pastoral House first because the mass was to start at 1:30 and it would have been WAY out of our way to go home and return. We had been invited to attend this special mass for their Patron Saint. They had lunch before and snacks after … they had a band from Alegria come in complete with keyboard and big drum set. They are a good group.

We got there right as the mass started. Father Santos was already there looking very hot in his vestments. It was a regular mass but we also had a baptism.

And the church was crowded. And of course, it was hot. And now I had a full tummy so I was really sleepy. But the music helped. And the frequent changing of posture – standing to sitting to kneeling …

But then the rain began to fall again. And it rained hard. I really hate to drive the muddy roads in the rain. But what to do – no sense worrying. I would just go slowly. So we enjoyed the rest of the mass. We didn’t linger afterwards though. Otilia needed to get back for a 4 p.m. meeting in her community. We left Virginia about 2:45 with bags full of little sandwiches, fruit drink and pan dulce. We made it home within an hour. Not too bad considering the (now lightly) falling rain. And we have a good truck – 4x4 standard shift.

As soon as we got to the Pastoral House, we needed to get Otilia to her community for that meeting. Alejandro was at the house, so we took advantage to give him some driving time in and give me a break from driving.

When we got to San Lorenzo, the meeting had already started. The church (meeting place) was packed. 2 people from InterVida (an NGO that does really good work in the communities) and 2 people from City Hall were leading the meeting. They were talking about being organized. This community needs help in this department. The 2 community leaders (there should be 11 active) are doing it all with no support from the rest of the community. So this was a motivational meeting – and an educational one. The community is in need of more involvement from more people. I wasn’t planning to stay at this meeting, but Otilia asked if I wanted to come in for “a bit” … sure I said. An hour later I was still there … it was a good meeting. Again – GREAT speakers from InterVida. They said that if a community is organized and working together to better the community … with a legal Directiva (city board) then they can come in and work and bring projects to better the community. But without that – they cannot come. Same with City Hall. Same with other institutions. Without a legal Directiva and a community that cares about their own well-being – organizations won’t even consider bringing projects in.

I left before the hand count of people willing to unite to work to better themselves. By then it was beginning to get dark and raining again. And we needed to get back.

I can’t believe I had enough energy to even write this… I’ll save my official Cerna/UCA/MAG report for tomorrow though. I think I’m going to hit the hay!

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