Monday, April 12, 2010

Nica, Week 2

Greetings from Nicaragua, everyone!

After taking a local bus almost to Costa Rica- with a vociferous rooster and an even more vociferous preacher – and a couple days of salty Pacific treatment for our dusty feet, it’s back to work in San Isidro and the final week of creative workshops! This week is especially key to the project, both for story development and the “other” part. You see, these are no ordinary story books..

After each endangered species story will be a profile of the local non-profit partner, like Fabretto’s education program, special features on Nicaragua, and the Carey (hawksbill) sea turtle – one of the 7 species of sea turtles, 5 of which are in Nicaragua. Other pages will have the always important “Vocabulario!”, and These are some of the elements that we heard in our parent focus group could add a lot to the books from the parents’ and teachers’ perspective.

But wait, there’s more! If all goes well, the books will also have nifty educational CDs for the intrepid reader to learn more about conservation, do some fun activities (because who doesn’t love a turtle-themed crossword puzzle?), listen to clips of local kids singing, and even check out a Behind the Scenes section with a sneak peek into our classes and the daily life of people here.

To make this happen, I’m snapping photos and filming as much as possible so that we’ll have lots of color to paint with during book development. Doing an ethnographic film with local interviews could be a wonderful month-long project - if you had the time!

Early this morning I asked a man living in an 8 ft by 4 ft, tin-lined shed if I could hang out a while and film as he prepared breakfast. Fanning the small fire circle in front of his home, he cooked water from an old oil can and pinto beans until they frothed in his riddled cast-iron pot, and then switched out this pot for another with plantains to boil. Stirring his food and fanning the fire, he told me about the hard life of the people here, (Nicaragua being the second poorest country in the Western hemisphere behind Haiti) and how his skewed eyes see blurry because his mother was not given sugar while pregnant (hmm). Though he didn’t have much, he insisted I drink his hot bean water with a touch of sugar. Pretty tasty, actually, and I’m thinking one could make a new energy drink of this stuff in the U.S. Will experiment at home with bean-based drinks, if anyone is interested in a taste-testing position …

As my head is full of turtle-facts (I’m no wangba dan!*), here are a few for the road:

After long migrations and wandering, sea turtles march up right up the beaches where they were born (usually by night) and lay nests full of flexible, ping-pong sized eggs!

Baby sea turtles brave a dangerous journey back to the sea, but often head off in the wrong direction if lights or beach erosion confuse their orientation.

In many areas, shrimp fisherman now must use turtle ejecting devices in their nets to decrease the amount of accidently trapped turtles. It only takes them 40 minutes to drown (they have lungs), and much less to be ejected!

Turtle eggs are often sold as shots in bars as a protein-rich, if less-potent, alternative to Viagra.

*Calling someone a turtle egg, or dumb person, is pretty derogatory in China.

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