Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Sabana Grande, part 2

The Solar Centre
A solar oven
The Solar Restaurant
Susan and I in the methane

During the next few days, we visited the places throughout the community. The Solar Centre was where the Solar Women worked solar ovens,worked on solar panels, and worked on other things also. They had meetings at The Solar Centre. The women built the Solar Centre out of bricks they made by hand! Around the Solar Center there was solar ovens, a solar distiller, a methane digester (thats not ready yet) for the restaurant, and a garden. Right next to the Solar Centre, they are building a Solar Restaurant because they got a grant from The United Nations. It is still in construction and will probably open in May. They will collect cow dung (poop!) in the bottom of the methane digester and cover it to collect the gas that is created as it decomposes so they can run the gas stoves in the restaurant on the methane. There is also a Solar Store that, by working, they can earn hours and buy things. For example, a solar oven would be about $200 and the women can't afford that so they work and then they can get one.
Mauro showing solar battery
charger, and PV panel

Yelba and Jorge working
on a solar oven

My mom and I at the Solar Centre
under one of the signs we painted

The solar distiller

The Solar Women working
on solar ovens

The swings

A map of Sabana Grande

To get to the primary school, you could just walk down the dirt road about a mile until you came to the blue and white buildings that made up the school.Many of the public buildings were blue and white, the colors of the Nicaraguan flag. Enyel and Yubelki went to the primary school but Scarleth went to the secondary school so she walked about a mile too, but then she had to get on a bus for 15 minutes. The primary school started at 8 and ended at 1, but they had a siesta at 10 and lunch at 12. Also they had three grades in one classroom with just one teacher.
The primary school 
All off the kids had to wear uniforms with a white shirt, a blue skirt or pants, black shoes, and white socks. At the school they just got a well which means they have water now!
The government provides free education but the families have to pay for the school supplies and the uniforms so it ends up being about three or four hundred dollars a year. Since many kids can't pay for all of their things, they don't go to school and then they don't get a good education. Also, some times the kids want to go to school but they can't (because of money) and so they have to work. One of the volunteers that had been in Sabana Grande a couple years ago (his name is C.J. and he lives in Maryland)and had come back for a couple weeks while we were there started a scholarship for students. Scarleth got the scholarship so she could go to secondary school.

Susan's House
Susan's house was a one room adobe-mud-brick house. There was a hammock in it and one day when I was sitting in it.... it fell down and I was laughing a lot but my butt hurt! She hung it back up outside after that happened. Right behind Susan's house, there was the Solar Mountain where they were working on reforestation and permaculture.

Near Susan's house was near the church and Scarleth was one of the Sunday school teachers. Down the road, towards the school there was a HUGE Ceba tree. In Africa, they call them Baobab trees.

The big Ceba Tree
The church

Our house was one of the 45-adobe-brick houses that the community helped build. They called these houses El Proyecto which means The Project. Everyday we would walk from the Solar Centre to lunch at someone's house. The first week we were there, we ate lunch at Dona Carmen's house who is Jorge's mom. Lots of people said that she was the best cooker in the community. There were a few Pulperias (little stores) in Sabana Grande and they were in the front of people's houses and there would be bars separating you from the store. Typically they would sell little snacks like chips or sodas. 

While we were in Sabana Grande, since we were only going to be there for 2 weeks, we didn't start on a big project, but instead, we re-painted the signs for the Solar Centre. My mom made stencils for the logos and we painted the rest by hand. We also were going to build raised garden beds out of bricks made from plastic bottles filled with garbage. During the 2 weeks, there were a couple other volunteers there. Jaclyn had been there for about 4 months before we got there and C.J. was just visiting. In March Cornell and MIT are coming and they are doing a course. 

One of the funny things about staying in Sabana Grande was hearing all of the animals at night. We could hear dogs, cows, donkeys and other animals too. Once all of the dogs were howling at the moon at the same time. Then they would all start barking at the same time and they wouldn't stop. My mom, Scarleth, and I were laughing a lot and it was really funny!! 

Us at the top
Enyel and I climbing up to the top

One Sunday afternoon, Scarleth and Enyel took my mom and I up the little mountain behind our house. On the way to the top, we saw a spring with cold water in it. There were people washing there clothes there. We crossed under some barb wire a couple times along the way and the ground was covered in pine needles. We were in a pine forest with pine trees all around us. Near the top, it was hard to climb because all of the rocks had pine needles on them. Our feet kept slipping on them but eventually we reached the top. There was a great view of the community. 
Us at the top again!

The view of Sabana Grande from the top.

 Sabana Grade was a nice place with nice people and I liked living there a lot. I just wished they had warm showers! The solar women really worked hard and I was impressed at everything they accomplished. They inspired me to do my science project on solar cookers, too.


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