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MAGGIE JO's BLOG

17-10-2006

Birmingham fairtrade campaigner Maggiejo St John send the latest despatch from her working holiday in Nicaragua.

Well, I'm writing this on my laptop, on my knee (no table yet) in my new "home"in Esteli. I've a room in the yard of a family I know, with the use of their kitchen and also the chance to help tidy the yard and make more of a garden near the room.

I've just come in from drinking beer and chatting, in English, with two of the guides from the project. It feels terrific that there are young people around the Miraflor Nature Reserve who can speak English. The first objective has been achieved.

An exciting bit of news for me is that one of the more mature students wants to turn teacher. He's going to alternate with the volunteers and teach a Saturday class in Esteli. And that's one of my other objectives: that English for eco-tourism becomes sustainable by new guides being taught by locals.

Marlon has a great sense of community; if he intends to keep up the teaching Id like to find a way to finance a visit for him to Britain as an opportunity to raise his own level and maybe to take a short teacher training course.

This year the rains have come very late and everywhere is quite dry, it hasn't been possible to plant the new crops but the rain and I have arrived together which is good. When it rains it tips it down and with zinc sheet roofs the sound drowns out even the loudest of the neighbours' music or the chanting from the evangelical church! The streets turn into temporary mud rivers and there's no point in going anywhere until it ceases.

I had a lovely weekend up on the Reserve, staying with Elim and Juan Antonio, my first host family. The changes they have made in five years are astounding. They had a pokey house for about 10 people doubling up in the beds and a scratchy bit of garden.

This is now fabulous, full of colour: roses, dahlias and other flowers we can name but lots more exotic ones. It's 1500m above sea level there and the morning mist hangs. On a sunny day it's hot and the colours are brilliant.

On a rainy day it's cooler and more like damp Wales!. Juan Antonio is trialling growing sunflowers for oil. If successful it would help the small producers diversify. Looks hopeful: I've never seen such enormous flowerheads. He hopes to have a 100lbs of seed this year so then they can cultivate a bigger area.

Oh! I did succeed, with much help to get the Nest Trust website up. There are a few hiccups but it's a start: www.thenesttrust.org.uk

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