IDE Field Visit

Our second day working with IDE Nicaragua was spent traveling around the Rivas area of Nicaragua visiting banana farms that were implementing several different types of IDE’s irrigation products.  Our driver, Antonio, who deals with product marketing and sales was an amazing guide and by the end of the trip we all found ourselves saying that the day was about 20% work and 80% guided tour.  Along with making sure we had safe and accurate travels to the farms (Nicaragua lacks specific addresses and in one case we were told the directions were to turn when you see the white horse), Antonio made sure to stop or travel slightly further if there was an opportunity to tell us about something historic or interesting about Nicaragua and/or it’s people.

Antonio

Our first stop was the banana farm of Don Felix Hernandez.  The most interesting aspect of his farm that I took away was that only a small portion of his entire farm was utilizing IDE’s irrigation tools (as his farm is a demonstration site for IDE Nicaragua) and the difference in plant size was between the two areas was amazing.  The area utilizing the irrigation tools had plants with sizes at least double that of the area without the tools.

IDE irrigation tools on the right, planted at the same time

Tube Emitters

Our second stop was Finca iDEal, which is IDE’s largest demonstration site (also the one where you turn at the white horse) and often they can be found testing different types of products from water storage to sprinkler systems.  After a short break for lunch we made our way back toward Managua and stopped at a partner organization called Opportunity International.  This organization was working with IDE in the testing phase of a cheaper type of irrigation system called a button emitter system.  Here they had set up a small model farm and were testing the effectiveness of the button emitters compared to the tube emitters.  This is currently the only “farm” in Nicaragua utilizing this new system.

Opportunity International

Buttom Emitters (Grey Buttons)

Belize Zoo

Monkey-ing Around

Before traveling down to Managua, Nicaragua, we made a two day stop in Belize City and decided to make our way out to the Belize Zoo.  After a 40 minute public bus ride we were quickly dropped off at a small sign that insinuated that we were close to our destination.  After about a 10 minute walk we arrived at a small visitor center where we paid about 30US per person to enter the zoo plus a 5US fee in order to feed a Tapir.  We didn’t know what a Tapir was, but we thought it would be interesting.

The Tapir

The most interesting part about the zoo was that all of that animals that are currently housed there are both native to Belize and rescues.  None of the cages contained fake rocks, “polar bear pools”, or neatly constructed pathways for the animals.  It almost looked like the zoo personel figured out the best areas for each animal and just set up a fence to keep visitors as well as the animals safe.

While it was small, it was definitely worth the hassle to get out there.  To see more pictures of our visit to the zoo click on the link below.

http://s1236.photobucket.com/albums/ff455/Derrick_webb/Belize%20Zoo/

Caye Caulker, Belize

The Beach

Caye (pronounced Key) Caulker was amazing! We spent about two weeks here and found it extremely difficult to leave.  Our hotel room, while not all that special, was fantastic because it had air conditioning.  We attempted to stay at a little house the first two days we were on the Caye but it was so hot we decided to splurge for the a/c and sleep more comfortably.

Boat to Snorkel

Other than relaxing and hanging out in the sun we spent some time snorkeling, traveling up to San Pedro (really glad we got a room on Caye Caulker) and I got my scuba diving certification.  We had a ton of fun and definitely want to come back with some friends and family in the near future.

Frenchies Scuba Diving

Lastly, if anyone reading this ever makes it to Caye Caulker make sure you find Jolly Rogers for dinner.  We ate here several time and for about 10 dollars US you get fresh grilled lobster, a skewer of shrimp and veggies, rice, potato salad, and chocolate cake.  It was by far the best meal we had on the Caye.

Flores & Tikal, Guatemala

On the 26th, Jess and I decided to begin our next journey up to Belize first stopping off at Tikal before crossing the border.  Our bus ride from Antigua took about 9 hours overnight.  We ended up in Flores, Guatemala at 6am on the 27th and quickly found a hotel and paid for a ride to Tikal.

And that same day on to Tikal, running on about 3 hours of sleep from the bus ride.  Tikal was amazing and the size and proportion of the entire place is crazy.

To see more images of Tikal click here: http://s1236.photobucket.com/albums/ff455/Derrick_webb/Tikal/

Tortillas Negras

Tortillas Negras

With the help of our Spanish instructors, we discovered an entirely new section of the local market we had never seen before.  Unlike the normal section we felt “comfortable” in, this section was not as cramped as those previously explored.  Locals were not trying to push their goods off on you and there was even a section that could be considered a mini-Costco with bulk fruits and vegetables being sold by the pound and larger.

Further Inside the Market

The end of our walk through the market brought us to the local fair that only occurs in the month of July, like many other things happening throughout Antigua at this time.  (Miss Antigua competition, the book fair, the Holy Father Parade, etc…).  Below are some images of the carnival section of the fair.  It looks deserted, however, apparently it becomes packed at night with families and teens.

Merry Go Round

Bumper Cars / Carros Locos

Abandoned?

Rainy Afternoon in Antigua

Its Raining Again

Its raining in Antigua again.  It tends to do this on a daily basis somewhere around 2-4 o’clock in the “Winter” season.  I was talking to my Spanish teacher on Friday and he was telling me that it must be nice coming from a country that has four seasons compared with the two that Guatemala has every year.  In the Winter it’s fairly warm here (around 70-80 degrees) and very wet and in the Summer its hot and ‘somewhat’ dry.  He wishes he could visit the U.S. and see what our Winters are like but said it is very difficult for a Guatemalan to get a Visa.  He explained to me that there are four requirements that are checked.  You must have a job, a bank account, a house, and a vehicle.  Unfortunately for him, he has a job and a house, but bank accounts are not something every Guatemalan citizen has or cares to have and as for the vehicle, his is his bicycle. 

Back in Antigua…Again…

After a very unexpectedly quick trip to Nebaj, Guatemala, we are back in Antigua once again.  It turns out Nebaj was a little rougher than we previously thought.  Our Lonely Planet Guidebook describes Nebaj’s foreigner population as “consisting of equal parts hard-core hikers and volunteer who work with the desperately poor communities in the surrounding countryside.  The locals, removed from modern influences, proudly preserve their ancient way of life.”  Sounds great right?  It was, except that the one person we knew spoke English was not in town for the proposed duration of our trip leaving us attempting arduously to explain in our broken Spanish what we needed or wanted.  With a month or so of actual Spanish under our belts we may have been able to make this part of our trip more enjoyable but inevitably decided to tuck tail and return to Antigua and attempt our lessons in a more familiar scene.

Our Room

Shared Kitchen

We were planning our Spanish lessons around the idea that because Antigua is full of so many tourists, it would probably be a good idea to get off the beaten path and immerse ourselves a little deeper into a more rural town and force ourselves to get away from our native language.  Turns out that without having any sort of crutch at all, communication was almost impossible.

The school we’ve chosen to attend in Antigua is San Jose el Viejo and looks like it will work out great.  While it may be easier to get by without knowing a ton of Spanish in Antigua, Jess and I will just have to be diligent about forcing ourselves to speak in Spanish most of the time.

More to come later on!

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