Archive for January, 2009

Nicaraguan farmers

January 22nd, 2009
Don Ricardo with son and fruit trees

Don Ricardo with son and fruit trees

I went to visit Don Ricardo and his family in the mountains of Nicaragua.  We climbed the mountains in a 4×4 tortuously slow, crossing streams  and navigating huge divets  in the road.  When we finally arrived at the farm we presented Don Ricardo with a bottle of rum.  His wife made  juice for us: fresh squeezed orange juice, water and a little sugar…at Don Ricardo’s insistence we used the juice to chase the hefty shots of rum he poured us.

He then took us on a tour, viewing his coffee and citrus orchards, his dairy cows and his land.  A truck climbs up to his farm once a day to collect the milk he squeezes from his cows.  Sometimes in the rainy season when the roads give out he has to carry the milk to the bottom of the hill to meet the truck. He himself rarely goes to town.

After the Sandinista revolution many people carried guns, and during the presidency of Violetta Chamorra, those people with guns could not find jobs or food and so resorted to violence.  Don Ricardo was assualted my 30 or so men with rifles, tied up, and had all his chickens and food stolen from him.  He had a revolver, he tells us, but what to do against 30 men.  He shrugs and smiles.

The fruit trees that litter his farm he received from president Aleman, who came to power after Chamorra.  Aleman gave every farmer fruit trees and chicken wire to start an orchard.  Don Ricardo planted the trees and took pictures to send to Aleman to prove that he had used the gift productively.

His farm was immaculately clean, even with a dirt floor, and his hospitality was lovely: he invited us to stay for lunch and we had a typical Nicaraguan farm meal: scrambled eggs, fried salty cheese and tortillas with sweetened coffee from his farm.

It was beautiful, humbling and refreshing to see people with so little to be so thankful for life and so willing to share.