Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Begging forgivness of our remaining readers

Dear Loyal Fan of Lily & Josh:

Admittedly we are roughly 2 months behind in updating you of our whereabouts and activities. Here is a brief outline of some of the key events. Photos will be posted and reflections will hopefully follow.

Early December: Visit from Moses, Reid, Jonathan, and Rebecca. This included a wonderful gathering for Josh's 25th birthday. Here is a summary of some of the highlights from this period.

(1) The Moses visit: Only 3 days!
. Swimming the Laguna de Apoyo
. Climbing Mombacho, Sendero Puma
. Reveling in the genius of Lady Gaga

(2) Time with Reid, Jonathan
. Reid, Lily, and Jay made Josh quite jealous with their trip out to Playa Popoyo. It included one of the best spontaneous dinner parties in the history of spontaneous dinner parties (post some pictures?)
. Wonderful evening in Matagalpa, including a ballroom hotel room of Loma St. Thomas
. Rolling in the Toyota Hilux
. Reid at one point noted, "Josh, you really haven't done much work this week." True. Wish I had done a bit less.

(3) Valle de Pantasma: Josh, Rebecca and Lily support Xoco's first major corporate social responsibility program event
. Becca and Lily were sweet enough to come along with Josh and Frank to Pantasma Valley in the north - 90 minutes from Matagalpa - to help run a 2-day business basics workshop for 60 college students in a naturally rich area, but very poor agriculture community
. Experience Frank's capitalist-anarchist "capanarchist" rants!
. Explored mountain town of Jinotega (and all 3 of its bars)... including an unbelievably overpriced pizza ($16?)
. Becca got a love note from a secret admirer college student on a "BizReal" (the monopoly-like money we were using in the workshop). It was tucked in her backpack and read "Rebeca te quiero"
. The students were phenomenal. Very sincere, fun and engaged
. Overall the event was an unmitigated success and we are hoping to do follow-ups with these students and roll the module out to other parts of Nicaragua where Xoco has producers

(4) Exploring the northern town of Esteli (Lily, Rebecca, Josh)
. After leaving Pantasma, Lily, Becca and I headed up to the city of Esteli. We concurred it was truly a special place, quite possibly our favorite city in the country. It has a laid-back feeling, really upbeat people and places.
. Lily got Josh a guitar made by a barber for my birthday. It's a gorgeous classical guitar. We wandered around asking people where is the barbershop where they sell guitars... we found it! What a perfect present. Despite Josh's modest vocal talents there might have been some ulterior motive regarding serenades.
. We toured a cigar factory. The tour was remarkable. We were all so impacted to the point of hardly being able to breathe in the fermentation room. Subsequently, we started smoking some of the inventory in the back room with the tour guide, Ernesto. Then Lily and Becca got a bunch of gifts - boxes and all. The tour made no effort to sugar-coat the working conditions, which were sub-par. The cigars were beautifully hand-rolled, and we learned the basics of the process. For example, the exterior leaves cost 5x more than the interior leaves as they are specially selected for appearance. Frequently the Nicaraguan factories will actually import the exterior leaves from Indonesia (despite having a robust tobacco harvest) based on the quality the buyer needs and the domestic availability (often low).
. Clinica Mama Licha. After the cigar factory we went to a maternity clinic run by one of Becca's heroes, "La Mama Licha." What a beautiful, energetic inspiring woman (of 70 years old!). She works 6 days a week and inspires the world to think about maternity and midwifery in a natural way. The highlight for, translated, was when Mama Licha said to Becca "I want you to come live with me so I can show you a little bit of what I know." Maravilloso!!

Photos coming.

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