Thursday, December 6, 2007

Coffee Tasting

Hey everyone-

Just wanted to tell about the coffee tasting that took place today. There was an amazing turnout! We sold out of coffee in about 35 minutes. Which means we have almost $400 (including donations) to send back to Nicaragua for the Nemagon victims!!! People were very inquisitive, and took flyers about the former DOLE employees and said they would spread the word.

Monday, December 3, 2007

its not fair

As I was adjusting the temperature of my shower this morning, it struck me, what a luxury it is to, at the turn of your hand, control how much hot water comes out of this medal waterfall attached to my tiled closet that we call a shower. More than half of the world takes bucket showers, or don’t even have access to, what I would consider, clean water. When I got out of my privileged hot shower it suddenly dawn upon me, just in this bathroom alone I have so much comfort, a toilet that I can flush the toilet paper down, a sink, a mirror, medicine cabinet with medicine, lotion, a tooth brush with a holder, soap also with a holder, a rug to keep my feet warm and floor dry and a thermostat to control the temperature. As I dry my self off I look in the mirror and see myself, a human part of the race, and wonder why I have all these things and someone else doesn’t.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Top- Masaya Volcano
Next- Former DOLE employees/Nemigon victims
Then- Coffee

Thursday, November 22, 2007

I am a little confused and still trying grasp the fact we're not in Nicaragua anymore. I was especially confused about the fact I had been standing next to palm trees mere days ago... and drove 150 miles through a blizzard the other night. Anyways~ I'm still gathering my thoughts, pondering about what to do. For Amnesty International (the CMC Alpine chapter) we will be selling the fair trade coffee we picked up in Nicaragua for a fundraiser, using the money we make from that and donating it to the DOLE/Nemigon victims for any staples they may need, such as rice. Hopefully soon we will have a website of sorts for us to upload our pictures for everyone to see. We still have one class and another paper to write for this course... and I still have 3 anti-malarial pills to go. I've looked @ my pictures over and over again. All 750+. I want to do a longer study abroad program in Central America.

Sunday, November 18, 2007

We are now mostly all back in the states. Everything seems turned upside down to me. and it's wierd that less than 24 hours ago we were still in Nicaragua. Wow.

Friday, November 16, 2007

Welcome to the Jungle, Nov. 15

Starting the day out at 7:30 with rice and beans, the breakfast for champions, we had a long day ahead of us. A 45 min drive up in the mountains in Matagalpa to a fair trade coffee plantation. They gave us the background information and history before they put us to work. We were given a hand woven basket that was tied around our waist to put the coffee beans in. it worked out really well because when you pick them, sometimes they slip out of your hand but usually they fall in the basket. I had known idea that making coffee is such a long process. After we picked coffee for a half hour or so we took a hike in the jungle. We went to the top of the coffee plantation, about a 30-minute hike, and the whole way there where coffee plants on the side of the mountain, all over the place. The top was unbelievable; we had a full panoramic view of the mountains and the noises out there where incredible. As we hiked down, there where trees folding down and screams that sounded like gorillas that where going to eat us but they where only howler monkeys. Once we got down from the hike, the mothers at the plantation cooked us a traditional lunch. The best part of that day was one of my favorite parts of the trip, putting a smile on the kids’ faces. They where very full of life and happiness, they played soccer with an old rubber flat basketball barefoot, the kids make the best out of everything. Towards the afternoon we went to the dry mill, we learned how the coffee is made and taste tested the coffee,

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Behind the curtains

We are now over half way throught our trip, which saddens me. We have heard so many speakers and seen so many things, there's almost no time to let it sink in before taking another mouth full. Our minds our overwhelmed, and our eyes are open. This blog is concerning yesterday, our internet was then out of service. The first day we drove around and passed by a vacant lot filled with a makeshift shanty town. Puzzled, we asked why. We were informed that these were people who had been severely injured through a chemical while working in the banana plantations. Yesterday we had the privelage to meet with these people, and capture their stories with our cameras, heart, and mind. They were sriking against their previous employer who had knowledge of the hazard of this chemical, and are now seeking medical treatment and justice. DOLE won't grant it to them. Yes, an American company in Nicaragua has caused great struggles for these people. I wish we could upload pictures onto this blog so I could better explain what we have seen, but for those of you who are family members and friends, you will surely hear more and see photos upon our return. This week thus far, for me atleast, has made me want to change the direction I am going with school and myself to help with these kind of things. For a start, we plan on trying to do something in our communities when we return to create an awareness~

Sunday, November 11, 2007

What To Think

The more I see of the world the less I understand it. I used to believe that seeing and experiencing other cultures, would in some way make it easier for me to make sense of this world. Within a day of touring Managua my views of what it means to live and be happy have completely changed. While it's hard to see young children begging for money, they seem to have certain personas that, in a way, almost make me, a spoiled American, envy them. Instead of screaming at their parents for the newest PS2 game, they seem to walk around with confident smiles, happily making toys out of palm tree leaves.
Seeing these kids has brought up many questions in my head -- like what does being happy mean, and what would these kids have made of their lives if given the same oppurtunities as I have had. I think that people would be happier if they had no desire for pointless material things -- happier even than if they actually received them. As of right now, I can not forsee what is going to make me happy in life, but I am slowly marking off the things I know will not.
Michael Vogler

Saturday, November 10, 2007

Vijamos en la cuidad

We made it to nicaragua!! It feels great to be here! Today we went sight seeing in the big city, and i saw things i will never forget. Guns and old army tanks encased in concrete as a symbol of freedom encasted after the free elections in 1990. Old Govermental Headquarters turned into a political art museum with open roofs. In the plaza there, children would swarm us looking for money in exchange for their crafts made from the plants that grew nearby. We drove on top of the hill that overlooks the entire city which used to be the home and headquarters of the Smozas. Juan Carols said that people would say if you got an inivitation to the Smoza house, it was either to dine with him or to be killed by him. Now in the rubble, there lies a playground where families play and couples kiss. A symbol of Nicarauga's future?

We exchanged our dollars into cordobas today. our van pulled up to a sidewalk where a man with a calculator, and a backpack full of money jumped inside to swap us cash for cash. We certinaly arn't in America anymore, but I feel safe here with my friends.

Nicole and I went for a walk this afternoon, and we ran across a man with his two boys flying kites. They were in an open field of dirt, where rubble lies in the backdrop. The bright green kite shown bold against the cloudy blue sky. We walked past them to the rubble to explore some more and we found the remains of what looked like a house. A baby dolls head was sticking out of the dirt missing one of it's eyes, but the kites still flew agianst the blue.

There is so much beauty in this destructed world.

more later

Thursday, November 8, 2007

P.S. I think we should go walk around in the jungle.


(as safely as possible, don't worry bob)

Almost Out of America

I'm almost out of America, and I can't wait to see what's on the other side of the border. I know I'm supposed to be keeping up with this blogging every week (whoops to say the least) but until now, it hasn't really hit me what a bad job of it I've been doing. Just Joking, I haven't had anything really substantial to say except for the fact that I'm stoked to go.

In my communications class the other day we were discussing why we think so many Americans are diagnosed with depression each year, and as we were discussing it, it hit me that a majority of the population has no reason to be depressed, because living in America, we have such a wonderful life with really, no massive or grave external worries. Here's where Nicaragua comes in. When we visit some villages with a 90%+ unemployment rate,I can't help but wonder what the energy of these communities will be? will it be one of depression, of poverty, of life in the slums? Or will these Nicaraguans enjoy what little they do have, and be happy for life, not constantly worrying about what they don't have? Do Nicaraguans live a happy life living in the second poorest country in the world letting their lack of material matters not be a bother to them? I don't know how to express my question without sounding like a spoiled American... I just look forward ... to seeing the poorest people on earth smile. and I hope I can see that. see stupid American coming in again, but all that set aside, I'll see you when I'm there.

Tuesday, November 6, 2007


I am exctremely excited. Mere days until we're in Nicaragua! I went to the doctor today to get my (anti) malaria medication, which costed a lot less than I thought it would, and the doctor highly recommended a Typhoid shot. So I got one. Now my left arm is starting to get sore. I have so much to do yet before we leave, most importatnly getting a journal.

Thursday, November 1, 2007

Counting down the days

We are in the real count down now when things actually have to go from thinking and wondering about to actually doing. This kind of switch is a welcome change for me. I have been so wrapped up in thinking about the coursework and the implications of CAFTA on Nicaragua's economy that I lost sight of this amazing opportunity to go to a new place and experience a culture and people I know relatively little about. I have decided to extend my trip to Nicaragua for a week and do some traveling around Nicaragua with my husband. This week has been a frenetic rush of planning, research, spending (yikes!)and arranging to be out of town and work for 2 weeks. It has been amazing though. I feel like I have finally begun to look deeply at Nicaragua as it is right now, in the present. I am no longer seeking to only understand its past and its long and complicated history but also to experience its rich natural beauty, the cultural centers of Granada and Leon and the beautiful beaches and surfing of San Juan del Sur. I feel like a little kid, I am so excited to go, to completely disconnect from the ordinary day to day banalities of everyday life and work and experience something new and different. Being without a phone, computer and cell phone is also a tremendous bonus! I am bummed I can't be in class tomorrow but I will be thinking about it as give my presentation... they'll wonder how someone could ever be so excited about professional development!
Hasta pronto,

I Can't Wait

Only eight more days until departure, I cannot wait to go to Nicaragua. I am really excited to stay down there for a week, there is going to be so much to experience. I read on the internet the other day where they play live music at some of the places in Managua, I think we should check that out. Also I am really hungry for some for some real Mexican food. In Mexico I have had some mouth-watering Mexican food that is to die for, I am having cravings and I want to compare the two different country’s food. I think and hope the food is better in Nicaragua because it is not as commercialized down there.

Friday, October 26, 2007


I forgot to mention I hope we get to experience live music of some sort, I think that would be just amazing.

Numero Quatro

We turned in our first paper today on "what is CAFTA?". I can't believe we only have two weeks left. I am extremely nervous with excitment. Anxiousness? I don't know what I'm feeling, but I'm definately looking forward to this trip. I enjoy the company of all my classmates and feel safe and secure amongst them! I just hope I don't have any problems with my camera. It lost a shutter. Well, one of the little flaps. I'm going to bring all kinds of batteries. I just read in our packet today not to wear any camo clothing so we don't resemble the militia... which makes perfect sense and I wouldn't have thought about that before. I have to find an appropriate dress of skirt to bring to for our meetings. I need to remember Deet, and maybe some peppermint tea bags for traveler's diarreah, oh god that sounds horrible. Hopefully no one suffers that on this trip. I'm still nervous about the Malaria issue. Maybe just maybe I'm a bit of a Hypochondriac. I don't know. Anyways, I am very excited. I hope to gather a lot of information as well as photos, and I'm not going to lie, suveniers. Mostly I'm hoping to find really cool jewelry or an authentic nicaraguan dress or something. Definately Coffee. And The Volcano, that's something I've always wanted to see but never knew if I would! My two biggest goals are to come up with good questions for the people we meet, and to keep a daily journal when we're there.


Thursday, October 25, 2007

Nicole's # 3

I'm getting even more excited. The past couple of days I've been thinking about the trip a lot. I'm looking forward to eating authentic Nicaraguan food, I bet it's pretty tasty. The markets I bet are going to be really cool. I wonder how people will react to us, and the different things people are going to tell us wherever we go, such as the factories and the coffee plantation. I'm looking forward to tomorrow so we can go over more of the book and talk more about what we'll be doing and what to expect in Nicaragua.

musings to delay the writing of a paper

Looking at the time line of Nicaraguan history it dawned on me that the Peace Corps was active in Nicaragua during the Somoza error and not as I had idealistically first thought during the literacy campaigns of the Sandinistas. When my uncle was in Nicaragua he was an agricultural volunteer. I always thought his work there was a grassroots effort to aid poor, rural farmers, not line the pockets of a wealthy and corrupt dictator. I remember being mesmerized as a child by his experiences in Nicaragua and by the very idea of the Peace Corps.
When thinking about this trip, I am most excited about the opportunity to travel again with purpose. I have always enjoyed traveling and experiencing different cultures and languages. My most recent trips have been to escape our cold winters or for pleasure. I look forward to going somewhere to gain understanding and knowledge that will connect me to a larger world, empower me to help others and broaden my perspectives and open my horizons to new ideas, world views and global issues.
Now I have to start this paper!

Megan's Second Blog

Now that the weeks are narrowing down, I'm getting more and more nervous to go. I talked to my parents about the trip and they don't seem to excited about the trip-,y dad especially. My grandma calls me just about every day to make sure I know that I should never be out of the teacher's sight when I'm down there and to always have a bathroom buddy, NEVER GO ALONE she always says. They are my family so they worry about me no matter what I do, so I don't let it bother me to much. I can't help but vision what Nicaraguans will be like, and living there for a week. I know one week is not a long time, but it's better than not going or expirencing at all. Our book, Nicaragua: Living in the shadow of the eagle, gives an ugly truth about America's meddlings down there, and I wonder if we'll feel the effects of some of our past relations. When white American students show up to look at how Nicaraguans live with cameras in thier hand, will they smile for the pictures or wonder what bisiness they have down there? Will they be happy to see us and tell us their story, or will they...not?

Well, only one way to find out huh? I'll let you know what I find.

Megan's First Blog

I'm excited to go to Nicaragua. It will be my first time out of the country, so it seems like everyday I'm checking to make sure my passport is exactly in the same spot as it always is, I'm parinoid I'm going to loose it and not be allowed on the plane! That would be terriable. This sesmster I'm taking a conversational spanish class through CMC as well, so I'm excited to try it out, my goal is to speak as much of it as possible.
This summer I was involved in a program hosted by the state department and had tons of meetings with different represenitives from there, Hellen Thompson, and other infulentuial figures, so I'm anticipating this expirence to parallel some of the meetings I had in D.C. in some ways.
I really would like to talk to alot of the locals, and from what I hear they will be willing to give me that chance. I just hope that the lanugage barrier won't be to solid.

More Comming Up! Until Now blog readers


Tuesday, October 23, 2007

blog one

I have always been very intrested in learning about central and south American cultures, but i have never had a chance to travel farther south then Arizona. I have a feeling that this trip is going to be the best way for me to really expirience their culture. Much more so then if I was to travel there on my own seeing as how I don't speak any Spanish and on this trip we are going to have a translator at all times. I would imagine that it is very difficult to get a true sense of a culture if you don't even know what anybody is saying. All in all i think this trip is going to make me appreciate how lucky I am much more and help drive me to make changes in the way I live so i can better benifit this world.
Michael Vogler

blog uno

a teacher once told me to always make the familiar, strange and the strange, fimiliar and your life will be much more meaningful. i am really excited to experence this culture, to learn about free and fair trade and how much i impact the world without really realizing it. Something as little as the coffee you buy at the supermarket, effects a much greater picture then the average person thinks. they just go home and drink their coffee every morning untill its time to buy some more, never stoping to think "were does this coffee really come from?" I am excited for the people, the food, the hospatalitly , to make the strange fimiliar.

Sunday, October 21, 2007

Blog # 2

I just realized the other day that there are only 3 weeks left until we go to Nicaragua. I can't wait. We learned that it is going to be 90 degrees when we're down there which is going to be hard to get used to again. Then getting used to 30 degrees when we come back. Let alone the reverse culture shock. I'm excited for the market and the Volcano. I still need to think of questions that I want to ask people when we're in Nicaragua. We watched a film last Friday that got opinions of native Nicaraguans, and taught more about the history of Nicaragua. It showed footage of a large earthquake back in the seventies. I look forward to going to the fair trade coffee plantation, and hope we still get to go spend a night in the Rain Cloud Forest. Speaking of which I keep thinking about the Malaria shot. It makes me nervous. I don't know why, I'm not afraid of shots. Hmm. There will be a total of I believe six CMC students and two CMC professors from the ALpine campus and two more professors from the Leadville CMC campus. We have a great group to travel with from what I've seen so far.

Nicole Marcisofsky

Belated Blog # 1

Well this one is a little late... and it took me a while to figure out how to post mine. I was intimidated by Nicaragua Living Under the Shadow of the Eagle at first, but the reading is interesting and I don't have a problem keeping focused on it after all. We have a lot to learn before we go so we have a greater understanding of Nicaragua. I have never studied about a country so intensely before going to visit, which is why I this is going to be such an exciting trip for me. I have never been south of the U.S. border, another reason this is so exciting. I first heard about this course last semester and was interested in it from that moment on. I have heard great things, and look forward to meeting with various natives of Nicaragua, as well as gaining insights on different views.

Nicole Marcisofsky

Thursday, October 18, 2007

jeffrey marks

Going to Nicaragua will be vary diffent, I have never traveled to a county that lives on two dollars a day. I have also never bin to a tropical rain forest this I belve is what most intested me about the trip also that facked that the hole class is about one contery I have never had such I focest class on one idea
When I read LIVING IN THE SHDOW OF THE EAGLE I cant stop thinking about how pore Nicaragua is and when I think about that I think it is amazing how far this country had come and how much it has to go

Blog 1

I have been looking forward to this trip since I first heard about it in August. As my anticipation grows,the focus I had originally approached this trip with widens. I was drawn to this trip because ever since I was first introduced to Liberation Theology as an undergrad, it has resonated with me. I have been curious about the links between Liberation Theology and the work of Paulo Freire and others in participatory education. I have also been trying to draw links between Liberation Theology and Ruby Payne's work on poverty. My hope is that this opportunity provides a general framework for me to organize my thoughts, synthesize a vast amount of tangential knowledge and come up with the start of a PhD. proposal. I would like to talk with as many people as possible. I would like to try to speak as much Spanish as I can without the help of a translator but I know I will struggle enormously. I would like to see some schools at various levels and speak to teachers, especially teachers who had taught during the large literacy movements. I am curious to see the methods of instruction and the philosophy of education now. I would like to see how the country is handling environmental issues, as a producer based economy. Mostly, I just want to experience as much as Nicaragua as I can.
Knowledge emerges only through invention and re-invention, through the restless, impatient, continuing, hopeful inquiry human beings pursue in the world, with the world and with each other. Paulo Freire

First Blog

Going to Nicaragua in less than a month I was wondering, if we would be doing any camping out in the Nicaraguan cloud forest. If so, what would we need for camping gear? I all ready know that this trip is going to be one of the better trips that I have been on. Outside of the U.S., I have only been to Mexico and they were all drunken trips. I am excited for this trip because I want to see a different culture and compare how different it is to ours. I think it would be interesting and exciting if they have do some religious ritual while we are down there. I wrote a paper last year on sweatshops and had a lot of mixed feelings about it. When I first heard about it I was really against it but they depend on it. I am very excited to actually see the environment of a sweatshop, I am sure that there are worse ones out there but I will have a better understanding of it.

Thursday, October 11, 2007


Hi, this is Bob Gumbrecht, associate professor of Social Science at CMC, and the leader of our CMC class trip to Nicaragua. The trip is part of a political science course called Current Political Issues. We will be traveling from Nov. 9 - 17.

The theme of the course is economic and political development. In particular, we are going to study the impact of neoliberalism and free trade, especially the impending arrival of CAFTA - the Central American Free Trade Agreement, negotiated between the countries of Central America, the Dominican Republic, and the United States. We want to find out if free trade agreements like this are in the best interests of the people of Nicaragua, 80% of whom live on less than $2 a day.

We will spend our days in Nicaragua talking with as many people we can, from all walks of life: young, old, urban, rural, wealthy, poor, liberal, conservative, etc.

I am excited to visit Nicaragua and visit with all these people and have them tell us their stories, tell us whether this plan is a good one for them.

As I write this, we are about a month away from departure, and are just beginning our study of the country. As the weeks pass, each student from the course will describe our activities and post his/her thoughts and observations. Thanks for reading - and check back often...