Relationship ~ the way in which two or more (of something) are connected.
As we travel cross-culturally, we become exceptionally aware of the opportunities for those relational connections. We refer to them as "meetings along our journey of life". It could be as brief as demonstrating kindly assistance at the airport to those for whom English is not their first language. It could develop into a relationship of significance. But it all begins at that "point of contact" ~ that initial "connection".
Our trip to Nicaragua was yet another opportunity to experience those meetings along our journey. Come along as we share but a few of those connections from our adventure.
Susana lives with her parents in the mountain community of Las Minitas and is one of the basket-makers of Fuente de Pino. Although our primary purpose was to visit with Susana to discover her story and review her baskets (which are superb), it was clear that very few outside visitors come to the homes in these mountain communities!
We were treated to delicious Nicaraguan coffee before we strolled through her mother's flower gardens, then had a guided tour of her father's sugar cane "plantation"!
We had the privilege of visiting with Maria Anunciación, the vice-president of the Fuente de Pino co-operative, and one of the more seasoned basket-makers. Our relationship deepened as she shared not only the trials of the past years (including a failed basket-making project 16 years earlier), but also her wisdom of what she believed was needed to move forward with the basket-making business. She is both a good observer and one who thinks deeply!
No visit to Nicaragua would be complete without a visit to a coffee plantation (on horseback, of course)! Emiliano's passion for his organic, shade-grown coffee was evident as soon as we arrived. We climbed (everybody else "scampered") up and down the mountainside viewing the various stages of coffee production - from seedlings to green beans. He was so proud of each of his coffee trees! We ended the visit with a really fresh coffee-bean "toasting" and a hot cup of the freshest coffee we had ever had right on his front porch!
In the town of El Sauce we had several opportunities to share in Enlace Project's evening adult English classes about who we are ~ our family, our city, our previous careers, and about Kingdom Ventures. These topics were but launching pads for more in-depth discussions ranging from our changing seasons (how do you describe 'snow' AND that in can be three feet deep?) to world affairs ~ of course stretching their English skills along the way.
Another initiative of Enlace is the Asociatión de Turista de El Sauce. Their mission is to encourage activities that will bring tourist trade into the region. This includes recruiting "host families", developing "tours" such as the one we took of Emiliano's coffee plantation, and encouraging micro-businesses like Fuente de Pino. We were invited to attend their meeting to share about our business ~ our goals and desires ~ and its connection with Fuente de Pino.
All of these were "first encounters" with people from Nicaragua, However, there was one relationship for which this was our opportunity to RE-connect! Who might this be, you ask? It was with Rosita, the mayor of El Sauce! We had met Rosita when she visited OUR city (Rochester, NY) in October 2009 as part of the Sister Cities initiative. We were grateful that she could make time in her busy schedule to meet with us. Coincidentally, only weeks before Rosita's 2009 visit we had placed our FIRST Fuente de Pino basket order, so there was already common ground between us on which to build ~ both in that initial meeting in our shop in Rochester and when we visited her office in El Sauce!
Naturally we could go on and on sharing about others we have met along this journey: Franklin, our faithful driver who did a tremendous job transporting us (along with everyONE and everyTHING else)safely up (and down) the mountain roads in his aging 4x4 Toyota pickup. The young school girls who timidly practiced their English on us each time we passed them outside their homes on our daily walks through El Sauce. Each of the adults in English class who demonstrated such a desire to learn to meaningfully converse in this difficult second language after a long day at their jobs. The list is endless; the experience priceless! Thank you for joining us on this amazing AdVenture!