Sunday, May 24, 2009

Granada and Rivas, Nicaragua

Never use FedEx. At least, not if you are in Nicaragua.

FedEx routed our replacement hub to Europe because someone at their hub (heh, lots of hubs) in Memphis thought Nicaragua was in Africa. After three weeks of phone calls and emails between Bike Friday, FedEx, and us, the hub was finally delivered, ironically, by a kid on a mountain bike.

Back on our bike, we headed south through Sebaco. Gene thrilled the local kids with a ride on the back of the bike while I marveled at the amazing veggies in the market. We continued south. Just as it was getting dark, we rolled into a little town where a nice man and his wife let us camp in their sideyard.

People are so friendly and curious when you travel by bike. About 20 people gathered as we unpacked our house (tent), beds (thermarests), and kitchen (stove). That night we got hammered by a rainstorm, but luckily stayed dry in the tent.

The next day, we rolled into Granada. In Granada, a friend of a friend, Bill, graciously showed us around town. Bill is one of those guys that speaks five languages (or more), has lived overseas more than half his life, and knows a whole lot about a range of subjects. Of course, I asked about the trash scene in Granada. Bill said that a German is helping Granada digitize all of their documents and tracking information. Hopefully, with a more robust database, Granada will be able to track who is paying for garbage service and identify inefficiencies in their system.

So much of our experience in a town is driven by the people we meet. Largely owing to our pleasant introduction (via Bill), we were quite smitten by Granada and its charming streets, old churches, and historic buildings. After one day of gringo-land, we were ready to roll south. It was Friday, and I was eager to meet with the City of Rivas' mayor's office.

We pedaled hard and made it to Rivas by 1pm. I quickly showered and walked down to the mayor's office. I had been told by Matagalpa's mayor's office that Rivas had the first sanitary landfill of Nicaragua. Rivas' solid waste guy met my queries with blank stares: "Nope, lady, all we have is a big landfill. You can visit it, if ya like."

So we did. Saturday morning, we rode the tandem out to the dump. Federico, who has worked at the dump for nine years, showed us around. It is a very quiet operation. About 15-20 people glean out materials from the 7-8 truckloads per day. Looking at all of the organic material, I asked if anyone composted. Nope, he said, the only money is in aluminum.

Mounds of plastic bottles and other materials are stored next to houses of the people that work in the dump. Like the rest of the world, they are waiting for the markets to bounce.

We headed south down the Interamerican Highway, and made a quick stop on Lake Nicaragua to look out to Isla de Ometepe, rising out of the choppy waters.

Onward to Costa Rica.


Yi Zhang said...

Meredith! this is the biggest coincidence ever! I'm a current student at Wellesley, and I'm looking to apply for a Watson fellowship doing exactly what you are dong now. AND I am in costa rica -RIGHT NOW- (june 13) and will be here until september. ALSO- i volunteered at Maya Pedal in January and was in Huehue and Xela....this world is too small!!!! i am based in san jose (rohrmoser) until august 7th, but i'm free on weekends to go around--any chance we can meet up??? can we visit some dumps together? :]!!!!

i hope you get this before you've reached panama, or are back in OR.

And btw, i'm from WA, so go the northwest.

much rubbish and <3,

Meredith Sorensen said...

Glad to be in touch! Can't wait to hear how your trash endeavors pan out.

goclicknow said...

Wow, that's great, glad you planted it by the sidewalk for all to see! And if the vampires invade Portland I know where to go.

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