Tuesday, October 22, 2013

2013, Day 294 - Hormigas!

This morning we got started before dawn to ramble out to an organic farm where they grow and process indigo.  It was a pretty place and we got to see how they extract the dye from the leaves, aerate the water, transfer it into another massive tub where natural agents are used to pull the dye from the water, and how it is then filtered to dry and process into a powder.  Kind of neat and really great that the whole farm is organic.

After see the process we then took a tour of the farm to see the variety of crops they grow.  Along the way our guide Robert pointed out the different birds we were seeing and two of the more senior gentlemen who manage the farm identified all kinds of plant and insect life.  I love bugs and they did a great job indulging me by turning over wood, digging out grubs, and generally getting excited.  We also saw what looked like a wild gerbil with two babies dangling from it while it scampered up a tree.

We then made our way into a village called La Mora where we met one of the many farmers in the area.  After a roadside snack we hiked up into the mountainside farmland to see all their various crops.  Here they harvest most of the corn fresh but they leave rows of stalked which they bend in half so the ears can dry and the reinforced stalks can be used to support many varieties of beans.  We saw sorghum being grown for animal feed, turnips, squash, and loroco, which is a kind of flower that is commonly eaten with egg and cheese dishes.  It was definitely interesting and we did end up at the top of a hill with a nice view and the remains of an old brick building that survived the civil war.

Once we made our way back down the mountain and to the truck we headed off to another small community.  There we had a simple lunch of beans and rice with fresh tortillas before heading onward to see the local schools.  They consisted of a few brick buildings with open windows but looked well used and in good shape.  Robert told us that most kids don't finish high school and only a really small percentage make it to higher education.  Educated people make two to three times the minimum wage which he said is a good salary but the transition between primary and secondary school is often very difficult due much higher expectations than are generally met so kids get frustrated and choose not to continue.

Upon leaving the school we headed back to Suchitoto where Francene and I took a swim and relaxed for a couple hours before Robert returned and took us on a walking tour of the city.  Most of it we had seen before but we had a quick snack and he gave us a little more background on the non-profits that he works with.  It was a nice way to spend an evening and now it is time for some well-deserved rest.

Below is a picture of some leaf-cutter ants as they haul small flowers down the tree and into their nest.  These little guys moved really quickly so there were a lot more misses than hits :)

Canon 1D X, Canon 100/f2.8L IS
100mm, f4, 1/160 sec @ 800 ISO

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