Saturday, June 7, 2008

Un muy grande granga y un muy guapo granadero

If you could translate that title, then you are hopefully chuckling right now....

First of all, this morning I am back at the Galerias Mal to blog. I have been enjoying a very low key morning and I think I might see a movie in a bit...in English, with Spanish subtitles of course. There is a possibility that my evening might include an Enrique Iglesias concert, but that is still to be determined. Tomorrow I am planning on trying a new church here and then going to the local zoo that is home to all the animals of Nicaragua!

Anyway, hopefully you are gathering that this week has just been absolutely wonderful, and yesterday put the perfect cap on it! My friend Ruth´s (from work) husband is the man who works wiht the company that lends money to farmers here in Nicaragua, but actually throughout Latin America. Yesterday morning, he (Rod...I think?) came and picked me up to drive to a cattle ranch the company is financing! We drove about two and a half hours to the town of Juigalpa (sp?) and then the ranch manager met us to lead us forty more minutes down a dirt road....let me tell you, we were in the boonies of Nicaragua.

The drive over there was neat because it was new territory for me and also I had a captive person in the car that I could pick his brain about the organization he works for and agriculture in Nicaragua....let me tell you, it was great..for me anyway! Basically his organization lends money to family farmers here who are interested in exporting. They dont deal in small loans, but over $100,000. Obviously there is so much subsistence agriculture here, but surprisingly there is also a large portion of the industry that is very modern and efficient. Apparently peanuts, sugar, and coffee are the primary products grown for exporting but also in the country there are large amounts of rice, beans, plantains, and cattle produced.

The ranch is owned by a very, very, VERY wealthy family here in Nicaragua. I am still sorting out the conversions, but the ranch is about 8,500 manzanas which is a very odd measurement they use....regardless, the ranch was huge! The man who runs the ranch was named Oscar. Let me explain a bit about Oscar. First of all, he only spoke Spanish but there are some things that transcend a language and kindness, intelligence, sincerity, and down to earthness are a few things that Oscar was exuding....then I found out he was 23....then I looked for a ring....when I didnt see one, I spent the rest of the day trying to decide whether we should get married in the US or here...(just kidding!!) However, I was thankful that we spoke different languages and that I was trying to not be in the way too much of Rod and his business to discuss, because had I been able to talk more and had I learned that this nice, ambitous, young rancher was also a Christian...well, lets just say I might have not come back to Managua yesterday...lol

Okay, in all seriousness now, Oscar, Rod and I hopped in the back of a pick up and drove around the ranch. The ranch is intensely managed and on the wall of the office was the breakouts of how each lot is separated and the grazing rotation. Also on the wall was information about the cattle genetics and the breeds. They are working to achieve breeding that results in cattle that are one quarter Brahman, one quarter Angus Rojo (!), one quarter Simmental, and one quarter Seminpole (?) so they will resist the heat and produce quality meat. They are using AI and are intensely managing their breeding. Next year, they will start using the chips in the ears for identification purposes...very cool.

As great as it was to be on a beautiful ranch in Nicaragua riding around looking at cows, I couldnt help but realize how similar it felt to riding around any other pasture in the back of the pickup. First they showed us the electric fence, which they tested with a tester like yours Mom! Then we looked at several pastures of cattle, and they even had the big blue barrels cut in half long ways for feed troughs! We also saw the chute where they vaccinate, etc. and if it were a lot rustier and older it would have looked the same as yours also Mom. I thought all of that was really cool...smiley face.

Oh another interesting thing about the ranch is that when the Sandonistas were in power before, they were notorious for taking land from farmers...literally just the government TOOK the land. After the Sandonistas were no longer in power, some people were given their land back and others were just given money for it. The ENTIRE ranch had been taken during that time and was held by the government for about 10 years, so they have only had it back for about 15...isnt that crazy???

For lunch, there was a lady who served us fish...the whole thing! Thankfully I am getting good at conquering the fish in its natural form. She also made something called calala which was a delicious juice made from passion fruit....have I mentioned how great the food is here??

On the way home, it POURED...the whole way. I was sooooo glad that it worked out for me to take the day off from work (Roger suggested I do it, and he teases me about being a lazy gringa...lol) and visit the ranch and talk with Rod. We are currently making plans to visit more operations! The learner in me and the Ag nerd is looooving the sound of that!

Mom, do you mind if I just stay here? smiley face!



To be quite frank, one of my major objectives in this experience is to obviously gain skills that I can use elsewhere, but more importantly to gain insight into what I really am looking for in a career. I am really, really getting into my project because of the puzzleness of it all and the challenge of piecing it together....at the same time, I know that I was extremely intrigued and excited visiting with Rod and the folks at the cattle ranch. I am not sure what that means specifically, but I think personally it is worthy of noting. Okay, sorry for that boring paragraphÑ...smiley face!

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Jennifer said...
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