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Nicaragua 2009
(page 3 of 4)

Volcan Masaya, which belches cumulus-size clouds of sulfuric gas every few seconds. Pacific Parakeets nest in the cliff walls, which go down much further than you can see here. Somoza dropped some famous revolutionaries in here from helicoptors.

The view from Finca Esperanza Verde, where we spent a weekend. It's an active shade coffee farm and ecolodge, created by and for the community of San Ramon, east of Matagalpa.

Reed on the hammock at Finca Esperanza Verde.

Noah and Bunky on a hammock; Luke and Ben at a waterfall.

Shade coffee grown under a canopy of trees in the cloud forest. Shade coffee preserves the forest, is almost always grown organically, and provides income directly to small farmers. Sun coffee (and most commercial coffee in the US is sun coffee if it doesn't say otherwise) is the opposite: it requires more chemicals than any crop in the world, clears the forest, and pays low wages while the profits go to a large company. Nicaragua, too poor to pay for chemicals and with a history of cooperatives, has tons of shade coffee cooperatives. The birding here was fantastic. For a full list of the 142 birds I saw, see my report .

Fruit stands along the highway.

Nicaragua has been fighting the US for 100 years, 150 if you include the mercenary William Walker, who once took over the country. In the early 1900s, the US military ousted the progressive President Zelaya, who wanted to tax a US company mining Nicaragua's gold. They installed the company's accountant. The US Marines then occupied Nicaragua thru the 1920s, until they finally grew tired of the guerilla war led by Augusto Sandino (whose photos appear on a restaurant wall at left). At a peace meeting, Sandino was assasinated and the Somoza dictatorship began. Supported heavily by the US, the Somoza family ran the country like a personal fiefdom until the Sandinista (named after Sandino) Revolution in 1979. The red-and-black Sandinista colors were more prominent than the blue-and-white Nicarauga flag.

Another President Zelaya, this one in Honduras, was deposed in a military coup while we were there. This was big news, and hearing of the links to the US State Dept (despite Obama's talk) was no surprise to the locals. The newspaper shows the Honduran military blocking the runway when Zelaya tried to return. A US military base is only 50 miles away, but he apparently wasn't welcome there either. The US has used this base to invade neigboring countries (Guatemala, El Salvador, and Nicaragua) for 50 years, in exchange for funding and training the Honduran military. Zelaya had proposed closing the base...

Ben, Wendell (our Nicaraguan friend), and Caleb join a Sandinista memorial in Matagalpa.

Yaritza, Zac, Jenifer, Luke, Ben, and Sylvana restoring international relations.

on to page four (of four) of Nicaragua 2009 photos