Today is the first day of our second week. The group spent this morning doing our projects at La Chìspa, and then had lunch at an Italian restaurant. We spent the afternoon being tourists, with a little shopping in Matagalpa and a visit to the most amazing artisanal chocolate factory. I'm sure some of you might get to benefit from our visit, hint hint.
As a group, we've come through a couple of the phases of cultural shock. Dealing with the changed diet has been particularly challenging for some of our members, but they have all been real troopers and haven't missed a beat, even when under the weather. I think we are now all enjoying the experience, and have realized that our time here is actually short. Jay left us last night, and we were sad to see him go. He was invaluable to the team.
We have been extremely lucky and managed to be involved in some unexpected cultural events, including a concert tonight which I will head off to when I am done typing this entry. We got a private dance lesson with Doña Sonia on Tuesday, and then got to go to a dance show with live music (and some dancing of our own) on Wednesday.
From my perspective as a sociologist, I find myself critical of much of what I see. San Ramón is a town that is heavily dependent economically on foreign NGO's, which I view as tremendously distorting. While the work these organizations do is important and beneficial, they don't necessarily create the sort of durable wealth creating industries that this place desparately needs. Furthermore, it's highly idiosyncratic in terms of which individuals benefit from which organizations. We've also heard that these NGO's often have competing aims and intentions, which inhibits them in trying to combine efforts to realize shared goals. I'm working with several of my students to design a research project exploring the network effects of NGO's in San Ramón, and I think we might uncover a fascinating dynamic that highlights the way these organizations perpetuate a type of dependency in spite of their best efforts not to do so.
Well, I'm off for more music, and regretting already that I too will depart sooner than the rest of the team. Today was a peak for me and I've really settled in and gotten comfortable. Wednesday will get here too fast.