After eating a hearty breakfast consisting of rice, beans, mild sauce (cut tomato, onion, and cilantro), bread, and plantain chips, we sat down to hear from Cirilo Otero. Cirilo is a Nicaraguan economist who enlightened us on a number of key issues. Firstly, Nicaragua’s current economic model is based on two things: agriculture and livestock (primarily beef). Moreover, this situation developed 500 years ago when the Spanish came to Nicaragua. Nicaragua exports 33 items to the international market, but only 6 are important (these make up the most labour, and sell the most): coffee, sugar, minerals, bananas, tourism, and meat. He also felt strongly about the Vice President because of her creation of the Tree of Life structures throughout Managua (the capital of Nicaragua). Cirilo believed they were a waste of money. The group drilled Cirilo on questions regarding the U.S. Nicaragua Act. We found out that Cirilo’s opinions differed substantially from those of the JHC staff leaving some Brigadistas confused as to who to believe. Cirilo suggested we research the topic for ourselves to form our own opinion. Cirilo left us with an image of the regular Nicaraguan living in fear under the repression of Daniel Ortega.
Concrete physical labour followed our theoretical lecture. I (Leo) became a monkey and worked on the roof with Lucas. Due to a small error in measurements the laminated sheets we were drilling onto the roof needed to be cut before placement. We developed an efficient system of measuring, cutting, drilling, and repeating. Our screws cut the metal like butter, and by 3:30 PM, we had completed laying down all the sheets on the roof.
Other Brigadistas spent the day digging a downward slopping trench that will become the sewage canal for the new building. Some of us taped our hands in addition to wearing gloves to prevent blisters; our inexperienced hands were not ready for the tough hours spent digging. Janice spoke to the head of the construction staff who told her that he had not expected us to complete this much work in only one week. We finished with thirty minutes left in our work day, and so we planned a group picture with some of us on the roof and others poking out of the soon to be windows.
As we were gathering around to leave, we all found it quite difficult to say our final goodbyes to Pedro, Lucas, Victor, and Rinaldo- the construction staff we worked with this week.
Eve, Leo, and Effy