My name is Ravi and I go to Irvington High School in Fremont, California. I will be a senior this year and continue being part of my awesome and tight-knit cross-country team.
The theme we had for the day was “Working like a Local”. Today everyone had to wake up at 5.00 AM and walk thirty minutes to the local market to gain insight on the daily life of locals. Energy was low due to the non-stop day we had yesterday, but our walk to the market changed the atmosphere. People started talking, walking got the blood flowing and everyone got excited for what lay ahead in the day.
Once we got to the market, or the “mercado” we broke off into groups and paired up with local vendors in their stalls/shops. My side of the story included an amazing group (me, Tiffany and Kevin) and an amazing “mother” (she treated us like her children and also insisted that we call her “madre”) who made sure that we memorize the names and prices of the fruit and vegetables we were selling. Later, when the morning rush was over, she told us about her life and how she had worked for forty years, had three daughters and each of her daughters has a child. She works 9 hours a day at her shop and spends the night close by because her house is too far away from the market. Even then she earns less than minimum wage.
We were there for only half the day, yet I feel like I still understood the hardships of her business. She has to wake up really, really really early everyday to get to the freshest produce everyday, manage to set up her shop and then get people to buy her goods. Most of what I did with her was manual labor and after a while I was ready to quit, but let me tell you, that woman not only kept up with me but also overtook me when I started to lag. I have never seen a 67 year old woman move so fast!!
We showed our appreciation for the local vendors by giving them a picture of this delegation and having cake. After each group expressed their appreciation for experiences with their own vendors. Each group had their own special set of experiences, where one group both learned the Spanish words for the vegetables and taught their the English word to their vendor . There was one universal idea that each group learned their own version of, the hardships of the local people in Nicaragua.
Overall, we had an exciting day because not only did we get to meet new people and connect with them on a personal level, but also we also got to experience the backstage ongoings in the local “mercado”. In addition we were given the opportunity to explore our own tastes of the local menu other than food provided at the hostel, such as exotic fruits we could peel and share.
Though this sounds like the day was about to end, it was pretty early in the afternoon. After getting to the hostel, a five minute break and a flurry of planning we divided ourselves into groups and tackled the different items on the shopping list for our CAP project. Most people left to buy materials and tools for the project, while a couple of us stayed behind to plan the routine and sketch out the blueprints for tomorrow.
Today I learned that the products sold are just the faces of the history of the products. It does not take much effort to buy a product off the shelf, but realizing where it comes from helps you appreciate the things you own and not take it for granted.