Before the day even started, we knew that today would be filled from morning to night with countless activities but we had no idea what we would learn or what a great adventure it would be.
Our extremely eventful day began promptly at 7:30 AM, when we woke up and got ready for breakfast at Imabite. For breakfast, we had the familiar Gallo pinto, fried quesadilla, and pineapple. Afterwards, we walked five blocks from our hostel to the depths of the Nicaraguan marketplace, where we split into groups and went to our own tiendas, or stores. In these tiendas, they sold basic necessities like shoes, clothes, soap, and baby items. Here, we learned just how hard being a vendor is since the potential consumers walk quickly down the market, not really paying attention to the stores around them. Each individual vendor emphasized to us that basic conversation and interaction with consumers provided the best business. Nevertheless, business was slow and it is very hard for people who work in marketplaces to earn money.
While sharing lunch with our vendors, we learned that at the end of the day these vendors are devoted to their practice- like one of our vendors who is 68 and has been doing this for 32 years- and work day to night, rain or shine. The same kind of devotion was shown at Tosca’s where we met Hisel Martinez, the manager.
Tosca’s is a sandal company whose factory we visited today. Before entering Tosca’s, we learned about “Zona Franca”. Zona Franca is a business model in which US companies outsourced goods to reduce cost. After shipping them to the US at a cheap price, the Nicaraguan brand was “erased” and the name brand Teva replaced it. Many Nicaraguan workers were stripped of their true earnings and the business was exploited due to this practice. Fortunately, this does not happen anymore.
At Tosca’s, all of the supplies they use for their sandals originated in Central America and none of them go to waste. They use every last bit, literally. They use the extra foam from the base of the sandal to create a piece for arch support. These sandals are made in an assembly line, something that we have never seen before, and all of the employees had to work quickly to get everything done. These workers make over 2,000 sandals every day. After learning about everything and meeting Hisel, we had the opportunity to support her business and purchase the sandals. Thank you Hisel!
Our busy day continued with a presentation for the organization we are doing a community project for, Barilete, and it was a huge success! Maria loved our ideas and we are so excited to start working in a couple of days.
The day winded down with our third English class and reflecting on the crazy day before heading off to bed. All of us are so excited for the days left to come, starting with volcano boarding tomorrow!
Jazmine and Rachel