It’s been a long day working as a local starting with our wake up at 4 in the morning which surprisingly contained giggles and smiles. We left the hostel at 5am and watched the sunrise on our way to La Garnacha, a community farm where 32 families live. Once, we got off the bus, we started with an energizer to wake up our sleepy spirits. After this we got split up into two groups, some milking cows and some milking goats in the cold morning. I (Ashley) never milked a goat before. I watched everyone milk the goat before I did and the more the goat got milked, the angrier the goat became.  Right after milking cows, we had rice and beans and eggs for breakfast then headed off to our next activity. Some of us picked up acorns to feed the animals, other sanded the wood cabins. And some like me (Maria) picked up cow poop, rode on a wagon that two bulls were pulling to go get grass for cows. It is also where I (Maria) got bitten alive by a family of ants all over my feet.

We also learned a lot and tried new experiences.  I (Ashley) learned about composting in Nicaragua and faced my fears of holding worms. YUCK! During our time at the farm, we needed to investigate a couple of things. Such as how much do farmers get paid? How many hours do they work? How does it compare to New York? We found out that the farmer I (Maria) was working with gets paid 126 cordobas which is about $5 a day. He does a lot work such as milking cows early in the morning, picking up cow poop, and cutting grass with a machete in which he injured his finger today. He also puts the grass through a machine to be cut as hay. He does all this for $5 a day and that is not enough to pay for all of his needs such as water, electricity, and groceries.  Followed by our last activity we ate lunch. We ate fried chicken, white rice, salad and tortillas. Then we went to look at the beautiful mountain outlook view a short walk up from the farm.

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Maria’s reflection on being a leader:

Working like a local was not such a tough day after all. Except for picking up the 30 pound poop with a shovel (or at least it felt that heavy). Also picking up the grass and taking it to the wagon was hard because I got splinters in my arms L. As La Jefa del Dia (boss of the day) I felt very excited for this day. I was literally like “Good morning Guys” loudly on every window at 4 am. I was super excited to milk cows even though I had to milk a goat. But lucky me I actually got to milk both! 😀 I was super happy. There were two things that really brought joy to me today. One was watching a glimpser, Sheik, milk a goat even though he was scared. At first he backed off but then everyone encouraged him and with the help and support of Jessenia, he successfully milked the goat. “Awesome sauce!” (Ashley’s voice) It was really a nice moment. Another thing that brought me joy was me being able to connect with others in the group. As a leader, I needed to check up on others and be around others and not just stick with one group. So as I was sitting around after lunch, I was checking my bag and I found cards in which I asked two glimpsers, Jmar and Justin, to play with me. They gladly accepted and as Jmar came near me he left his stuff literally 3ft away which included his cookies next to his book. There were dogs roaming around and then while we were playing cards the dog passed by and took Jmar’s cookies and ran away as Jmar ran after him for his cookies. 😀 Me and the other glimpsers were laughing so hard (It was a “had-to-be- there” moment). Something difficult for both me and Hackett as leaders was getting the glimpsers attention and doing the count off because there’s always, and I mean always, people who are not paying attention. Regardless, it was a pretty beautiful and amazing experience at La Garnacha thanks to Pablo (the community leader). J

Ashley’s Reflection as a leader:               

“As El Lider Del Dia (ELDD) aka La Jefa (The Boss) you have to able to take on a lot of responsibilities. Some of these responsibilities include: making sure everyone is up on time, making sure everyone is focused on the task (even when I have the attention span of a goldfish), and making sure we’re following the schedule and having a positive attitude. I mean who can keep high energy all the time when you have to wake up at 3:30 in the morning . . .  except for Maria. Yet surprisingly, hard work did turn into fun. I managed to milk a goat for the first time. Of course, I was scared and was asking for a new goat. Would you want to milk a goat that starts to stomp its foot when try to grab its udder? I didn’t let it stop me from overcoming my fear and because of that I endured a wonderful experience. My favorite part of the day was collecting acorns with Juliza, Newaz, Christian, Justin, Shaquille, William and Jmar. They have less of an attention span than I do. We started off picking them and then it turned into an acorn fight. It was really hard to get them back on task because one part of me wanted to continue in the fight, but the other part of me was a leader and I have to set the example. Today, I learned that running a farm is a lot of work. All the work that we did today is normally done by one or two people. I also learned that being a leader is hard work especially when you’re trying to get 20 other teen’s attention. I really enjoyed this day and I would definitely do it again if I had the chance.