Saturday I spent the whole day with Vernonn Edilberto Beríos Bárcenos, the tecnico who is going to work with the reforestation project for two years.  We left León at 5:30 am, and made a large loop delivering fruit trees and plantain corms, returning to León again at 7 pm.  We accomplished everything we needed to, meeting with nearly every participant in the project and distributing 3,050 corms and 200 plants.  There were a couple mishaps along the way, which added hours on to our day.

The first delay happened when the check to pay for the plantain corms had not been signed the day before and couldn’t be delivered.  But the large truck to deliver them was contracted, and they corms had all be dug the day before, so we loaded them up and then negotiated with the manager at the plantain farm.  Could we leave the motorcycle as a guarantee and continue on in the truck?  No.  Could they let us take them on the basis of trust?  Well, that seemed less likely to me, but in the end they agreed, and we started slowly down the Old Highway to Managua, one of the worst condition paved roads I’ve ever encountered.

Vernonn had organized the day so that clients met us at crossroads along the main roads and loaded their sacks of corms onto oxcarts.  Everything went smoothly but slowly. Some farmers had traveled 15 km with their oxen to meet us, and nearly everyone was waiting in the shade along the sides of the road for us.  Only as we neared the last comarca, or village, did we get a phone call saying that the clients, who had arrived at our designated meeting spot two hours earlier, gave up and left.

We couldn’t leave the sacks at the meeting spot without any responsible client present, so we convinced the truck to continue an extra 5 km to the first farm.  When we unloaded, we found that the client whose house we had come to was upset.  Because the rainy season is already half over, we had selected only those clients who had available irrigation systems to give plantains to this year, and asked the others to wait until the following year when they can plant them at the beginning of the rainy season and ensure a better chance of survival.  But this particular client had missed every one of Vernonn’s visits, and the decision to wait for next year had been made with his family.  He wasn’t happy.  He felt that the organization was retracting their commitment and felt cheated.

Inexplicably we had an extra sack of corms, and after talking to him for a while we agreed to leave them with him.  There was still a high level of tension between him and Vernonn.  Vernonn left to track down some of the neighboring clients, and I asked the farmer, Don Julio, if he would like to show me his trees.  We talked about some of the possible reasons that the health of his trees was so varied, and how he could interplant the musaceas in terraces or Curvas a Nivel, to make use of the hillside to catch fertile water coming down from the cattle corral, and prevent that same nitrogen rich runoff from reaching the river.  He was defensive about every small problem, and the fact that we ended up having to stay there for three hours for the last client to come could have been a very stressfull unpleasant experience.  But when Vernonn returned, Don Julio´s wife offered us tortillas, cuajada, and beans.  We had been on the road for nearly ten hours without eating, and it was the most delicious meal.   Finally Don Julio sat with us, and we ended up talking about how he acquired his land and lamenting some failed tomato projects from years ago while we waited.  When we finally left after hours both he and Vernonn were on good terms.

On the way back I thought about how what I had been told would be a half a day turned into 14 hours.  A check order that didn’t go through on time, an annoyed participant, clients who left before we arrived and returned slowly over terrible muddy and pit filled roads.  What struck me was, while we were arriving home six hours later than planned, Vernonn – and therefore I as well – was completely calm.

There’s a reason people talk about Nica time.  Things happen slowly here.  Resources are scarce, infrastructure is often not great, and communication is difficult.  This is everyday life.  So you learn to wait.  Waiting here is not wasting time, like I usually think of it.  Some of the farmers waited for an hour at a crossroads with no buildings for us to arrive, but none were stressed or annoyed.  Waiting is part of life.  In this particular situation, waiting meant that we had enough time to smooth out a disagreement.  And at the end of the day I was so grateful for the calm acceptance of waiting in our work, returning to my house exhausted but very satisfied, without a grain of annoyance.

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