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Saturday, December 13, 2014

Big Cola en Managua III

Aunque varios cambios han surgido en la planta embotelladora BIG COLA en Managua, hasta más preguntas que respuesta tenemos. Como se encuentra documentado, esta planta, ubicada en el borde de un cauce en el Barrio Pedro Joaquín Chamorro, ha producido grandes cantidades de contaminación en diferentes formas, afectando a la calidad de vida de las personas que viven en la residencial al lado, y también al Lago Xolotlán.
Piensa en Grande? o Contamina en Grande?
FUNDECI y los miembros del Barrio Pedro Joaquín Chamorro han planteado una serie de quejas ante la Alcaldía de Managua, MINSA, y MARENA. Se ha constado que la emisión de ruidos excede a las normas establecidas por la ley en Nicaragua, afectando directamente a los pobladores quienes viven día y noche recibiendo altos niveles de sonido. 

Durante la revisión de esta planta, sus permisos de expansión no fueron concedidos tal como la empresa embotelladora pidió. No nos interesa que la BIG COLA se cierre, ni que se estanque. Nicaragua quiere inversión desde negocios internacionales, pero queremos inversión limpia, sin torcer al sistema ni contaminar al país. Nicaragua necesita de inversión y empleo, pero de inversionistas comprometidos con el país y su gente. Este punto le cuesta a la empresa Grupo AJE entender.  
La planta embotelladora BIG COLA (Grupo AJE) adorna al Barrio Pedro Joaquín Chamorro con rótulos dando propaganda a sus productos.  
Los dueños de la Big Cola, Grupo AJE, han respondido a los denuncios de contaminación y ruidos en una forma tergiversada. Primero, a pesar de confesar haber botado grandes volúmenes de contaminantes al cauce que se dirige directamente al Lago Xolotlán, la empresa sigue intentando confundir con fechas equivocadas y falta de transparencia ante el gobierno y la comunidad donde la planta está ubicada. Segundo, en vez de dar respuestas claras de compromiso con los vecinos, aparecen varias personas a reuniones públicas alegando vivir en el Barrio Pedro Joaquín Chamorro, hasta una mujer se declaró funcionaria de la alcaldía de Managua y no era cierto! Claramente, la empresa prefiere resolver sus problemas con el uso de rótulos de propaganda, en vez de hacer alianza con sus propios vecinos.
Los pobladores que se quejan de los sonidos y contaminación de la planta embolletadora BIG COLA, y la empresa Grupo AJE responde con carteles grandes de sus productos dirigidos al vecindario.

Los vecinos de la planta BIG COLA no quieren ver rótulos de los productos del Grupo AJE, quieren paz y vida libre de contaminación. Nadie quiere que la planta BIG COLA se cierre, pero Nicaragua necesita buenos inversionistas con intenciones de identificarse con la gente y apoyar a que el país sea cada día mejor. Una empresa debe participar en la vida de su propia comunidad y sus trabajadores. Evidentemente, la empresa Grupo AJE está acostumbrada a resolver sus problemas sin reconocer a sus errores y colaborar con su comunidad. Gracias a ellos, se han dado varios despidos dentro de instancias de MARENA. El pueblo de Nicaragua no es tan fácil como están acostumbrados en los otros países donde trabajan.
Ver propagandas como estas no nos resuelve los problemas que trae la planta embotelladora BIG COLA al Barrio Pedro Joaquín Chamorro en Managua.
Aquí presentamos una carta que supuestamente explica y justifica los vertidos de parte de la empresa Grupo AJE. Por supuesto, la empresa trata de deslindar responsabilidad, asignando los videos a fechas que no eran, y quedaron en plena evidencia ante el gobierno y los vecinos. 
Big Cola

Si tu te sientas ofendido también por la actuación del Grupo AJE, súmate a la página de facebook, Pobladores Ofendidos y expresa tu opinión. Piensa en Grande y exige un país libre de abusos ambientales!
Big Cola Nicaragua
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Friday, December 12, 2014

Learning Spanish online via SKYPE

People live closer together today than ever before. We are living an age of communication beyond our dreams of not so long ago. Two people can be connected in real time, in voice and image, regardless of the geographical distance between them.


online Spanish

Learning to communicate in Spanish is a long process. Even the best students grow from one stage of language skills to another. No one just wakes up speaking Spanish. It takes practice, guidance and discipline Not just anyone can go to a country like Nicaragua to study the Spanish language.

On the other hand, those famous CD language sets almost never serve as more than a minor factor in real language acquisition. The very nature of learning a language requires engaging another person for substantial progress.

If you can't just spend a month or two in intensive Spanish training in foreign country, there are still options available. Face-to-face contact in real time via Skype has made our planet smaller than ever. Today, you can have online Spanish classes in the comfort of your home, sharing and learning accompanied by a teacher as far away as Nicaragua.

online Spanish

Of course, there are a lot of advantages to study of Spanish inside a Spanish-speaking country. There, you can accompany your hours of direct contact in the classroom with the "chatter" that keeps your brain operating in the local language. This advantage in particular accelerates the learning process, given of course that the Spanish student not seclude him/her self among other foreigners after class! 

skype

A Spanish course to improve your language skills can be done without traveling. We can provide Spanish language classes via Skype for you, wherever you are. You can get some high-quality instruction to accelerate your rate of language acquisition, without the cost of travel. Extra hours of learning can complement a trip to Latin America without adding the greater cost of additional days of travel. 

Spanish school
Write us if you would like to take some Spanish classes via Skype (TM). We would be happy to provide them for you! 
Skype

Spanish classes
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Thursday, December 11, 2014

More from The Mountain School

Matagalpa is still known as a remote area. The drive from Managua to the city of Matagalpa once took four hours over a road with lots of dangerous potholes. Today, a smooth ride lasting two hours over well-paved roads gets you to there. The city is bustling, an overgrown mini-metropolis overfilling a tight valley between ridges. And on all sides, there is coffee.

Nicaragua
The Welcome Wagon is awaiting your visit to The Mountain School. 
A visit to The Mountain School can bring the rural areas surrounding Matagalpa to life for a visitor. Here, the landscape remains green year-round, and temperatures are never blasting as in Managua and most of the southern part of Nicaragua. The streams are always running with water, sometimes overflowing. The Mountain School is located about 12 kilometers outside Matagalpa, on the highway to La Dalia.
Matagalpa
Happy birthday at The Mountain School.
In this idyllic setting, The Mountain School works with a coffee farm, its workers, and the local community. Groups are welcome to come and visit, tour the farm, and learn with us. Groups are welcome, and we can provide Spanish classes, seminars and volunteer programs for you. You can receive instruction from some of the best Nicaragua Spanish school teachers, while learning about coffee production and rural life in Nicaragua.

Spanish school
The rancho at The Mountain School is a great place to start the day.
We can host groups of up to thirty individuals at The Mountain School, in rustic, ecologically compatible accomodations, constructed from bamboo, wood and adobe, with simple, country meals prepared in the coffee farm kitchen, using coffee husks and biogas for fuel. The ecologically integrated structures are used by visitors and long-term employees of the coffee farm.

Nicaragua Spanish School
This group of volunteers decorated space and helped with tending students in the after-school library.
If you would like to bring a group to The Mountain School, we can arrange your stay and include activities as well. Please write us at apoyo@gaianicaragua.org for more information.
Coffee picking!

Nicaragua
Any visit to the largest coffee producer in Matagalpa is not complete without an introduction to coffee tasting.

coffee farm
Which coffee tastes best?
The Mountain School
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Saturday, November 22, 2014

Cichlids of Laguna de Apoyo by Willem Heijns

People are always asking what is to see in Laguna de Apoyo during a SCUBA dive. Lots of folks have Open Water certifications these days, but most of them have only dived in tropical oceans, over coral reefs where brightly colored fish dazzle. Tropical coral reefs are indeed among the best eye candy on the planet. But people are intrigued when they learn that we SCUBA dive in tropical lakes when the ocean is so close. It's obvious to them that something very attractive must be going on down there to keep our attention, with coral reefs just a couple of hours away.

We at FUNDECI/GAIA study the fish in this lake and in other freshwater locations in Nicaragua. Lake Apoyo has clear, warm water (28 degrees C) which makes it easy to view the fish underwater. Our divers have been collecting data on the fishes of Lake Apoyo for years, learning about the differences between very recently evolved species and even documenting the species themselves. Over the years, other research groups have also become interested in the cichlid fishes of Lake Apoyo and neighboring lakes, especially the group headed by Axel Meyer of the University of Konstanz.


The fish of the Midas cichlid group are definitely the main attraction in Laguna de Apoyo. Since the lake was formed some 23,000 years ago, the lake has been colonized by a few species of fish, but the dearth of species in the lake has left numerous, broad niches available for specialization in feeding, refuge behavior, and nesting activity. The Midas cichlids in the lake have undergone a remarkable evolution, dividing into numerous species. Six species from this group which are only found in Laguna de Apoyo are now accepted in the scientific community. Publications which present these six species can be found here, here, and here. These cichlids are terribly similar, but they do not interbreed, and they even use different timing and locations for nesting in the lake

The video presented above, produced by Willem Heijns, is among the best quality of videos showing some of these species in their natural habitat. We hope you enjoy seeing this video. 


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Lake Apoyo
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Sunday, November 16, 2014

Spanish study at The Mountain School

It is no surprise to anyone that plenty of people live in poverty in Nicaragua. Many people in northern Nicaragua, in particular, live in immense poverty, where they are dependent upon the coffee harvest to survive. But not all is negative in the countryside here. At The Mountain School, we work with rural people to improve their living and working conditions. 

We recently hosted students from the Leapnow program at The Mountain School, in La Dalia, Nicaragua. The students in this program alternated Spanish classes with activities with local children, an introduction to coffee production, the natural environment of the area, and other aspects of Nicaragua.

The Mountain School
These students are learning what it means to make a cup of great, Nicaraguan coffee. Photo Gigi Austin.
Lots of people visit Nicaragua from far-away places like the United States these days. In fact, Nicaragua has been gaining in popularity among travelers like never before. But more is interesting about Nicaragua than just a lazy sunset on a sandy beach. The government and the civil society of Nicaragua are facing the challenges of poverty, of inequitable distribution and power, in fascinating, creative ways. Many Nicaraguans are involved in working with poor and marginalized people in Nicaragua. We at FUNDECI work at The Mountain School together with the Santa Emilia Estates and rural communities in La Dalia, in Matagalpa Department, Nicaragua, to promote better lives for the rural poor.

Most poor people in the region of La Dalia pick coffee during the peak of the season, from October through March, each year.  Unlike the poor of so many other countries, the majority of Nicaraguan rural people are small-scale landholders, which means they can alternate paid activities on the farms of other people with activities on their own land. They can farm basic staples such as corn and beans so they don't have to pay cash for them, saving the small amount of money they earn from other activities to cover the few necesities they just can't get except in the cash economy. Many of these farms are now enjoying extra income, thanks to organic certification and fair trade marketing.
coffee picking
Eating raw coffee beans in the hull is not recommended! Photo Gigi Austin.
As the Leapnow students learned, coffee picking is hard work. They jokingly asked how much money they would be making from their harvest, but they knew that their earnings would not be much. Experienced coffee pickers move fast and they still earn very little. Life for the rural poor is very humble, because there just isn't any way they can become wealthy, one coffee bean at a time.
coffee farm Nicaragua
This year's coffee harvest promises many jobs for Nicaraguan poor people, and profits for small-scale farmers. Photo Gigi Austin.
Picking coffee and learning about how coffee goes from the bush to the coffee cup is just one aspect of Spanish study at The Mountain School. The Leapnow students also dedicated several mornings to help the staff at the "ludo-biblioteca". This invented word means something like "fun library". This space is dedicated to the students of the nearby schools, to promote reading and creativity. These children come from homes where the parents can read little or none, and no books are ever seen in the home.
library
Leapnow students designed an astronomy exhibit for the local children in the after-school library project. Photo Gigi Austin.
Opening the world of imagination and information to poor, rural children ranks among the most noble of causes. The Spanish students from Leapnow gave of their time and abundant energy to decorate spaces, including a small exhibition of the wonders of astronomy. The skies are often clear in La Dalia, allowing ample views of starry nights. Hopefully, these children will see the same patterns that someone once named Orion, the Southern Cross, and Gemini. Or what if they even make their own designs among the arrays of lights?
The Mountain School
The Leapnow students helped decorate the after-school library at The Mountain School. Photo Gigi Austin.
Water will surely be the binding topic of the twenty-first century, worldwide. So many people will be without, others will be pressured to share. Floods and rising oceans will harm the lives of millions. In La Dalia, water abounds, year round. Streams teaming with clear, cool water flow faster than sound, tumbling over rocks and crashing in cascades.
waterfall
Water abounds in the mountains of northern Nicaragua. Photo Gigi Austin.
The Leapnow students took a cool swim in a nearby stream. Meditation in the mist of a cascade brings one ever closer to our origin. There is so much on this earth to enjoy just as it is, natural and simple. There is something of renewal about swimming; water brings us rebirth.
waterfall Nicaragua
Spanish students enjoy an afternoon swim near The Mountain School. Photo Gigi Austin.
The Leapnow students moved on and we are now preparing for the coming week, but we are grateful for Gigi, Skyler and all the students for sharing with us these two weeks.

The Mountain School Nicaragua
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Thursday, November 13, 2014

Birdwatching in Laguna de Apoyo Nature Reserve III-Land birds

As camera technologies advance, photography continues to become a more interesting option for birdwatching activities. Today, one does not have to be a professional or invest thousands into a hobby to take good pictures of birds. Many of our visitors at Estacion Biologica Laguna de Apoyo come especially for the birds, and some of them even take great photographs. Here, we present the second blog entry highlighting the photography of birdwatchers Jesse Bickley and Anna James.

kiskadee
Great Kiskadee (Pitangus sulfuratus) is very common in the Laguna de Apoyo Nature Reserve and throughout wooded areas in the Pacific region of Nicaragua. Photo Jesse Bickley and Anna James.

Ramphastos
The Keel-billed Toucan (Ramphastos sulfuratus) are always pleasant discoveries here, where they are easier heard than seen. Great photo shots of this species may be difficult, because they prefer forest canopy. Photo Jesse Bickley and Anna James.

birding
Long-tailed Manakins (Chiroxiphia linearis) males dance and sing to attract a mate. The senior male dances in tandem with a junior male who requires up to four years to reach sexual maturity. Photo Jesse Bickley and Anna James.

elegant trogon
The male Elegant Trogon (Trogon elegans) makes an unattractive growl but is quite a beauty to see. Photo Jesse Bickley and Anna James.
trogon
The Black-headed Trogon (Trogon melanocephalus) is quite common on the north side of Lake Apoyo, where Estacion Biologica is located. Photo Jesse Bickley and Anna James.

motmot
Our national bird is the Turquoise-browed Motmot (Eumomota superciliosa). The abundance of steep banks with loose, volcanic soils make Laguna de Apoyo Nature Reserve ideal habitat for this bird. Photo Jesse Bickley and Anna James.

eumomota superciliosa
The pendulum-like swing of the tail of the Turquoise-browed Motmot (Eumomota superciliosa) is thought to discourage predators. Photo Jesse Bickley and Anna James.


clay-colored thrush
The Clay-colored Thrush (Turdus grayi) acts and even sounds similarly to the American Robin of North America. Photo Jesse Bickley and Anna James.
Summer Tanager
Male Summer Tanager (Piranga rubra) make fill our forest with bright color about seven months per year. It accompanies hundreds of other birds in yearly migration, reproducing in North America. Photo Jesse Bickley and Anna James.
Amazilia
The red bill and rusty tail distinguish this bird as the Rufous-tailed Hummingbird (Amazilia tzacatl), much more common in Eastern Nicaragua than in the forests of Laguna de Apoyo Nature Reserve. Photo Jesse Bickley and Anna James.
Birdwatching
The Great Kiskadee is very common in forest edge throughout the Pacific region of Nicaragua. Photo Jesse Bickley and Anna James.
Chestnut-capped Warbler
The Chestnut-capped Warbler (Basileuterus delattrii) is the only year-round resident warbler of the reserve. Photo Jesse Bickley and Anna James.
Groove-billed Ani
Cuckoos such as the Groove-billed Ani (Crotophaga sulcirostris) have a distinctive smell which may serve to protect them from predation. Photo Jesse Bickley and Anna James.

Birding
The Montezuma Oropendola (Psarocolius montezuma) nest communally. Males and females divide the work around the nesting site. Photo Jesse Bickley and Anna James. 
birdwatching
No photo essay on birds in Nicaragua would be complete without the Black Vulture (Coragyps atratus), among the most visible of any bird in the country. Photo Jesse Bickley and Anna James.
Jesse and Anna also took some great photos of birds associated with Lake Apoyo, too. If you would like to schedule a birdwatching tour with one of our specialized birdwatching guides, please contact us!
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