Tuesday, March 1, 2011

San Juan de Limay

Last weekend I gave a seminar on climate change to the churches of the western region.  For the talk we traveled to San Juan de Limay, a small pueblo far to the north, near the Honduran border.  To get there, you drive for a little over an hour on dirt roads, up over a beautiful mountain ridge and back down again.  San Juan de Limay is famous for its soapstone artists and the road there is lined with about a dozen large stone statues like this one:

At the top of the mountain we saw a few coffee farms and gorgeous views of the mountainous northern region.

The climate change talk took the better part of a full day and a group of 40 hardy souls showed up to listen to my stumbling Spanish.  The talk was divided into: (1) what is climate change (the greenhouse effect and all that), (2) what are the likely impacts of climate change, both worldwide and in Central America, and (3) what should we do about it.  We also did a small science experiment to learn a little about absorption and reflection of sunlight (thankfully, it worked!).

The most interesting part for me were the stories from the participants.  Many of the church members and pastors in that region are farmers by trade and the church is developing a seed bank project in the region to help provide a little economic security for them.  After yapping at them for a while, I divided them up into four groups and asked them to think about the changes in their local environment and what the old folks in their communities said about the past.

To a person, they all stated that farming had become more and more difficult.  Years ago, good harvests were more common and required less investment of effort and money.  Nowadays, they said, crop pests were more common and farmers had resorted to using stronger and stronger pesticides just to stay even.  They also said that the rains were becoming less reliable and were causing havoc.  Now it is difficult to say for sure if these changes are climate related (after all, a lot of other things have changed over the years too), but I think this experience of environmental change made the other parts of the talk more relevant to their lives.

Dios es Amor // God is Love.

For this latest voyage we were joined by Sonia, Carlos & Cindy and their kids Camila and Cristian.  Quinn had a blast running wild, getting extremely dirty and playing with the other kids at the church while the adults talked.

San Juan de Limay is a ways off the tourist trail, but its actually a really beautiful little town.  It's nestled in the mountains and (maybe thanks to the artistic influence) the town itself is colorful and peaceful and well-tended.  After the talk ended, we headed out of town and saw a gorgeous sunset over the mountains.  We continued another hour through the dark over rough roads to El Sauce, where we stayed the night before returning to Managua the next morning.


  1. I was told that the statue of the woman is a fertility statue.

  2. Hi Connie - that makes a lot of sense.