Lonna Harkrader founded Sister Communities of San Ramón, Nicaragua with her husband Richard in 1993. They come down every year and spend some time in San Ramón to work with us and visit their long-time friends. I asked Lonna to share a little about makes San Ramón so special to her. Here is her answer.
As I sit here listening to hundreds of chocoyitos (large parakeets) making a racket as they settle down for the night, I am reminded of so many unique and exotic experiences that happen here in San Ramón, and nowhere else I have been. Some of these experiences happen because of the 26 years of visits I have been making. It’s the same when people who have come on ecotours come back more than once, they are treated as special friends.
But on this visit, because I have a broken leg and can’t get around very easily, friends drop in throughout the day to visit. And since this is January, they inevitably bring a bag of citrus fruit of some variety. All the fruits, even the sour oranges, have a purpose in the Nicaraguan kitchen even if only to make “refresco”, a juice drink diluted with water and added sugar. Until today there were so many piles of fruit around our kitchen, I didn’t see how we would ever consume them. But since Nicaraguan citrus fruits need to have the peel cut off before they are squeezed because of the bitterness of the peel, some of the fruit is lost is the peeling making it necessary to use more fruit to make a glass of juice than if I were using Florida oranges.
Because I love San Ramón so much and find the people who have made history here so fascinating, I encouraged Sister Communities of San Ramón to build an interactive museum that would include videos of all these people. One video is of the person who started the first preschool. Another is of the person who started the first primary school. And on and on the list goes: the lady whose grandparents founded the municipality of San Ramón, the high schooler who helped form the first tourism guide club, the musician who was also a fighter during the revolution, etc. A videographer team filmed all the people in the town and countryside who played a special part in the formation of this municipality to create Nuestro San Ramón (www.nuestrosanramon.org).
This is what keeps me coming back after all these years- the rich abundance that these wonderful people so freely share with me. Whether it is the fruit of their orchards and gardens or their amazing stories, the people of San Ramón have awed us over and over again with how much they have to give. This generosity is the basis of one of our founding principles of non-paternalism; they have taught us that we have just as much to receive as we have to give.
Visit www.nuestrosanramon.com and see for yourself. I predict you will find the stories of this large rural, mountainous county to be fascinating and impressive as we do.