Patty Osborne's Blog

Days 8 & 9: Nicaraguan Journal

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The land belonging to the collective was originally a privately-owned hacienda. When the owners fled during the revolution, the people who had been working for them moved onto the land and set up the collective and then persisted, despite several changes in government and political ideologies, in gaining title to the land. Each family in the collective is allotted land to live and work on and if they do not maintain their home or their land they are evicted.

The pottery there is run by one family and a portion of their profits, and those of other money-making enterprises, goes back to the community. The potters of Santa Rosa include Consuelo, who came along on last year's brigade, her mother and her aunt, as well as her husband, although he spends some of his time raising vegetables with his own father. Consuelo's father is chairman of the board of directors of the cooperative.

During the two days we took turns throwing and handbuilding and Daisy, George (from Iowa) and I got a chance to demonstrate some techniques and Consuelo showed us how she applies slip trailing decoration (for the non-potters, that means squeezing spaghetti-like lines of liquid clay onto a semi-dry pot) to her pots using a plastic bag, a technique that seemed to me to be a lot easier than trying to squeeze a hard plastic slip trailer.

At noon, as we meandered through the village in the direction of Consuelo's house, her daughter Cindy, looking very much like a city girl, came running up the road to meet us and show us the way. Lunch was a delicious homegrown chicken stew which we ate while sitting in the shade in the backyard.

On the second afternoon we walked through the village, along a road, past a deposit of yellowish clay, down a big hill, across a swampy area, and up another small hill in the woods to the pottery's deposit of black clay, which is on land that has been designated to Consuelo's mother. The walk was beautiful but it was also hot and the trail was rough in places—no wonder I felt sheepish when, in reply to Consuelo's question of where I got my clay from, I answered "from the store, in a box."

Unfortunately, after our first day in Santa Rosa, George (from Florida) decided he would have to leave the brigade: he had a case of "stomach troubles" that he just couldn't shake and he was finding that he just didn't have the energy needed to get the most out of the brigade. Robert's wife, Bev, who had driven up to Santa Rosa to meet us, took George with her on the 4-hour drive back to Managua.



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