Volunteer Testimonial: Joe Bushor
Joe "Pepe" Buschor has been traveling across South and Central America, visiting a plethora of countries to authentically experience life and culture in this part of the world. While traveling, he was recommended by a friend to visit El Sauce and get in contact with Enlace Project. During his stay in El Sauce, Joe volunteered and visited local communities. Here's what he had to say about his experience:
During my travels I always try to find the next unique experience, a hidden gem, the next untouched paradise. I was able to find that in the small mountain community of El Sauce. The location of El Sauce, being a couple hours out of Leon and on the way to the Honduras/Nicaraguan border, makes it an easy stopping point without losing momentum on your travels. The small town boasts its tranquil and safe reputation, as well as its pristine views and rustic feel. Stopping in a town like El Sauce provides a much needed break from “tourism fatigue”. It became evident as soon as I stepped off the bus; I was not surrounded by ten people trying to sell me a tour, a taxis ride, or point me to their hostel. The only person that I was approached by was a local who offered me his assistance. The first stop in my small town adventure was the local English class hosted by Enlace Project. After studying Spanish for an extensive period of time through High school and college, it was interesting seeing someone else learning my language. Most of the students are eager to start up conversations to practice their English. I participated in some of the class activities and got to know them more when they came on the trips to translate. The next day I joined medical students from Upstate Medical University, working with Enlace Project, and we went up to the isolated community of Ocotal. During my travels I have visited many isolated places off the regular tourist trail. Some of these places have provided me with some of my favorite memories and the best insight on their culture. None of these places have been more isolated, at least culturally and technically, as the community of Ocotal. This isolation provides a vivid look into the past as well as preserving their cultural traditions. Even the Coffee tour I went on seemed more authentic then previous ones I had experienced in Colombia. The efforts of Enlace are evident in these communities where they have little economic and educational opportunity. The people in the community are quick to mention how much Enlace Project has contributed in helping them achieve their economic goals.
For the time I was in El Sauce, I lived with a host family. This is my third host family experience. It has been a refreshing experience after 4 months of hostel dormitories. The family has cooked many traditional dishes that I’ve wanted to try. They have also provided the perfect place to talk about sensitive and interesting issues like politics, social problems and religion. Some of these topics are naturally hard to talk about with people you might meet on the street because they may be offended quickly. The host family also can give you the best recommendations of places to see while you are visiting their country. They can also help with giving advice on the safest way to travel and special festivals. After my trip to Ocotal I returned to the festival my host parents had told me about. The streets were full of people riding horses trying to show off their best. My host family said it is a tradition that happens every year in town, and they were happy that I was going to be there. Spending the night with a host family in Ocotal was a unique experience because it answered the question everyone was thinking; How do people live out here?. I have enjoyed my time in El Sauce. I will continue to recommend it as a place to see as I finish the rest of my travels. I appreciate the help the people at Enlace have offered me in experiencing El Sauce. I also hope that they continue to do all the great things they are currently doing to better the community.