Renovables, a unicyclist, and Carnival Queens

February 19, 2011

Woke up early (body clock doesn’t know what time it is!) so I took the chance to have a quick swim before breakfast and then caught up with emails and started writing a trust funding application. What did we do before laptops and wireless?! Its great to be able to keep in touch with the office and do my job from half a world away.  

Later we took a cab across town to meet with some staff from our partner organisation bluEnergy, and Renovables – the new industry association for the renewables industry in Nicaragua. I spoke (thanks to Neil’s excellent translation – my Spanish is paltry) to Dinora Sandino – the new Executive Director for Renovables.  It was founded by two of Renewable World’s partners (Asofenix and blueEnergy) along with Benjamin Linder Rural Development Workers Association (ATDER-BL). The name intrigued me – and I’m glad I asked – a fascinating but tragic story. Ben was an an American engineer who was working on a small hydroelectric dam in rural northern Nicaragua when he was killed by anti-government Contra rebels. He was also a keen unicyclist, clown and juggler and used his skills to entertain local people and encourage them to particpate in vaccination campaigns.  All round good guy by the sound of it. He was killed before the hydro project he felt so passionately about was completed.  Just tracked down a book about his life – I’ve ordered myself a copy.  If its any good I might post a review on our facebook page

Anyway – back to Renovables.  Despite being less than a year old, the association now has 26 organisational members members and is putting together its strategic plans for the next 3-5 years.  They have 3 main aims: Bringing the renewables industry of Nicaragua together and giving it a united voice; advocacy and polotical lobbying to improve the politcal environment for renewable energy in Nicaragua; and contributing to rural electrification. 

There’s a lot of potential for renewables here. Nicaragua has great natural energy resources – if they can be harnessed.  Hydro, wind, geothermal and biomass (sugarcane bagasse – the waste product of making sugar) are all in abundance. Many people in the UK think that a downside of renewable energy is that its not as reliable as the grid.  Well in many poor countries, the grid supply is so unreliable that communities appreciate the control that having their own, reliable, affordable energy from renewables gives them. Renovables is well placed to build awareness and understanding of the benefits of renewables in this country – and it clearly makes a lot of sense for Renewable World to work closely with them.  

Oh yes – and that Carnival Queen.  Its now after 11pm, and I’d really love to go to bed. In fact I’ve been flagging for the past two hours. But there’s just no point.  Right outside my window, the contest for Nicaragua’s 2011 Carnival Queen is in full flow. There’s a brass band, whistles, rattles and lots of cheering. Its like Big Brother or the X factor down there. But the judges are casting their votes so lets hope its nearly over.   

One of the contestants struts their stuff.