Potters for Peace (PfP) 1

Potters For Peace (proposed logo)

Well, in case you were not aware of my latest adventure, I have joined the Nicaraguan Brigade of Potters For Peace. Anything to escape New York’s weather. This first email cannot be sent to my blog, due to the
connections down here and there is no spell check and a wacky keyboard. I’ll do my best, if you’ll bear with me…

Potters For Peace is an organization that unifies potters in developing countries around the production of ceramic water filters that are manufactured locally, following the guidelines of the organization.

Basically, potters with the experience in kiln building and working with clay, are taught how to open sustainable factories to produce inexpensive filters that clean 99.5% of pathogens in ground water. PFP or Potters Without Border (in Canada) do not provide money, only the technical knowhow and ceramic support in identifying with whom and where the filter factories are planned. More on all of that, once I actually experience it.

This Ceramic Filter Saves Thousands of Children's Lives. Each day.

My flight to Managua was uneventful. It could easily have gone the other way. In my luggage was a pound of Calcium Carbonate and a a handful of smaller packages of brightly colored chemicals used in ceramic glazes. The PFP asked me bring them some hard-to-obtain supplies. Their request
also came with a warning that Calcium Carbonate, when X-rayed, appears as a solid metallic lump. Exactly the same sort of image created by a pound of gunpowder….Well, the Kiln Gods must have been smiling from above because I was not strip-searched and my bags passed through.

Since I allowed an extra day for bad weather, I arrived ahead of the rest of my Brigade comrades. I knew I was in a new land when I was met by a Hilton Hotel van that sported a Che Guevara pendant from the radio antenna.

While in NY, obtaining vaccinations, I had the honor to be injected by one of the world leaders in tropical medicine, Dr. Cahill. He supports the concept of PFP and offered to put me in touch with Fr. Michael D’Escoto, a comrade of Daniel Ortega. Fr. Michael hold the current title of Foreign Minister. A few years ago, he was President of the UN General Assembly.

Directions to Fr. Michael’s house were vague… a km past a university, look for a yellow wall, then look for a green iron gate. Sure, enough we found it and I was warmly greeted by the octogenarian in his livingroom. The walls were covered with Rousseau-like paintings intermixed with family
pictures and other personal memorabilia. Every horizontal surface featured the most spectacular examples of Nicaraguan pottery that I had ever seen. More on that later…

Fr Michael

Fr Michael bears an uncanny resemblance to the actor who betrayed Michael Corleone in the Godfather  The one whose brother was brought from Italy to convince him not to sing…

Fr. Michael, served tea and talked about the UN for an hour. He explained that his new book would be
finished in a couple of weeks. In it, he has outlined his entire plan for restructuring and re-inventing the organization from top to bottom.

In our second hour, he explained the demise of the modern Catholic Church (which began in 1069, when the Pope insisted on being infallible). We discussed Israel, the famous “Stolen Jewish Child” case in Rome. and many other lofty subjects. I explained the concept of Tekun Olan (Repair of the World) Father was fascinated and requested that I send him more info.

We also discussed his favorite food in New York. When he was President of the United Nation General Assembly. Each week he would journey down to the lower east side to Russ & Daughters for their world-class Scottish Smoked Salmon about which he waxed poetically (and politically) in English and Spanish

I told him my old joke about the traditional meeting of the newly elected Pope and the Head Rabbi of Italy.  I think wrote it down.

Fr Michael loves dogs. He has a one year yellow lab that he picked out with a breeder that he met at Westminster.

Needless to say, we bonded.

From Fr. Michael's Collection

That night the Spanish Embassy presented a local theatre production of a new play. Of course I attended. Tickets were free but the “safe” cab cost 24 bucks roundtrip.

The Embassies sit in a pitch black part of town where the only lights are the pale blue fixtures that illuminate the guard boxes of each national property. Long shadows run along each high wall as the cars drive by. No signs No numbers. No identification . Or none that I could see, anyway

The play, Las Cruces, was performed by a local theatre company in an outdoor theatre. Wonderful acting. The  plot was intermingled stories of families and individuals who decide to migrate to the US. I spoke to the producers, Met the cast and a family of Save The Children NGO’s. They are huge in Nicaragua.

Okay. This morning I met my fellow Brigade members (brigadeers?). I am now very nervous. I heard the one question asked that strikes fear into the heart of all group travellers:

“do you think, after dinner tonight, I can play a guitar?”

Singing for Supper


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