By Victoria Kabak, KF9, Nicaragua

Since arriving in Nicaragua for my Kiva Fellowship about two months ago, my time here has been marked by a range of new experiences. I have become surprisingly adept at pouring juice from a plastic bag into a glass. I am intimately familiar with the smell of burning garbage, the most common way trash is disposed of here in Managua. I have perfected (and passed on) the art of wagging my finger to tell a taxi driver that I don’t want to get in when he already has another passenger. And for the first time, I’ve gotten to see how some foods that I consume on a daily basis grow.

AFODENIC, the microfinance institution where I’m working as a Kiva Fellow, has a branch office in Ticuantepe, a municipality in the department of Managua, about 20 or 30 minutes outside of the city. There, AFODENIC makes loans to borrowers who work in agriculture. One loan officer works in Ticuantepe, and he is uniquely qualified to work with these particular clients, since he studied agricultural engineering. Just from spending one morning with him, I could tell that his role extends beyond the typical function of a loan officer, as he provided off-the-cuff advice to the borrowers I was meeting for journal updates.

As I mentioned, my experience in Ticuantepe was also interesting because I got to see many crops I’d never seen before: rice, beans, pineapple, pitahaya, plantains, and coffee beans. Some of these crops were definitely not what I expected – I had no idea that pineapples just sort of spring out of plants in the ground that hardly look as though they can support the weight of one pineapple, let alone many – so I thought I’d share my pictures of these crops with you. If you’ve never seen them before either, I hope you enjoy checking out what these foods look like at the beginning, long before they reach your supermarket or your plate. Click “more” to see the photos!

Pineapple grows in the field of one of AFODENIC's borrowers. Earlier in the day, I got to taste some pineapple picked fresh out of another client's fields.

Coincidentally just a few days before seeing this plant, I had separately learned for the first time that this is how coffee beans look when they're growing.

At the risk of sounding ignorant, I had no idea this was how rice grew! (I guess I'd never really thought about it though...to my defense, I've always lived in the city.) When I touched them, those little grains felt exactly like uncooked rice does.

Platanos growing on a tree, right by a field of pineapple plants and a group of coffee bean trees.

This prickly plant is where pitahayas grow--you can see an almost-pink pitahaya fruit toward the upper lefthand part of the fruit. The prickliness of the plant makes it especially hard to cultivate pitahaya, a fruit that has also been a new experience for me in Nicaragua. The flesh is bright purple and very sweet.

Unfortunately it turns out I didn’t take a picture of beans growing, but maybe I’ll get a chance next time I’m in Ticuantepe.

Victoria Kabak is a Kiva Fellow at AFODENIC in Managua, Nicaragua. Check out AFODENIC’s currently fundraising loans on Kiva, or purchase a Kiva gift certificate as the holiday season approaches!

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