Written by Caroline Kirkendoll
The first Saturday in November marked the inaugural outing for our freshly restarted women’s group, now known as Mujeres Activas del Potrero (Active Women of Potrero). After an early morning departure from Potrero we made the 2 hour drive south into the mountains to a town called Hojancha. Hoja Ancha literally translates into “wide leaf” and was named by the locals after a tree with large leaves that is found throughout the area.
Hojancha is known throughout Costa Rica for its incredible biodiversity, so it was fitting that this feria forestal (forest fair) took place in an area well-practiced in the art of forest sustainability and Eco-conservation. Six Potrero women and their eight children accompanied the Abriendo Mentes volunteers as we went about exploring the rows of booths inside sun-shaded tents. Although we visited on the last day of a 3-day festival there was still lots to be seen!
We were instantly mesmerized by an eye-popping display of dozens of butterfly specimens and a fish tank full of live koi. Each booth had representatives ready to pass out information and we walked away with lots of brochures, and a desire to make a trip back to the area to explore the underground caves of Barra Honda!
What was particularly encouraging to us was the number of booths manne d by single women selling everything from rosaries made from tree seeds to jewelry made from painted glass. We learned that Hojancha also has a women’s group, called Hojarte – get it?! – and they sell all kinds of handmade items, such as bags and jewelry, made from recycled goods. It was very inspirational to see how successful they are!
After a morning exploring we loaded everyone up and set off back to Potrero, full of ideas and inspiration for our mujeres activas! We are very excited to continue expanding the horizons of our local women, and hopefully sometime soon we’ll have our own booth at a local feria! Many thanks to Andres of Bahia del Sol for organizing transportation and making this trip