JOIN OUR 2017 BRIGADE: February 4-18, 2017
For our February 2017 Brigade, we will be combining a traditional brigade (where we travel from pueblo to pueblo visiting potters) and a work brigade (where we concentrate on a project at one pottery) into a single two-week adventure. We will spend 6 days in the community of Ducuale where we will rebuild the kiln shed that collapsed in a heavy rainstorm. The kiln shed roof is currently propped up with sticks so this repair work is urgent. The rest of the time we explore ceramics in various Nicaraguan pottery collectives. All tools will be provided, and no special experience is required. Our tentative itinerary is as follows:
- Feb 4 Arrival/travel day
- Feb 5 Orientation
- Feb 6 Visit a filter factory (a great place to learn about our Water Filter Program)
- Feb 7-12 Rebuild the kiln shed at Ducuale and learn about their unique way of decorating their pottery
- Feb 13-17 visit pottery collectives around the country
- Feb 18 Departure day
For more details, read the information below.
In January or February of each year, Potters for Peace offers a two-week guided trip (a brigade) to sites where we are working in Central America. The brigade travels by van throughout Nicaragua and sometimes into neighboring countries.
We spend time in several rural pottery communities, visit the renowned Nicaraguan pottery center of San Juan de Oriente and spend a day at a water filter factory. The Nicaraguan countryside, where most brigade time is spent, is drop-dead beautiful, and the weather is warm but not too humid in January and February.
After Paul Soldner took part in a brigade in the early 1990s, he reported that as much could be learned about pottery in those two weeks as in a four-year university program.
Our brigades are not your average package tour. We visit the remote communities where the needs are the greatest, where Potters for Peace has for over twenty years accompanied traditional women potters in their daily struggles. We will work alongside them, hear their stories, share their meals, and sometimes even sleep in their homes. For even the most experienced travelers, it is a rare opportunity share a rural Nicaraguan’s daily life. For inexperienced travelers, it can be a life-changing awakening to the daily realities of the poor, who comprise over 90% of the world’s population. Needless to say, gourmet food and idyllic accommodations do not exist here.
Although some interactions, such as kiln building, will be structured, many of our visits will be devoted to spontaneous interactive clay work with the artisans. The quality of your experience will depend upon your own enthusiasm. Come prepared not only to SEE, but to DO, and to get your hands DIRTY with clay. Expect not only to TEACH, but to LEARN. Bring your hiking boots, because we will be leaving the paved paths, fording rivers, and climbing mountains. Translation is provided for non-Spanish speakers, but you will be surprised at how our common language of clay quickly breaks down barriers. Sidesaddle kickwheels and local materials will test the skills of everyone.
PFP brigades are an integral part of our program and benefit the local potters at least as much as the traveling gringos. We always include a Nicaraguan potter as travel companion, giving her an opportunity to see the country outside of her pueblo, to get inspired by the work of others, and to develop lasting friendships with other Nicaraguan artisans as well as the brigadistas on the bus. It is always rewarding to see the creative growth spurt that inevitably accompanies this opportunity.
Food and Lodging
One will not suffer on a PFP brigade: we use the best lodging available among the limited local options, and food is usually the same daily fare as most Nicaraguans—beans, rice and various additions. There is no chance a PFP brigade will come under fire as one did in the late 1980s, but be forewarned—the brigade is not about creature comforts, it is about connecting with real people in their real lives. Do not expect to enjoy excellent food or luxury accommodations, because our purpose is to briefly share the daily realities of life in the developing world, where our brother and sister potters survive, smile, and somehow remain creative.
Vegetarian or vegan travelers will survive the brigade, but please bear in mind that dietary options can be severely limited in rural Central America. You can always get by on beans and rice until the next meal.
Cost for the brigade is $1800 (USD) which covers all your in-country expenses (transportation, lodging meals and drinking water), and includes a fund-raising portion that supports our work. Not included are snacks, alcoholic beverages, and souvenirs.
Round-trip travel to Managua is not included but the brigade leaders will pick you up at the airport when you arrive and drop you off at the airport when you depart.
2017 Brigade dates will be from 4-18 February, 2017.
We hope that you will consider traveling with Potters for Peace, and we look forward to hearing from you.
Contact our Nicaragua Director, Robert Pillers (firstname.lastname@example.org) for further information.
In addition to our yearly brigade, we run brigades for students or other interested groups. The structure of all our brigades is similar but we can add locations or activities that are of specific interest to these groups.
Here’s a video of a student brigade that took place in spring 2011:
If you are interested in active involvement with PFP, we urge you to begin with the brigade experience. This is the best way to see how and where we work. Please explore our orientation packet to see if this brigade is right for you.
Contact Robert Pillers (email@example.com) for further information.