LibreBus: Granada, Nicaragua to Tegucigalpa, Honduras

GPS running with Fedora. See the little Librebus?

Granada

The next day on our Librebus tour, we left Managua for Granada, a lake-side town about an hour away. We rolled in to the Antigua Casa de Los Leones, a gorgeous colonial house in the center of the city.

To an intimate crowd of 20, the Librenautas shared projects from Ubuntu, Python, and Gapminder, while a rep from the Service for Mesoamerican Information on Sustainable Agriculture (SIMAS) discussed the office’s intentions to release datasets to the public.

I showcased WebMadeMovies, and in talking with William, the Librebus’ gear-out filmmaker, we’re exploring how to release a video about the Librebus using popcorn. In the adjacent room, an announcer’s voice trickled in from Radio Volcán’s, fielding song requests with his studio door ajar. Artists nearby painted and fanned themselves in wicker rocker chairs…at the same time.

After a tasty lunch of Granada pizza (indiscernible from more general forms of pizza), we ventured out to Lake Nicaragua, a lake so large the moon pulls a regular solid tide. The country boasts many lakes and lagoons, fresh water escapes from the tropical heat.

In the public square outside the Antigua Casa, we screened Good Copy Bad Copy to a crowd gathered on plastic stools, blankets, and bikes. Young and old were drawn to the film, and a local commented that it’s rare for the host institution to dissolve its traditional walls and bring in the public, so they appreciated the outdoor activity.

The Casa’s closed reputation seems to be in stark contrast to the Centros Cultural de España that open their doors to us in other cities. The centers have media labs, libraries, galleries, screenings, and workshops constantly on offer, and in areas that face a real digital divide, these centers are like public sanctuaries of connectivity and culture. Renata explained that most governments in Central America don’t invest much in such activities and infrastructure, and so the gap is filled by cultural centers funded from the west. Perhaps this exercise of soft power is genuinely win-win.

After a pile BBQ plantains and Tona beers, we crashed at the spacious and tasteful Posada del Sol, a highly recommended hotel in Granada.

Tegucigalpa

At daybreak we climbed back into the Librebus and hit the road to Tegucigalpa, Honduras. Several hours of winding mountain roads and sunny farmland, we arrived in the city of one million.

Joining us for this leg was our Honduran host, Karla Lara, a human rights activist and feminist. She showed us the most amazing spots, the shining gem of which was Zulma, a bombastic joie de vie who cooked us three meals during our stay. At Zulma’s, we not only feasted but were treated to traditional music and live riffs on the Librebus’s now-theme song sung to the tune of La Bomba. Suffice it to say, if you ever find yourself in Tegucigalpa, look up Zulma.

At the Centro Cultural de España Tegucigalpa a group of community radio activists introduced us to their initiatives. Karla, their mentor, is one of the most prominent revolutionaries in her country, and one of her tactics includes raising political awareness through music. After the performance at Zulma’s, Karla decided to release her albums under a CC license.

The radio activists were keen to learn more about Hyperaudio, which I demoed during the workshop. One feature request was speech-to-text to generate the transcript. The transcript is currently written by hand, but it certainly would be a huge boon if speech-to-text were well integrated and smart enough to execute a decent transcript within the platform. In any case, they were charmed by the visualizations, the integration of multimedia, and the ability to comment and link down to the very second in an audio file.

Wrapping up the evening in Tegucigalpa was a screening of ¡Copiad, malditos!: los caminos alternativos al ‘copyright’ by Stéphane M. Grueso. The film got a round of applause when Ignasi of CC Spain and Catalonia appeared on screen. I’d not heard of the film before, but I’d recommend it to folks as a complement to the Good Copy Bad Copy, RIP!, and Steal This Film series with its abundant examples of the Spanish-speaking world.

Tomorrow we’re off to San Salvador, El Salvador for a public data hackathon and hopefully our first MoJo meetup in Central America. Vamos!

(Sorry, posting these LibreBus stories about two weeks after the fact. Well, better late than never!. Photo credits to Librenauta Jorge.)

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