The absolute highlight for us was going to Granada to the Cafe de las Sonrisas. We had read an article about this last spring and knew we had to get there !
This cafe has sign language on the walls, pictures and words for the menu, and "buttons" on the table so people who do not know sign language can interact with the server. Yes, all employees are deaf ! The coffee was amazing and the food was delicious. More important, was the smiles.
We had the opportunity to visit with the owner, Tio Antonio who is from Spain. Five years ago he began employing individuals who were deaf, blind or from extremely impoverished families. Their job? Weaving hammocks. He wanted to provide job opportunities for those who would otherwise have none. The hammocks are beautiful, soft and hand-made. We got to lay in several of them while visiting with the workers. Tio used the profits to start the cafe-- the first in the Americas.
Jonathan and I have talked before about the potential of something similar in Omaha. Neither of us have the skill set to do it, but we do know a deaf man (my former student) who has had training in culinary arts. But-- to see it in the second poorest country in the western hemisphere was what we needed to maybe start the talks and brainstorming again.
I'm excited to go back to pick up Jonathan's hammock and Maia's hammock chair. Jonathan actually got to "try" and weave a row of his own hammock. The deaf man working on it made it look as easy as breathing. Jonathan was smiling the whole time he was struggling!! :-)