Day 18: Hackathon
Wednesday 23 November 2022

We were invited to a special event, this time not at Bitcoin Beach but in Concepción de Ataco, one of the characteristic municipalities of La Rutas de Las Flores: in the northwestern part of the country, in the midst of mountains and coffee plantations. A must-see village. This is the second time we are going back there this week: the first, for the graduation ceremony by the ‘Mi Primer Bitcoin’ association.

This second time, however, we will attend a hackathon organized by a group of young developers and popularizers who have decided to replicate here the circular economy experiment already tried in El Zonte, but which according to them has not been as successful as the newspapers or Twitter pages tell: Salvadorans have left the beach and moved elsewhere, not all businesses accept bitcoin, prices have skyrocketed, and locals don’t know the technology as well as they should. 

Their idea is to focus on the village school students and have them educate their parents, relatives, and all the village businesses. Step by step, organically, without branding the village and without inviting famous influencers (apart from us, of course!).

The hackaton consists of three days of pure in-depth learning about technology: starting with the history of currency and ending with bitcoin, the lightning network and lots and lots of practice.

They opened a Geyser Fund profile dedicated to the school and collected bitcoin donations from all over the world. They let the kids choose how to spend the money they received and, unanimously, they chose to buy cleaning products for the house, school and village. Who knows what the students from the first world would have responded?

We spend a few days with them. All crammed into a small hostel, entirely booked for us. There are volunteers from all over the world. The atmosphere is incredibly nerdy. We are actually far from the somewhat tacky luxuries of Bitcoin Beach. From the embellished hotels and bitcoiner tourist trap restaurants. Here the approach is different. On an equal footing. You’re on the street, with street people. We like this attitude. We recognize it as much more akin to our own.
Any educational project that starts in El Salvador is a godsend and we will support it without hesitation. What this country needs is an “army of teachers,” the ones Bukele promised at a press conference while introducing the Bitcoin law to the world, but then never existed. It is hard to say whether what is lacking is the necessary funds or the political will. It is probably a mix of both.
Seeing kids learn, marveling, has a special appeal. It is like waking up early in the morning to admire the first light of dawn of a new day.