Palo Solo’s 174 current residents make a subsistence living from small-scale agriculture and as tenants on larger farms. Most have small plots of pitahaya, coffee, beans, and cabbage, cash-crops sold at whatever price they can manage, that descend steeply into forested valleys and watersheds.
Historically, Palo Solo families have not had access to running drinking water or line electricity. A development initiative that brought together community leaders, the Lone Tree Institute, La Concepcion’s local government and mayor’s office, and the Embassy of Japan was successful in connecting Palo Solo to both services in 2005. Unfortunately, without clear causes, the situation has again deteriorated, and today 26 families spend a quarter of their income in buying clean water hauled out to Palo Solo in barrels from La Concepcion.
Acidic gases from the nearby Masaya Volcano continually blow in the direction of Palo Solo and across its farmland, limiting the number and productivity of its crops. The community has also historically had a high incidence of respiratory health problems, particularly among children.
Palo Solo’s public schoolhouse Escuela “Nohemi del Socorro Hernandez” uses three rooms and two to three teachers for pre-school (newly added) and grades 1 - 6.
In 2006, the first high school students began walking or riding the five kilometers into La Concepcion, the nearest town. In 2013, three Palo Solo residents are enrolled in college or technical/vocational school.
Palo Solo by the Numbers. (Source: In January, 2013, Lone Tree Institute’s staff and a visiting undergraduate students conducted a comprehensive door-to-door survey of Palo Solo’s families.)