Wednesday, March 15, 2006

The day I planted maize and beans!

Just woke up from a nap. We had thought about going for another hike into the forest, but our little "let's lie down and digest lunch" idea turned into an hour-and-a-half nap. We've come to stay with Alfonso and his family at an incredibly opportune time. They started planting the grandmother's field today, so there's been a lot going on and a lot of special food being eaten. Today's lunch was caxic - spicy chicken soup - and tamale-like bread. Sounds like we're having both chicken and beef tonight, very special.

Got to help with the planting this morning.

I got a big pole with a pointed end and a pocket full of maize and bean seeds. About 10 of us worked side by side, each making our own row. I had a man helping me keep my row straight, pointing out where to make each subsequent hole. It was appreciated, as it's much harder than it looks to plant a straight line when the field rises and falls and is cut by stream beds and fallen trees. I planted most of 2 rows before I got blistered and a little bored, so I took photos and helped Scott instead. He made a hole with his pole, and I dropped in 3 maize and 1 bean seed and covered them up.

After a hot chocolate break, Alfonso took Scott and I on a little hike up through some fields and into the forest behind his house. Afterwards, we sat on a hillside overlooking a handful of houses, the school and the church and learned more about planting - how they let fields rest for between 1 and 30 years, where they grow firewood, interesting stuff. I'm learning a ton. Alfonso asked about farms in the States, and we told him how all the fields are perfectly flat and the roads are perfectly straight - such a huge contrast from here.

I keep thinking about how incredible it is to be here. We saw farms like this from he bus window, and I had to idea what it was like to live on one. To suddenly be inside, to watch them cook and clean and plant and hang out together is such an opportunity. I'm glad the men know Spanish and that Scott can talk to them, but I wish I could communicate as well. The women and kids only speak Ke'chi, the Mayan language.

Last night they covered the ground of the non-kitchen room with pine needles, so after the big family dinner, everyone wrapped up in blankets and lay down on the ground to sleep. A heck of a sleepover! I think they all stayed because dinner was late and they wanted to start planting early-ish in the morning and they live a ways away from here. Or maybe it's just an excuse for a party.

Sorry for such a disorganized post!

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