One week left in El Salvador. I decided it was time to get out of my hammock at 5:27am this morning. I had been drifting in and out of sleep since about 4:00am when the gallos (roosters) bgan to grace the world wither their ear-piercing songs. The sun rose at 4:45, so the light was not strong yet and the mountain was covered in a misty fog. After visiting the latrince and putting my contacts in, I decided to get an early start on my laundry. It had piled up after a few rainy days and our trip to the city . There are no driers here and because of the sun’s absence, we didn’t want to get stuck traveling with a heap of wet clothes. I took my pile to the pila out in the back of the cement house. The pila is basically a kitchen sink that stores water in the middle and has a counter on either side to wash clothes on. I spent an hour using a bucket of water and some elbow grease to wash several pieces of clothing.Mary Alice joined me half way through with the same idea in her mind. I prayed that there would actually be enough sun to dry my laundry before we travel to the next community tomorrow.
Breakfast was at 7:00am. We had quaker oatmeal and fried plantains. They usually would eat beans, tortillas, and plantains for breakfast, but our host mother learned that we American girls love our oatmeal.
At eight, we were ready to go to work in the garden we helped to start a little more than three weeks ago. We cleared the land and dug many beds using pickaxes, shovels, and a method called double dig. When we arrived, the garden was already filled with activity. The people in the community take turns working with us in the mornings. Today’s team was weeding with machetes and working on cutting down some small trees that were making too much shade for the vegetables to grow. We helped to weed around the pipian (squash) jamaica (hibiscus) and cilantro. We mounded up dirt around the cucumbers and radish and two boys went on the path to cut large branches to create a trellis for the cukes. We dug two more beds to transplant chile, lettuce, and cabbage that we had started in nursery beds. David instructed us on how to make a foliar from the leaves of Madre Cacao and water. He says the chemicals that are found naturally in these leaves are the same as what one would find in commercial foliars. This foliar was mixes with a pesticide we cooked a week before from garlic, onion, jalapeno, and ginger. This pesticide doesn’t really kill. It just deters animals by the taste and smell.
The transformation this garden has gone through is amazing. And this is only one of three.
We went back to Emelias to eat lunch. I have been making bracelets from thread intermittently throughout the trip and just figured out how to make a zigzag design. In the middle of teaching Emelia, our host, how to make the bracelets, it began to rain. ”La ropa (the clothes)!!” We all shouted. ”La carrera (the race)!” laughed Emelia’s husband as all the women ran to collect the clothes from the lines before they got soaked.
After a little more chatting and sitting on Emelia’s porch, they left to go to an organizing meeting for hosting their sister community who was going to visit on Friday, the day after we leave.
The rest of the afternoon, we did Taebo and showered at the pila. (So here, they shower outside in the open. When I was showing them pictures of the snowy Cornell campus, their first question was ‘How do you bathe?’ I had to explain that we cook and bathe inside).
At 4:30, the people we had been working with in the garden all came to reflect and share thanks with us. They are all so sweet. I’m glad we had the change to support their efforts to gain solidarity and nutritional benefits. When the garden has grown, they will save seeds for next rainy season because they don’t have enough money to buy enough seeds otherwise. Hopefully they will have enough to help people start their own personal gardens as well. FUNDAHMER promises to send us pictures of the harvests when they are ready!
Then we ate our last dinner with Emelia and family. They made us a special pineapple/corn drink called atole. Delicioso!! They have so many uses for corn here- tortillas, corn coffee, corn chocolate, corn alcohol, corn hot drinks. The vast majority of families only grow enough corn and beans for themselves to survive and enough grain to feed their animals. If their harvest doesn’t last them through the dry season, they are in trouble and hope they have enough money to buy their food.
We spent our last night sitting on Emelia’s porch chatting and watching the day fade into night. Unfortunately, a big thunderstorm came, so we won’t be able to swim tomorrow in the Rio Torola because it will be dirty and strong from the runoff.
But now I’m laying in my hammock praising God for the successful and safe trip we have had so far and the opportunity to help the community start this adventure it is 8:10, I’ll probably be asleep by 8:30, after i draw a new sketch of the garden.