Sunday, October 4, 2009
La Huerta y El Chanchito: Farmville Live!
La huerta y el conchito: Farmville Live!
Yes that’s right, after my summer months of planting and tilling and harvesting and collecting eggs on my electronic farm on facebook, I can say it all prepared me for… absolutely nothing to do with planting a garden. But I’ll get back to that.
Yesterday we went into Guarambare with the agroforestry group for some more information sessions which included reminding us that although we are here we are not volunteers yet, we still need to earn that spot. So while we already have applied and gotten in (kinda) we’re still on a three month long interview and job training process. So come December when we’re sworn in it will have been a year long application process! And of course, this being a government position, we had papers to sign. Then we watched a movie called “Living on the edge of Death” or something like that which was just as depressing as it sounds. Not about us living on the verge of dying! But about helping communities learn to help themselves as opposed to not teaching them and just giving them money. You know, the whole “give a man a fish and he eats for a day, teach a man to fish and he eats for a lifetime”.
After the other 2 groups showed up and we learned all about vegetable gardens (huertas). We learned how to transplant and why, where to put what in the garden for the best results, how to make organic compost and a fence out of bamboo with a machete and wire, and of course a practical lesson on making of the garden itself. Hoeing, turning the soil, making a raised bed, putting on the fertilizer (compost) and transplanting some little onions and lettuce plants. Good information but I felt like a lot of people knew a lot more about growing plants and organic gardens and soil..and they did, because all I know about was the tomatoes my mom and I tried to grow which just got really big and turned green and fell off (although looking back we could have had fried green tomatoes). On a side note they made us a spread of all sortsa fresh veggies and dip to eat, we descended on the table like Paraguayan children at a candy store. Eating raw veggies here is a big deal, something you don’t get a lot since healthy food here consists of white bread on sugar on white bread on meat and mandioka. It was a fiberus surprise we all needed!
Walked home, watched the news and the lottery like we do every night. The lotto here is a bit different and I’m not sure exactly how it works but the host fam seems to win something like every night. Last night was $3 tonight was $20! After a whole buncha things happened at once. Well two things. First a moto semi crashed, more like fell over in front of the house. The one kid got up and got the moto up and the other wasn’t really moving so my host mom went down there and then he got up, he had just cut his leg. Then this boy showed up holding a screaming piglet about a month old. I’m not sure who the boy was hmom started to tie a rope around its neck and middle like a harness and I thought the boy just need a rope and was showing us his piglet, but then he walked away and left the piglet with us. But he was sooooooooo cute and little. Also terrified out of his mind, deff taken away from his mom way to young but, I could go into a whole entry about how they treat animals here which I won’t do right now. Uh. Anyway after we gave him food for him to step in and he stopped squealing I asked “Por Que tenemos este conchito?” (Why do we have this piglet?) and apparently it was a regalo (gift) and then I asked the question I already knew the answer too : What are we going to do with it *wince*. “We will kill it in four months and eat it”. Of course this I knew. But he’s sooo cute! Can’t get attached! Just like the fuzzy little chicks that hatched last week! Our yard is overflowing with cuteness I can’t even handle it. and more chicks are going to hatch in a couple days!
So today was our half day tech session in which we started our own huerta! We had to finish building a fence, hoe out all the grass, turn over the soil with shovels to aerate it, rake it down, make raised beds and plant the veggies. No standing next to a plot of land and it’s all of a sudden a plot to sew (Farmville). NO! this was 3 hours of hard labor with the hot hot hot sun on our backs and Terere by our side. So much work to get some lettuce, I now have a new appreciation for those little veggies we all eat.
The other night when we were walking our friendly neighborhood farmer invited us into his garden to see his vegetables. He had rows of goodies and he gave us some lettuce and squash to take home. He was just a random guy who said hi to us on the road who wanted to share his garden with us. He was very excited about it. He also showed us his pig he was going to slaughter for new years and invited us into his house for a piece of something that was a pig skin roll with fat. It made my stomach turn just to look at it but he was so happy to give it to us and 4 slices off so we could try it. Omg. We all didn’t know what to do. First off more than half the people in EE are/were vegetarians or ate little meat, which is funny (but not really) because we’re all here in a country who loooooves their meat and thinks you’re absolutely crazy if you don’t. So we all took our slices in a napkin and said we would try it later (by that we meant we’d give it to one of the street dogs). Then he gave us a piece of sopa Paraguay, the countries national dish, which I already knew I didn’t like. I took a bite (it’s kinda like corn bread) and chewed for awhile until I knew I could muscle it down without gagging. After we said our thanks and left I gave my pig skin roll to Mangey, our favorite street dog who we named for his mange, who was very happy to have it.
On another side note, I was sitting outside tonight with the h sis and h dad talking about the environment and the US and Paraguay and Mayans and toads when I realized we were having an actual fast paced conversation without me stopping to think about what words I need to use. Grant it I’m sure my grammar was scary but it’s all about the small steps!
here are some pics: the first one is our Pingy the cat