Finally Moved! (And Other Stories...)
A Ghostly Morning Outside Our House
*Note: The house IS looking a bit white trash. We still have to paint, plant grass around the house, bring in the laundry, and deconstrtuct Chris´wood working bench in front. Add the hammock and a few chairs out front and it will look much better! Don´t be afraid.
We moved a week ago, halleluiah!!! It´s already been one long, nice week of tranquility, no chickens, no neighbors, and beautiful vistas. Thank you to our wonderful neighbor, Karai Taito, for hauling our table, fridge, stove, bookshelf and other crap up the hill in his ox-drawn cart. So glad we have friends in the community!! Chris and I are working on the house little by little every day. We started cleaning up the space for our garden yesterday, and we are going to buy seeds today. Oh happiness!! Little time until we have a veritable cornucopia of fresh vegetables and herbs. This is what we have been slaving away for...a little slice of campo heaven. And that is not all, my friends. Our work is starting to get underway very nicely. For those of you who have not heard, Chris and I are helping to establish a committee of farmers in the neighboring community of Yataity. There are about a dozen of the more hardworking farmers in this committee, and our first project is to start growing vegatables in a donated hectare of land which belongs to the president of the group. Our goal is to grow tomatoes, lettuce, cabbage, carrots, bell peppers, and beets to sell at a Saturday farmer´s market at the neighboring pueblo of Yhu, about 7 k. away. This does not sound astonishing in and of itself, but the clincher is that we are running this group to do everything organically, without benefit of chemicals, and also trying to get the members to employ soil conserving techniques and in effect better the soil AS they are using it, rather than stripping it bare. If this is a success, we can start looking for other markets, such as Asuncion or Caaguazu, and increase production. The members are also interested in finding alternatives to cotton growing such as growing sesame or sugar cane for biofuel. Gracias a Dios!! We are aiding them in getting them information and bringing people with experience to give lectures on these topics. We are also starting to plan our work at the school in San Miguel. We will be doing the school garden and a vivero with the students, teachers, and hopefully the parents. We have been giving charlas (little lectures) on building compost piles and making organic pesticides. At our house we are also busy planning our own demonstration plot to show the community. We have more or less a hectare of land to work with, and we want to use just about everything we´ve learned to show how to manage the land better. We are going to use erosion-control techniques (curvas de nivel), grow abonos verdes, and use agroforestry systems to show the people a more efficient use of their land. The problems in the community are that people think that they have too little land if it´s less then say, around 5 hectares. They also think they we don´t know anything because we were not farmers in our former lives, we are young, we are american, we don´t yet speak fluent Guarani, and we haven´t SHOWN them anything yet. We can talk all we want, but until we have something to show, it´s hard to have buy-in from the locals. On top of all this, our new American fellow-volunteers are nice and we especially enjoy Roberto´s company. He is laid-back, funny, and very very nice. I am especially looking forward to doing some cross-sector health work with him, like reproductive health workshops and building latrines and such.
It´s so exciting and refreshing to feel like you are starting to finally emabark on what it is we came here for in the first place: which was to help people.
On that note, we had an even quicker high last weekend when we went to the Mana concert in Asuncion. We had bought tickets, but apparently didn´t need them after all. I think there were in the neigborhood of about 60 to 70 thousand people who came to the biggest soccer stadium in all of Paraguay, El Estadio Defensores Del Chaco, and it was A M A Z I N G!! We showed up a tad late, not expecting them to start on time, as is usually customary for a show, especially of this size. The band had already started playing as we ran up to the entrance. There was chaos and cops in full riot gear all around the entry ways. I expected the worst, and in fact, the pòlice had to use rubber bullets on the crowd just before we showed up because the mob had torn down a gate. Chris and looked for the entry for people with ´grass´seats, but instead ended up pushing and shoving our way through a sea of people, while being pressed up against the shields of the police in riot gear, and being hurried through to the inside of the stadium. No one even took our tickets or bothered to see them. I think it was such a big turnout, that it would have been impossible to admit people in an organized fashion, and lots of people did not make it in. It was a rush, just getting through that and finally entering the stadium and seeing all the people there. The concert was amazing and I sat on Chris´ shoulders a lot of the time, which afforded me a spectacular view. It had been raining all day, but seemed to stop just for the duration of the concert. Many of our fellow volunteers also went and all agreed that it was an awesome night. The sad part was that about 6,000 fake tickets were sold to a sold-out show!
Okay, last thing. So once upon a time, we had a neighbor named Gordo, who started using our wood that we bought to build our house, to build his other house down another road in our community. Gordo probably thought that we would not even notice that our wood was missing because we had so much of it and that we have lots of money anyway, so we can just buy more, no problem (NOT the case). As luck would have it, Chris noticed our pretty redwood on his new house and confronted Gordo about it. Gordo just stared at the ground and thought that the problem would go away if he ignored it long enough. Being the reasonable human that Chris is, he offered for Gordo to return the wood, pay for it, or work it off so we wouldn´t have to involve anyone else in the matter and he could handle it like a man, pride in tact. No dice. Eventually, as a month passed by, Chris grew impatient and angry. Finally when confronted by the owner of the land and Chris together, Gordo fessed up and offered to pay for the wood, though he had no money at the time. Too late. The owner of the land told Gordo that he and his wife and two daughters had to move out ASAP becuase he violated his trust and does not want dishonest people living on his land and working for him. This story is all too sad because Gordo has a family and even though Gordo is indeed very poor, you should not steal from anyone. Even if your neighbors look like rich ´nortes´. The old neighbors have indeed moved, and hopefully we will have nice new ones who will not steal from us.
And hopefully the poison that was thrown down the neighbors well will not filter down to our artesian well, rendering our water undrinkable. I HOPE! But, that´s another story for another day. Just another day in the campo! Hee hee! In all seriousness, this type of behavior is not all that common, and campo life is more or less very ´tranquilo´.
Thanks for reading our blog.