Wednesday, April 12, 2017

Ecuador-- Café con Azúcar, Resistencia y Fiesta

Buen día Amig@,

Le escribo de una Comunidad de Jesuitas en Cuenca, Ecuador. Aquí es muy cómodo, muy tranquilo, siento como en casa. Tengo el privilegio de tener un Padre Jesuita como amigo aquí, y arregló una habitación para mi por unos días. Estoy muy agradecida. Aquí hay un pequeño bosque que permite un poco reflexión, un bosquecito lleno de árboles de eucalipto y pasto y florecitas hermosas. Cuando el sol brilla y me siento en la tierra, en el pasto, al lado del laguito, entro en una trance. Allí no siento preocupación por nada, solamente siento el sol calentando lentamente, suavemente, mi piel. Aquí en Cuenca el clima es más fresco, es la Sierra. Me cuesta un poco la altura; estamos a unos 2500 metros, o 8200 pies, sobre el nivel del mar. Un poco más a lo que estoy acostumbrada. ;)  Afuera del centro de la ciudad está hermosa. Casas con terrenitos, todos con lo que parece que es su milpa, o tal vez solamente maíz. Y por supuesto, más montañas verdes, llenas de vida, y alturas dramáticas donde andan libremente las llamas. Ahora mismo escucho a música Colombiana, de una mujer María Cristina Plata... bien tranquila.

Bueno, quiero compartir un poco más de como ha sido el viaje. Este ha sido mi segunda vez en el país de Ecuador, y me he quedado bastante impresionada por toda la diversidad de climas, paisajes, culturas, y comidas que existe aquí. Empezamos en Quito, y yo pensando que ya conocía Quito, pero conocimos a un nuevo parque (El Metropolitano) en donde caminamos por horas, ni conociendo la mitad, y jugamos en los columpios de niños, divirtiéndonos mucho. Conocimos la ciudad más que nada a pie. Estuvo bonito. Y de allí andamos a Ambato (otra ciudad serrana más al sur) por los últimos días de las fiestas de Carnaval. Tuvimos la oportunidad de ir a un concierto gratuito de salsa, de Gilberto Santa Rosas, y allí disfrutaba ver a los muchachos bailando, gozando de la buena vida, las celebraciones. Ayayay, y la noche siguiente asistimos al gran desfile. Estuvo muy lindo. Tenían representados allí varios países en vestimento tradicional y no tan tradicional (mucho brillo, muchos colores), bailando y ¨reinas¨ paradas sobre los carros decorados con puro fruto y flores (este es la tradición de Ambato, que allí producen y exportan muchas flores y frutos [como los de Oregon]). Música, gente, energía. Y después nos divertimos al ver los niños jugar con las karaokas de espuma, y Kris me dice, ¨Vamos a comprar uno´. Yo, tímida, ¨que no...¨ pero lo hizo, y entramos en el juego con todos los niños, jóvenes, adultos; toditos jugamos. Corrimos por el muchedumbre, toda la gente, esprayando espuma en cualquiera persona, y ellos riéndose, y nosotras también. Estuvo genial. Sentía muy conectada a la fiesta, muy ´parte de´.

De allí Kris fue a hacer una caminata bastante difícil pero hermosa (según sus comentarios) por las montañas y terrenos de esa parte de la Sierra, y yo bajé a visitar a mis seres queridos en Santo Domingo. Las dos lo pasamos bien, y nos vimos en Quito para ir ya a la finca de café en el Valle de Intag.

Es un tipo de paraíso allí. La Señora tiene su casa con todos los comodidades, pero también ha construida una cabaña al aire libre con una cama con red de mosquito y hamacas, perfecto para dormir al lado del río poderoso que corre por el pueblo. Perfecto para descansar, practicar guitarra, y cantar que con el ruido de ese río nadie te escuche (pienso). Tiene sembrado bastante café, plátano, guineo, y yuca, así que siempre hay esos esenciales para comer. Ui, la comida. Ella nos preparaba diario desayuno de frutas tropicales con granola y yogur... super rico. Nos sentamos a la mesa por lo menos 4 veces al día, entre los descansos para tomar té o café y las comidas que nos invitaba. Una locura. Cocina como una abuelita-- hace pasteles y tortas, lemon merengue pie... es muy linda.

Conocerle fue muy interesante. Es pesada (en sentido de guerrera, fuerte mujer) esta mujer. Es grande ya, pero maneja todo allí en su terreno. Es de Canadá, y tiene 8 años viviendo en Ecuador. Aprendió a su edad el español para comunicar con la gente de esa comunidad, así como vive en un pueblo, en el campo bastante remoto. Tiene buenas relaciones con la gente; ayudó a construir un colegio allí para adultos, y también aporta a la gente en varios otros aspectos. Cría chanchos y enseña a la gente como cuidarlos, les da la oportunidad de criarlos, casi regala las frutas que se da en su terreno a la gente a que las venda. Personas pasan por su casa todo el día, todos los días, ella, contenta, las recibe. Tiene este proyecto por una fundación en los EEUU, y produce, más que nada, el café orgánico.

Pasamos dos semanas en su finca. Todos los días nos levantamos a darles de comer a los chanchos y limpiar sus habitaciones.  En las tardes nos tocaba hacerlo otra vez. Me encantó este ritual. Fue bonito servir a los animales así. Igual, sentí mal por como viven, con piso y paredes de concreto, y un techo, aislados de todo naturaleza, sin contacto con otra cosa viva aparte de nosotros cuando les visitamos dos veces al día. Es conveniente, funciona para criarlos, pero no es bonito. Alguien dijo recién: Lo que no es natural, no es natural. Ay, y lo peor-- que el momento en que les toca morir, es la primera vez que van a ver pasto, ver el cielo bien, tocar tierra con sus pies. Entran por algunos benditos momentos al cielo antes de ser matados. Y aparte están asustados porque alguien los esté sacando de su ambiente costumbre, y probablemente ni pueden apreciar la belleza que les rodee. Difícil. Y eso ni es hablar de los caballos o los perros. Ay.

Bueno, siguiendo, estuvo una muy buena experiencia allí en la finca. Conocimos a unos de los vecinos, muy amables, a unas niñas que les gusta bailar y reír, y a una persona que trabaja allí en la finca. Aprendí mucho de él. Creció en un pueblo aún más alejado de este pueblo, de forma que no conocía autos, ni electricidad, ni música grabada, ni comidas aparte de yuca, papa, fréjol, y maíz casi hasta que tenía 15 años. A ese edad su familia se fue a otro pueblo o él salió o el pueblo recibió acceso a la carretera... algo así. Y tiene como 12 hermanos, todos de la misma mamá. Y ahora trabaja toda la semana y muchas veces en el fin de semana en la caña de azúcar y con la Sra. en el café para apoyar a sus hijos y la mamá de ellos. Realidades tan distintas.

Lo que compartimos: el amor para el baile. A él le ENCANTA el Salsa Choke. Casi todas las tardes pondría su música y bailaría. Me enseñó unos pasos, estuvo chévere. Por lo que entiendo, es como la salsa pero fusionado con hip-hop y freestyle. Entonces bailo salsa y también me pongo a brincar o no sé que... bien divertido. Nos llevó a donde su amigo, y nos pusimos a bailar todos-- bachata, salsa, merengue, bomba (tipo cumbia de Ecuador), cumbias, salsa choke y free-style. Por horas. Una fiestita en el campo. 6 personas, un poco de trago, pura vida. Y luego le enseñé un poco de bachata, y lo agarró bien. Dar y recibir, ¿no?

Estoy muy agradecida por esa amistad que se hizo en pocos días. Ah! ¡Y nos llevó a conocer su trabajo en la caña! Después de tomar un bus (él lo camina) y subir una montaña, sudando, sin aire, por.. que? una hora casi? llegamos a la plantación, y nos presentó a sus compañeros del trabajo y nos dio un tour del lugar. Nos enseñó como se cosecha la caña con machete, como lo llevan en burro, como vuelven a sembrar la parte de arriba de la misma planta porque crece otra vez, se revive. De allí, a donde exprimen el jugo de la caña con una maquina parecida a un wood chipper, como lo hierven hasta que esté como un liquido espeso que echan a moldes y después se saca y embolsa. Hecho. Y estando allí, huele riquísimo, porque imagínate, están haciendo panela, calientita... uyy que rico. Chupamos el jugo de la caña, probamos el liquido caliente, y al final hirvieron los maduros en el mero jugo de la caña. Ayayay. Mucho azúcar. Kris en la tarde se cayó en siesta por tanto consumo de azúcar (sugar crash). Pero estuvo bacán conocer ese proceso, y aun más-- allí con nuestro amigo.

También en la finca, claro, trabajamos con el café, entonces igual conocimos el proceso de cosechar y procesar el grano. Es bastante trabajo a mano, todo por una bebida con esa aroma agradable, esa cafeína que nos anima, nos de energía, nos hace adictos.

En días de calor (y de frío a veces), bajamos al río a bañarnos. Que rico bañarse en un ser vivo con energía tan poderoso. También hay piscinas de agua mineral de un volcán cerca donde solíamos visitar... a 25 minutos caminando, 5-10 minutos si tuvimos el suerte de un aventón de un amigo de Fabian. Es que solo hay una carretera en ese pueblo, entonces si te ven caminando y tienen espacio, usualmente ofrecen llevarte. Aparte todos se conocen. Uy, y el agua en la piscina más caliente está bastante caliente... riquísimo para quemar todos los piquetes de mosquito (sufría mucho comezón).

Sí. Estoy muy agradecida por la oportunidad de conocer esa comunidad. Había momentos difíciles para las dos (Kris igual que yo), pero momentos tan lindos y un entender que ganamos de conocer el lugar y escuchar sus historias que pesa más que cualquier duda o problema.

Ah, y la parte social/climático. Minería, compañía extranjera, gobierno débil, corrupto, no para la gente. El pueblo se levanta. La compañía en buena onda hace un estudio de los efectos que habría con el proyecto-- significantes. Se van. Nueva compañía viene. El gobierno les invita. El pueblo se levanta. La compañía contratando a gente del pueblo para luchar contra sus vecinos. Gente aceptan la oferta porque necesitan dinero. Otros no aceptan por proteger sus recursos naturales de agua, por proteger su tierra. División. Unión. El pueblo se levanta. Convencen al gobierno. Parece que han ganado. Al final la compañía cambia su nombre, el gobierno vende el derecho de hacer minería a esa ´nueva´compañía, Contrata a gente. Les compra. La minería sigue. Contamina. Disrupta ritmos naturales. Aun los que resistía al principio van a trabajar por la mina por la tentación del dinero. El pueblo sigue luchando, pretenden educar, informar a la gente. Que loco.

Allí lo voy a dejar. Perdón que el último párrafo fue sin fluidez, me cansé. Todavía falta mucho por compartir-- desde que salimos de la finca en el Valle de Intag, hemos conocido a más gente linda, y la costa (HERMOSA). Kris ya está en Perú, mañana voy a bajar también.


ReEnCuEnTrOs Y CoMiDa MeXiCaNa =D

 ¡Saludos! 

 Quiero compartir una nota de la experiencia que viví al visitar un buen amigo en su pueblo de origen. Conocí a Salvio y su esposa Victoria en Skagit Valley, WA, hace 5 años cuando fui un intern con Tierra Nueva. Salvio, como muchos de su pueblo, salió muy joven de su casa, buscando trabajo y otra vida en los EEUU. Su pueblo sufría pobreza-- no había como progresar, como apoyar a una familia, entonces fue a California y trabajó en el campo, en las cosechas. Se casó con su esposa, también de Noltepec, y se vinieron los dos a vivir en los EEUU. Los dos trabajaban en el campo, en California, Oregon, y Washington, criando sus dos hijos, hasta encontrarse con Tierra Nueva. Allí consiguieron trabajo en el Centro de Apoyo Familiar y en acompañar a otros migrantes a citas, etc., a traducir de su lengua natal (el mixteco) al español/inglés, y más. 

 Bueno. Estos datos ya sabía por la amistad con Salvio. Lo que no sabía era que muchos de su pueblo habían hecho lo mismo. Fue aparente cuando caminamos por su pueblo y nos enseñaba casas abandonadas, contando historias de tal primo, tal fulano, que dejó su casa y está en los EEUU trabajando. Aún más evidente cuando conocimos a sus compañeros en el pueblo y nos hablan en inglés o nos cuentan que antes vivían en Hillsboro, Beaverton, Forest Grove, North Plains. También conversamos con el papá de Salvio, y nos contó que él fue a los EEUU varios veces a trabajar como brasero durante esa epoca. Increíble. Y nos contaron que ese pueblo fue construido, la carretera hecha, solo por el dinero que fue (y sigue siendo) mandado por familiares en los EEUU. 

 Ese es la parte socio-economico. Tal vez no muy bien escrito, pero creo que entenderás con que quiero decir. 

 Y para explicar la situación de Salvio: ahora se encuentra en su pueblo otra vez porque fue llamado a hacer su servicio al pueblo. Entonces está allí por un año sirviendo. Su familia se quedó en WA. Los extraña mucho. No es fácil regresar a su pueblo, cuando uno se acostumbra a la vida en los EEUU, y no por los lujos que uno no tenga sino por la comunidad-- que salió de adolescente de su pueblo y solamente a regresado a visitar durante estos 35 años, y claro, ha cambiado mucho como persona y la gente allí esperando a que sea igual. Y no es, ni va a ser. Pero cumplirá su servicio igual. 

 También les comparto que es hermoso el pueblo. En la montaña (pero no muy alta), con mucha naturaleza, calles de tierra (y unas de piedra o cemento), gallinas, guajolotes, vacas, burros en las casas. Calientita en el día con el sol, frío en las noches pero un cielo llena de estrellas y aire tan fresco y puro que te sientes bastante nutrida solamente con respirar. Ah, y la gente TAN AMABLE, y sinceramente amable. Caminamos a cualquier lugar con Salvio y él va saludando a todos, la mayoría por nombre, en mixteco y español, diciéndoles que tiene unas amigas de visita, y nosotras allí sonriendo, y las personas sonriendo, diciendo ¨bienvenidos¨ o algo a ese efecto. Nunca sentí nada de insinceridad, nada de mala onda, nada nada. Y conocimos a sus papás de Salvio-- su mamá habla y entiende mixteco, entonces aprendimos decir ¨gracias¨ porque siempre nos daba de comer. Ay, Dios. Sus tortillas. Gigantes y de harina de trigo... que fueron las tortillas más ricas que comimos. Mm. Bueno, Muy linda su mamá, Y su papá también amable, comía con nosotras, hablaba con nosotras. Y nos llevó donde su cuñada, que es muy divertida, muy linda, y conversaba con nosotras por horas de su vida y todo lo demás. Un día nos invitó a desayunar, y fue increíble, tan rico, tan fresco. Nos preparó atole de maíz, y un plato de frijoles, huevos, aguacate, jitomate, lechuga y cilantro, y tortillas gigantes de maíz. Todito salió de su huerto, de sus propios cultivos. Nos pidió una disculpa diciendo, ¨No sé si sea a su agrada, así comemos en el campo¨. Y nosotras, ¨Es la mejor comida que hemos comido, no inventes¨. 

 Bueno. Le cuento que lo pasamos de maravilla visitando a Salvio, y fue una despedida menos triste que los demás, porque sé que le voy a ver pronto en WA.

 También debo de agregar, que en los últimos días en México, intentamos hacer realidad varios sueños. 1: tomar jugos (otra vez). 2: comer tlacoyos o esquites o cualquiera de las delicias de la calle mexicana. 3: comer churros. Son metas serias. Entonces los jugos, facilito encontramos si recuerdo bien. El tlacoyo sueño realizó, pero en forma de un huarache. Los churros, dejame contarte. 

 Mira, en muchos lugares en México, por la ciudad, venden churros. Pero solamente hay UN PUESTO que los hace bien (o mejor dicho, a mi gusto). Los que encuentras en cualquier lado no suelen ser frescos, y son de ese tipo flaquito sin relleno, o con relleno pero solamente de chocolate o cajeta o fresa, y como dije, flaquitos. Luego te cuento como son los del Churrazo. 

 La Jornada: 
Al ver toda la gente en el metro que ibamos a tomar, y al querer ser buena compañera para Kris y no forzarle a ir en la busqueda loca de churros, le dije que podríamos pasar los churros, que no más nos quedamos en el centro, por donde está el hostal y todo, y buscamos la última cena en México y disfrutamos la noche. Kris me dijo, ¨Hemos llegado hasta aquí. No vamos a ir sin buscar tu churro.¨ Jaja. Entonces nos metimos al metro con la mitad de la población de la Ciudad de México, por qué sé yo, 40 minutos,  y después encontramos al bus que nos llevaría a la calle bendita del ChurroMan, la misma calle donde vivía hace más de un año por varios meses. Mucha gente otra vez en el bus, pero ibamos tranquilas, con hambre, con todas las esperanzas a encontrar nuestra delicia. El churro que conocía bien, que me llevaba al cielo por su sabor dulce y a canela, a chocolate y el relleno de coco o mermelada de fresa, por el ritual sagrado que es, la celebración que es ver al ChurroMan prepararlo a mi gusto y regalarmelo, caliente y crujiente, y suave, y de disfrutarlo con mi querida amiga, que enseñarle lo más rico que he experimentado en México. ... Sí. Bueno. 

 Entonces viendo por la ventana, vi que llegamos a la calle, y Kris y yo bajamos. ¨Segura que es aquí?¨ me dice. Yo que sí, que conocía bien esta calle. Solamente había que encontrar el puesto. Llegamos a donde antes estaba. No estaba. Sin perder la fé, seguimos, viendo todos los locales, a ver a donde habrá mudado. Llegamos a una pastelería y preguntamos del puesto. Nos dirigió más abajo, que haya cambiado de lugar. Nosotras, animadas, bajamos al puesto, allí estaba! Habíamos llegado! No estaba el ChurroMan que conozco, pero había otros. Preguntamos por los churros y nos dicen, ¨Es que la maquina se descompuso hoy. No hay churros aquí, ni en ningún lado¨. 

...

¨¿Desean otra cosa?¨.  ...  No. 
¨Que pasen mañana, seguro estará arreglado¨.  -Hoy es nuestro último día en México. 

 Kris me mira. Yo, ¨No lo puedo creer¨. 

 Al final, salimos riendonos de la situacion, y aun más cuando subimos a la casa de mis seres queridos allí, Lety y Toño, Yared y Pedro, y Samy. Nos dijeron, ¨Viniste hasta acá solamente por un churro?¨ Y se ponen a reir en esta manera que me encanta. Les tengo mucho cariño. Lety nos invita la cena, ¨ya que no comieron churros, por lo menos van a cenar¨, y mientras, Yared llamando a los puestos de churros a ver si alguno queda abierto. Bueno, una anecdota pequeña, para reír más que nada, pero les comparto que lo pasamos genial en la casa de Lety y Toño, compartiendo de lo que vivimos en Oaxaca, de todo lo bello que experimentamos y conocimos, y el cariño dulce de Lety, mi otra mamá, mi amiga. Ay, y nos dio de comer su mole verde, bien rica, con tortillas de maíz (que me encantan). Y un jugo de limón con chia... :) ¡Que linda la Señora Lety! Y estuve muy contenta también que Kris y Lety se pudieron conocer. Dos personas que aprecio mucho. 

 Jaja, y el siguiente día, en la mañana, Kris me dice, ¨Tienes que venir a conocer una panadería que encontré¨. Ok, Kris. Entramos la panadería, huele riquísima (obvio). Kris agarra la bandeja y las pinzas, y yo observo las opciones. Hago un comentario de uno que se ve rico y de una, Kris lo coje y lo pone en la bandeja. Me pongo a reír, que no hay que agarrar todos los que se ven ricos. Kris sonrie y sigue. Nos divertimos mucho en la panadería, cogiendo demasiado pan, llenando la bandeja. Yo, Kris, es mucho! Ella, tranquila, todo bien. Tenemos un viaje largo, hay que alimentarnos. Bueno. Salimos con un paquete, maravilladas al precio-- muy barato por tanto pan. Fingiendo que vamos a una fiesta, a un reunión familiar con todos estes postres, pero de verdad sabíamos que los ibamos a comer toditos nosotras. Y ya de regreso al hostal a agarrar las maletas y salir para el aeropuerto, pasamos una Nutrisa. Venden helado de yogur, y es mi favorito en México. Kris, -Vamos por uno. Yo -No, no tenemos que, tenemos todo este pan!. Ella- No conseguiste tu churro. Por lo menos vas a conseguir tu Nutrisa. Yo- Ok. Me encanta que me consienta. :) Ya. Compramos. Estuvo riquísimo, por supuesto. 

 Jaja, Ya! Se acabó la entrada de pura comida!  Es que México es el  Santísimo Cielo  para la comida. Nadie lo puede negar. En todo el viaje todos los viajeros con quienes nos encontramos están de acuerdo-- México tiene la mejor sazón, tantas delicias riquísimas, el chile, uy. [Take me back?] ;) 



Y agrego que tuve la oportunidad de visitar por unos dulces momentos a mis amiguis en Compassion en DF. Fue muy lindo volverles a ver. Todos se acordaron de mi, me recordaron de las aventuras y diversiones que solíamos hacer en la oficina cuando estuve de voluntaria allí hace más de un año. Fue breve, pero valió la pena. También tuve chance de reunirme con un amigo que había conocido en la playa en Oaxaca... que suerte! Kris también tuvo un reencuentro con un amigo de Rancho Akna, el primer rancho que conocimos en Oaxaca, pero en Peru! Que linda la vida, y coincidental. ;) *inventando palabras* #chalenzaje

¡Gracias por leer!

******************  In ENGLISH now!   ****************************************

Greetings!

I want to share a note about our visit with a good friend in his town of origin. I met Salvio and his wife, Victoria, in Skagit Valley, WA, 5 years ago while interning with Tierra Nueva. Salvio, like many from his town, left his house very young to go to the US in search of work. His town suffered great poverty—there wasn’t a way to make a decent income or move forward, raise a family. So he went to California to work in the harvests. He returned to his town and married his wife, and then they both came back and worked in California, Oregon, and Washington in the fields, all the while raising their two children. They later found Tierra Nueva, and started to work in the Family Support Center assisting other immigrants, doing Bible studies in mixteco, their native tongue, etc.
These things I already knew just from knowing Salvio. He had told me before that something like 60% of the population of his town had abandoned it to move to the US, but it wasn’t evident or fathomable until we were walking the streets of that town and he was pointing out all these houses that were abandoned, telling us that this cousin and that friend and so on, are now in the US. It was even more evident when we met his co-workers and other people in the town who 1. Spoke English, and 2. Told us that they had lived in Hillsboro, Beaverton, Forest Grove, and North Plains. Imagine, we’re out, far out, in this tiny town in Oaxaca, and all these people have been to and lived in the same cities I live in. And then Salvio’s father told us that in his day he came to work as a bracero (a migrant farm worker through the Bracero Program, after the Mexican Farm Labor Agreement was signed in 1942) in California various times. They told us that this town, Santa Catarina de Noltepec only progressed/had more infrastructure installed, roads, cars, etc. because of the money that was sent back from locals working in the US. I think a lot of the people that live there are still maintained in part by relatives in the US. The wages are just incomparable. However, it does seem that people get along just fine in so much as food; they raise their milpa, have their gardens, raise their animals. Money is only necessary for… everything else. Clothes, soap, electricity. Anything you can’t make from what nature gives.

Anyway, this is the socio-economic part I suppose. Maybe not very well written, but hopefully you get the idea.

And to explain Salvio’s situation: right now he is in his town again because he was called to serve. He accepted (you kind of have to as a citizen), and so he is there for one year, serving. His family stayed in WA. He misses them terribly. It isn’t easy to return to your town when you accustom to life in the US. Not because the standard of living is lower or comforts are less, but because of the community change. Salvio left his town and this community when he was like 15 years old. He hasn’t lived there for something like 35 years, only visited, and he has changed much as a person. People are expecting him to be the same, and he isn’t, and won’t be. But he will complete his service.

Also I want to share that Noltepec is BEAUTIFUL. It is in the mountains (but not SO high up) and nature is very present and let be. There are dirt roads, as well as stone and cement roads. There are chickens, turkeys, cows, and donkeys at everyone’s house. In the day it is warm in the sun, in the nights it is cold, but the sky is full of stars and the air is so fresh and pure that you feel nourished just breathing. Ah, and the people are so warm, so sincerely kind. We would be walking around town with Salvio, and he would be greeting everyone, many by name, in mixteco or español. If it was a relative he would stop and talk with them for a while, and we could tell that he was telling them about us, his friends, and they would smile, and we would smile. I never felt that anyone was ingenuine or had mal-intentions.

And we met Salvio’s parents; his mother speaks and understands mixteco, so we learned to say thank you and just repeated that whenever she would feed us. Or Salvio would translate things for for us and her. We talked more with his father. He was very kind, answering all of our curiosities. Ah, and the tortillas that his mother made were the best tortillas—giant flour tortillas, hot and soft from the fire.

We also spent a good amount of time at Salvio’s sister-in-law’s house. She is younger and outgoing, very welcoming, and talked with us for hours about her life and anything and everything else. She invited us to have breakfast in her home, so we went and my goodness was it amazing. She made us atole de maíz which is a hot drink made from corn and water, and a plate of frijoles criollos con huevos, avocado, tomato, lettuce, and cilantro. And, of course, giant corn tortillas. Everything came from her garden, everything. And she says to us, I don’t know if you like it, it is what we eat in the countryside. And we’re like, You’re kidding. This is the best food we have eaten. This is the best food that exists. Organic, fresh, grown with love.

Needless to say, we had a great time visiting Salvio. We learned a lot. And the goodbye was so much less sad than the rest because I know that I will see him soon.

Also, I should add, that in the last days in Mexico, we tried to make a few dreams come true. We set our priorities. 1: Drink those fresh fruit juices. 2: Eat tlacoyos or esquites or any of the delicious street foods. And 3: Eat churros. Serious goals.

The juice was easy to find if I remember right. They are ubiquitous. The tlacoyo was eaten, but it took on the form of a huarache. The churros, let me tell you.

Look, in many places in Mexico, in the city, churros are sold. But there is only ONE PLACE that makes them right (or I should say, to my taste). Those that you find anywhere else tend to be stale, or even if they are hot they are these skinny crunchy churros without filling, and if they are filled it is only with chocolate or carmel or strawberry jam, and again, they are skinny. Later I will tell you how churros from El Churrazo are.

The Journey:
Upon seeing all of the people in the metro (light rail) that we were going to take, and upon wanting to be a good friend to Kris and not drag her on the crazy search for churros on our last night in Mexico, I told her that we could pass on the churros. That we could just stay downtown and find some good dinner (we were both pretty hungry) and have a good night. Kris says, ¨We have come this far. We are not going to leave Mexico without searching for your churro¨. I love her. So we got on the crowded, hot metro with half the population of Mexico City, and we rode it and transferred and rode it again, and got off and found the bus that would take us another 40 minutes to the street that I used to live on, where the Holy Churro Man would sell us 2 delicious churros. All the hopes to find these churros. This churro that I knew well, that carries me into the clouds for its taste of sugar and cinnamon, of chocolate and the filling of coconut or strawberry jam, for the sacred ritual that it is, the celebration that is to see the Churro Man prepare it to my liking and give it to me, hot, crunchy, and soft; and to enjoy it with my dear friend who has never tried the most delicious dessert in Mexico…
So we are looking out the window, I see that we have arrived, we get off, and we start to walk up the dark street, searching for that sweetly aromatic, warmly lit stand. We arrived to where it used to be. Nothing. Still hopeful, -he probably just moved- we continued walking. We found a bakery open and hoping not to offend, asked about the churro stand. He told us to keep walking, that he thinks the churros moved down the road a bit. Encouraged again, we kept walking until we saw the sign. There is was. In all its glory. Mr. Churro Man wasn’t there, but some other people were. We asked them for churros, they said the machine broke down this morning and they haven’t been able to make churros all day.


Would you like something else? … No.

Come back tomorrow! It will be fixed. … This is our last night in Mexico.

Kris looks at me. Me, I can’t believe it.

Almost immediately we were lighthearted again, laughing at the situation. Again with our favorite joke: if you don’t have it, don’t advertise it. I asked Kris if we could pass by my friend’s, Lety and Toño’s house, and she agreed. So we go out front and I yell up to the window, Letyyy! I hear her, Voy! (Coming!). She comes down, lets us in, and after greetings to the rest of the family, she asks about the churros. We tell her the sad sad story, and Yared, her daughter, immediately gets on the phone to call the other churro stand to see if they have churros. Toño just laughs hysterically, saying, You really came all this way just for a churro? I love their laughter. Lety says, well, would you like to have dinner? Us, Yes, please! Ah, Lety’s cooking, my favorite. She gave us mole verde with those corn tortillas that we buy down the road, yum, and lemonade with chia… J How lovely she is! I was also very happy that Kris and Lety could meet. Two people that I highly regard.

And the next day, in the morning Kris says, You have to come see this bakery that I found. Me, Ok. We enter the panadería, it smells wonderful (clearly). Kris picks up a tray and tongs and I observe the options. I make a comment about one pastry, That looks good, and she puts it on the tray. I laugh. Kris, we don’t have to get every bread that looks good. She smiles and continues. We walk through the maze of the store, looking at all the tables, picking out too many pastries, filling the tray. We had a really good time. Kris, it is too much! She, totally calm, totally serious. We have a long trip, Jamie, we have to have food. Alright. So we left with this package of bread, amazed at the price—so cheap for so much bread! Walking out pretending like we’re going to a party or a family gathering with all these pastries, but really knowing that we would eat all of them ourselves.

Walking back to the hostel to meet a friend and head for the airport we pass a Nutrisa. Nutrisa is a Fro-yo chain that I would always go to with my friends from Compassion in Mexico City. Let’s go, says Kris. And me, We don’t have to. We have so much bread! Kris: You didn’t get your churro. You are at least going to get your Nutrisa. Me: Ok. Again, I love her. We got it. It was delicious.

Ah! And on that note, I will add that I had the opportunity to visit for a few sweet moments my friends at Compassion! They all remembered me, and reminded me of the crazy things we would do in the office when I was volunteering there. I got to catch up with a few of them, it was really nice. I also got the chance to meet up with a friend that I made at the beach in Oaxaca in those first weeks. Cool stuff! And Kris told me that she just ran into a friend that we made at Rancho Akna, the first farm we stayed at, but in Peru! How beautiful is life, and coincidences.

Done! The post all about food is over! It is just that Mexico is Holy Heaven for food. Nobody can deny it. Throughout our journey all the travelers we meet agree: Mexico has the best food, so many delicious options, the heat of chile, ayayay. [Take me back? ;)]


Thank you for reading!   

Saturday, March 4, 2017

What a lovely world

Hello friends!

I write you with a full and thankful heart for all that Kris and I have had the privilege to experience on our trip thus far. We have received so much from everyone we have met. I think this post may be remniscent of the last, as I share about the beautiful human beings we have come to know. Last time I wrote we were in the mountains in La Sierra Sur of Oaxaca, staying with the young groovy family. The rest of our time there was lovely. We got to celebrate the eldest child's birthday with a special meal of mole de guajolote (turkey) straight from the farm. They told us that the turkey was a gift to the child the year before for his birthday, so this year they killed it and ate it. Everyone was very excited. It was sweet.

From there we headed back to Oaxaca City and goofed off a while, eating so much delicious food, and going out dancing... I believe. Wait though, this is where it gets good. We found we had an extra week before there was space for us at the farm, so Kris suggested we go visit these small towns to the north of the city. We went. It was wonderful. We arrived at the first town by taxi, called Cuajimoloyas, and the first thing I noticed- silence. It was such a pleasant change from the loud city. We spent the afternoon walking a trail that wove through public and private lands, asking for directions along the way, and goodness, it was a good challenge, and gorgeous. We were in the forest! The people of the town were so genuinely kind. I was really humbled. After an excellent dinner in one of the town's tiny restaurants, we went to bed (so early) and thoroughly enjoyed the beds... and the shelter in the cold night. The following day we hiked to the next town over with a lovely woman who was our guide through the forest. She, again, was so kind. She volunteers to take people on tours. This brings me to the interesting format of these towns.

In these towns, from what I've been able to understand, they govern themselves by selecting citizens to serve the town for a year or two in various positions. In these specific towns, eco-turism is big, so there are also various positions serving tourists. I believe you start to serve the town when you turn 18. When you are called, you go. After that, you can volunteer if you want. In this town, people don't have much as far as money or cars, etc, but through the way the town is set up, it seems that most people get land to raise animals or plants, and through this they supply most of their needs. They are self-sustaining.

Oh my goodness. I almost forgot. We had a really interesting conversation with a man from one of these towns in the taxi ride. He told us about how the climate has been changing-- it used to rain in these mountains, regularly, predictably, and well. This provided for healthy crops, good harvests. He said that now it hardly rains, and when it does the rain is harsh and damages the plants. People aren't planting as much or practicing agriculture as much as they did before because of the unpredictable weather-- a crop can be destroyed in drought or in these harsh rains, and then all the investment is lost. He told us about how before plastic arrived to these towns they would use the fibers of a kind of cactus plant to weave baskets, bags, everything. Then came plastic bags, plastic everything, commercial everything, and the people started to use all of these new products. Now there is just so much trash generated. It was a really good talk. It was crazy.

Kris and I had just been talking about all these things that morning, and then he just confirmed it all. These are the stories we've heard for so long; that our consumerism, waste, and greed, our standard of living that contaminates and uses more than our fair share of resources (in the West) and also the history of taking and exploitation and oppression by the US (and others colonizers) in Latin America (and to be fair, in other places) really affects the poorest, the most humble, the most wise people. It really has made these places poor and kept them poor. It is just crazy. It is a harsh reality.

We feel so strongly our privilege being travelers in Oaxaca. It is so apparent, we just traipsing through the city, laughing, buying snacks, planning trips... worried about nothing, and then all around these people just doing their daily grind, selling the snacks in the street, sweeping with homemade brooms, or working their 12-hr shift to make the equivalent of $4USD in a day. It is hard to know what to do about these feelings, about, again, this reality. We recognize the privilege we have, even as US citizens, to be able to take this long trip to engage our curiosities about the world, to broaden our horizons, to taste the flavors of these far-off places. The thing is, it isn't fair. It just isn't. It isn't fair that I am born well-off, taken care of, and with plentiful opportunity to have a comfortable, even indulgent life, and that someone born in Oaxaca, even if they study and obtain a degree in psychology or engineering, are likely going to be struggling, and that taking even a short trip requires months or even years of saving. Even when they visit places in their own country, they may be discriminated against because of where they come from because the white person (with more money) is worth more attention.

These are things that have been rolling around in my head. It is good.

Where was I? I should try to be brief; there is much to share. We met other travelers in the next town, we ate more good food (that is really just a given), and we stayed there two nights. We got to enter into a temazcal to sweat... and drink this mint herbal mix tea... which felt so good in the cold mountains, and especially because I got sick those days... And we drank a fermented agave drink, tepache. It was strong. Like wine. Ha. Delicious.

And we walked on, to the next town, and goodness, the hikes were all just gorgeous. Imagine, in the mountains, pure, wild nature. On this last hike we met 2 friends, a young woman from England and a young man originally from the US but who had been living in New Zealand for a few years. They were really good company. We had a great time chatting on the trail, getting to know each of them, hearing of their experiences and hopes and dreams... Ha, always. And later we danced a little swing and Miss England let me teach her some bachata and merengue. And later we played card games until we went to bed. It was just pure fun. !Bellas seres humanos en todos lados! 

It was beautiful to visit the towns. We returned to Oaxaca, and then we got to go to the next farm! In Rojas de Cuahtemoc, a small livestock desert town, we arrived and while walking with our backpacks, were greeted warmly by The Icecream Man, who told us how to proceed to arrive to the farm. I think it is where most of the backpackers who come to Rojas are headed. Oh, man. This farm was out of control. So well organized, with a solid group of international volunteers. They invited us in, we set up our tents, and then we jumped into the game, sawing carrizo, a plant similar to bamboo, to help construct a bench.


We were so impressed with this place. We got to work on natural building projects (the carrizo, and an adobe-like plaster on a building). Like at Rancho Akna (the first farm) we mixed the plaster with our feet, and slapped and smoothed it on the wall with our hands. This mix was filtered sand, dirt, and baba de nopal, which helps it to all stick together. Pretty messy, very fun. I also got to help take measurements to create a map of the property with a lovely woman who is an architect. I also helped Kris build a compost system for the human waste generated on the property. That was rad. Kris worked so hard and finished it within that two weeks that we were there. Wild. And now that farm has a sustainable way to take care of their waste and turn it into a resource that they can use to fertilize their plants. Humanure. If you haven't looked into it, I really suggest you do. It is so important! Talk about Systems Unseen*.

Now I'm going to go on about that because it is fascinating. Basically, with the current systems we have, toilets, we flush waste away with (at least in the US) CLEAN DRINKING WATER, a precious limited resource. Then it gets sent to a Waste Treatment Plant where they use all sorts of chemicals to filter and process it to make it into something less toxic**, then eventually it is sent out to river or sea.... it can be done so much better. If we can take responsibility for our waste, we can implement systems that (like what Kris just built), cleanly convert that waste into a resource, saving water, saving the energy used in those Treatment Plants, and saving the rivers and oceans from further contamination. It is just wild.

This farm project has the ultimate goal of being a learning center for the community and outsiders, to show permaculture systems (recycling water, composting toilets, organic and sustainable cultivation of crops, specifically amaranth, which is native to Mexico and high in nutrients). It is funded by an association called Puente, that seeks to mitigate poverty and malnutrition.

Surely I will remember fondly the meals we shared at this farm. They have it worked out so that we´re on a rotation for house chores duty. When it is your day, you get up a little early and prepare breakfast for everyone (generally some delux oatmeal with an agua fresca or cafe or chocolate). Then as everyone goes to their projects, you get to clean up, wash dishes, and start preparing lunch. They have solar ovens, which are basically mirrors reflecting the sun´s energy onto a bowl with a glass lid. It is slow, but it works. Water simmers, bread bakes... with the pure energy of the sun. My first day as Kitchen Volunteer was a little rough because I didn´t know the ropes... but the second day (which happened to be our last day at the farm) I had a great time. I made vegan oatmeal banana pancakes for breakfast, and then an Italian plate for lunch, complete with pasta and slow roasted tomato sauce, steamed veggies, a salad (prepared by our coin Italian) and bread... and agua de jamaica... It was so fun, jamming out to my music, cooking the best I know how to nourish these new friends.

And that was the best part. Everyone who cooked took their role seriously, and prepared meals with great love and great seasoning. We ate curries, falafel, soups, breads-- from Spanish, Italian, French, US, and Mexican chefs. Everything was just so good. And everyone was always very grateful. It is simple, but just really nice.

Goodness. So much goodness.

Maybe this is a good place to pause, leaving on a note of gratefulness, joy, community, and health. I still want to share of a wonderful visit to Santa Catarina de Noltepec, a remote town where a good old friend is living, in Oaxaca, and then some closing thoughts on our time in Mexico. We are currently in Ecuador. Tomorrow we head to our first farm here. We are very excited.

Thank you, for your support, for your love, for the wisdom you have shared with me. I think of many of you often, and reflect on words you've shared. Much love to you!


*Kris's term. Get ready for a podcast with the same title.
**Even after excessive processing in the WWT Plants, particulates from prescription medications, antibiotics, etc, remain in the water (because our body doesn't absorb them, they just pass through in urine). These then get aborbed by algae, consumed  by fish and other wildlife, hurting their bodies and in turn hurting ours if we consume the fish. Also, some of it gets cycled through again to our "clean" water, and we drink it. Yikes.

Wednesday, January 25, 2017

In Search Of An Alternative Way

¡Hola Amigos! ;-)

I write to you from a little Ciber (internet cafe) in San Mateo, a pueblito (small town) in the mountains between Oaxaca (the capital of Oaxaca) and Pochutla (a coastal city). As we type, Kris and I share a snack of cacahuates con chile, ajo, y sal (salted garlic pepper peanuts). We both love peanuts, aguas frescas (fruit smoothies), palanquetas, platanitos, coco, pan dulce, quesadillas... it works out. We have a lot in common.

Maybe I should start with an introduction. Kris, a friend of mine from Portland, OR, and I are on a trip, traveling with our backpacks through Mexico, touring around and volunteering at permaculture farms (WWOOFing). So far we have been in Mexico DF (the capital), Oaxaca, Oaxaca, Puerto Escondido, Oaxaca, and now, as afore stated, in the mountains.

In DF we arrived to a hostel that I had stayed at before and made good connections with the community that lives around there. It was fun to see a few of those people again and also meet new people (travelers, mostly). We met a young man from Peru who is in a hard core band and practices yoga.(His band is called Alhambre... Hard Core Lima, Peru.) Really nice guy. Also a good contact for later on... We met interesting people from Scotland and Germany, too. It was a good time. Kris and I spent a few days walking around the city, going to the botanical garden in Chapultepec (the big park in Mexico City where Tenochtitlan was originally). What else? While we were there I went to visit the family who hosted me for 4 months when I was in Mexico before. All is well with them; they are still in the same camino, still going to church... It was really nice to see them again. But odd, because it was literally just for like a day.

Ah, and then we went to another hostal that was really hip, really hippie :-) All the walls were painted with murals, with poetry, there was a vegetarian only kitchen, and there were rad travelers from all around...

Next we made our way to Oaxaca where we stayed with the cousin of a friend from Oregon (gracias Don Fernando!) who happened to be a young woman about our age. We had a good time. She was really sweet. While we were there we learned about different issues that Mexico is facing-- well actually, when we arrived we learned about them, but she helped to contextualize them and explain it all more clearly. One big thing is the gasoline prices. There is a big upset because of some of the President's actions, and the price of gasoline rose to higher than it has ever been. Protests, streets closed, a lot of upset, understandably.

While in Oaxaca we got to go to Monte Alban which is the site of an ancient city, ruins, pyramids, amazing, removed, with a lot of history. We really enjoyed it.

From there we continued on down south to Puerto Escondido, which is a beach town. There are many tourists, many snowbirds, many surfers. We did, however, go to stay on a ranch a little out of the town, up in the hills. It is a beautiful place. It is dry (as it is the dry season), but there are adobe constructions, an outdoor kitchen, a letrine and many projects in the works. We arrived in the late afternoon, tired and sweaty from the looong (and winding... ay) bus ride. Two guys were there who kindly showed us around. They mentioned a river-- I jumped on that. It was getting dark, but we took headlamps and headed down to the river to cool off. It was like a 20 minute walk down dirt roads, and the river was quite shallow with a good current. It was so nice. We arrived back at the common area refreshed and found a bunch of people, greeting us with kisses, introducing themselves, all in the dark. Ha. Uncomfortable! I was a little overwhelmed, so I set up my tent and went to bed, but Kris stayed up with them all and they made dinner and played music and chatted...  This was to be the pattern, the rhythm of things for this ranch.

In the morning I awoke, refreshed, and was able to meet everyone again, in the clarity of the light of the new day, and I believe I helped make breakfast or wash dishes while chatting with other travelers. They explained that we all contribute to buying and cooking food, and that there is work to be done but you only do as much as you like. We're all free to do as we please. Kris and I were a bit surprised to hear this, or I was at least (because generally with WWOOFing the arrangement is you work 30 hrs a week in exchange for food and lodging) but as I got to talking to people, eating the food they prepared, working on the adobe construction with bare hands and bare feet in the warm sun, going down to the beach to play in the ocean, returning to the house to make dinner by candlelight and play acoustic music and dance and hula and stretch and look at the stars, I realized what a treasure we had come upon. Ah, we also got to take hula hooping classes from the English woman and go out to a concert of friends of a friend and dance so hard and free.

We met characters from all over: A hula-hooping, health conscious, free, beautiful, yoga instructor fashion designer from Inglaterra (England) who speaks with the most beautiful accent and speaks the few Spanish phrases she has learned with an equally fun accent. And who is hilarious, my goodness, and wise. A young environmental engineer from England who has, again, that gorgeous accent, and the kindest demeanor, and is also travelling, planning on living and working in Mexico for a while. A few chaps from Guadalajara, a city in Jalisco, Mexico. who work as architects on projects both private (for income) and community-based (volunteering), who have a rad outlook on life and are, like the rest of us, seeking out a better, more whole, more honest way to live. They are also awesome musicians, and shared of their gifts and encouraged me to play and sing as well.  Then there is a young woman from DF who is just lovely, who is also free and working for the community on various projects, sustainability, etc. She plays Son Jarocho, which is a style of music that I've become familiar with through friends in Oregon. When she began to play my heart soared a little, and she taught me a couple of songs. And one of the chaps from Guadalajara taught me to play La Bamba, haha, which is great, but also is one of those songs that gets stuck in your head, so everybody loved that. ;-) Then there were young men from the Czech Republic, Chile, Italy, who were really fun and wholesome and kind, and would look after us a little, like uncles, and joke around. And later at the beach we met a few more lovely, free people from Chile and France and Argentina. Ahh, man.

I just loved getting to know each of these beautiful souls, hearing about where they have come from, where they would like to go, what they want to learn-- everyone is still figuring it out, and it is good. And we all got along pretty well and had some really sweet community time together. I accustomed to the heat, I hated it and then I loved it. We swam in the ocean a lot, went to el Mercado to buy food for the community, washed our clothes and our bodies in the river, slept under a million stars and a bright moon every night, awoke to a slow rising sun every morning... it was a dream. It was really a dream.

And now, through a person we met at that ranch, we have come up to the mountains, and we are staying with this young family on their ranch. They have a lot going on. They have a temazcal (like a sweat lodge built from adobe, used for ceremonies I believe) but they are building a new one. They have a few adobe houses (one they live in). We put up a big teepee where Kris and I are now staying. They distill essential oils and make natural body products using many plants that they grow. They have 3 children who bathe daily but also are just always covered in dust as they run around barefoot all day helping in the garden or with whatever projects. They are strong and healthy and smart. I'm continually impressed by this family. The couple is originally from Mexico City but they, as all these people I have mentioned, wanted something different. So they have been building their life out here on this property for 7 years now, and I'd say they are doing quite well.

Anyway, this is maybe a lot, or maybe a little, of what we have experienced. Maybe too many details. But I suppose take from this what you like. We have been continually blessed to meet interesting, kind people. We have never felt in danger or afraid. We have been seeing such beauty in the scenery and the people. We feel free, we feel sure, we are learning and experiencing new things every single day.

We sympathize with those suffering cold back at home (although right now in the mountains I am also struggling with this cold... brrr). We send you warm hugs, much love, a spirit of freedom, of light, of positive energy...

and much love. Thank you to everyone who has supported us on our search. May we all find good roads to walk on; may we all continue learning and cherishing the feel of the sun, or the rain, or the wind, or the ocean waves on our skin.

Peace!


*Also, in case you are unaware, our plan is to be traveling, WWOOFing, for the next 5 months or so. We intend to travel to Ecuador and make our way through Peru and Bolivia before returning home in June. :-)


Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Reflection from a Day in the Garden




I LOVE
Working in the garden
Hard
Just with myself and the earth
And sometimes my music
Singing, Laughing (so much) 
Delighting in the utter Beauty of Being and Existing 
how I am made to 
Be and Exist.

With plants that nourish me, 
Nourishing them with tender care, 
composted sheep manure
lovely fallen leaves...

Them surprising me with how they 
just 
keep
growing
Giving life- 
There is enough goodness 
For the little bugs and slugs and I and friends 
Especially since the bugs are passing on
with the Change of season
Fall:
another overwhelming beauty to witness.


Estoy agradecida. This is how I end many of my journal entries and many of my days- with the phrase, “I am thankful”. There is really nothing else I can say or do when things go well, when I see such beauty around me, maybe sometimes even within me. My heart bubbles over with contentment, and I fall asleep.

Some background to this little poem~
I've been serving as a Confluence* AmeriCorps member with Adelante Mujeres since mid-September and have experienced too many emotions and felt too many shifts in perspective to count, which is partially why I haven't posted a reflection up to this point. But today I have felt so well, so high, that I want to share. 
When everything was green
Poco a poco I'm molding into this position.
I've felt lost at work- that I don't know what I'm supposed to be doing or why I'm here. I've felt incompetent and passionless and frustrated. So a few days ago I made some colorful documents to help stir the passion, to actively seek to make this work out. I wrote out goals- Meet more community members, Seek to become part of the community [to know and be known;)], etc. And in these few days, some of that has happened. I'm so thankful.
I also (in trying to figure out how to make this service more enjoyable or inspiring) reflected on what it is that I have loved in other positions I've held, as I was finding it hard to say "I love this position!". The list went as so:
I LOVED... working at Ray's, translating in Compassion, so many things that are not what I’m doing now, etc.

And then today,

I added to that document.

I started with I LOVE, and out came this reflection of the day. You know, it takes a good while to acostumbrarse to any new place, position, or community. And I am certainly not fully in this community yet. I don't know if I'll even reach that in the remaining 9 months of my service. But the point is: through diligence, perseverance, and just showing up to service and keeping an open mind, I am settling in. Really, it is through people who are letting me in- encouraging, teaching, and befriending me.

Goodness, and through fresh organic fruits and vegetables! Dear Lord, when you taste produce from YOUR OWN garden, there has never been anything sweeter. Today as I worked I munched on young fava leaves and cherry tomatoes, and I took home brussel sprouts, onions, and broccoli to cook up for dinner with a friend.
Gorgeous and fed me for weeks!
Surprise carrot! Delicious sweet flesh.


Dear, dear, resilient brussel sprouts.
 I should mention that working in the community garden is not the whole of my service. I'm serving in the Agriculture Program of Adelante which includes the Farmer's Market, a CSA Distribution Program, Sustainable Ag, Business, and Nutrition classes, and (as mentioned) the Community garden. So I help in all those areas. I love the Market for the social interaction and the whole production of it. I love the CSA for the straightforwardness of it, the importance of it, and getting to work with the other staff and volunteers in a sort of mindless setting for a while (sorting vegetables). And I'm really loving the garden (obviously) just for the time and space to really do something where I can taste and feel the reward of my labor throughout the process.
<You would think I were WWOOFing in Latin America ;)>
This is mi maestro, Ale-Alejandro, and farmers of el huerto comunitario.
These are (by my job description) my main areas of work. But the beauty of AmeriCorps is that we simultaneously serve with an organization and pursue our own dream project. My ideas are fermenting, currently, as I meet more community members and dream up possibilities. My people curiosity is being stirred again. There are just these gems of human beings living in our midst! It is terribly thrilling to meet them.
Forest Grove is so beautiful.

I want to encourage you all to dream. If people tell you that your dream is unrealistic, impractical, or they just give you a blank stare- hold on to your dream. Chances are, someone somewhere is already living it- which means it totally possible and practical. Seek those like-minded people out- they will potentially serve as your greatest inspiration and best help to reaching your ideals.
My first day in the garden
Some broccoli and chiles in my plot. 
So this is where I am. I will try to post an update in the future. Thank you for being a part of my life. Thank you for caring. May all go well with you. May you enjoy the same natural high of good health, a centered spirit, and connection to the good earth beneath your feet.




**NOTES: 
http://www.adelantemujeres.org/





http://www.confluencecenter.org/

Thursday, June 11, 2015

Hey look, it's Mexico.

Hello Friends, Family, and Curious Strangers,

¡Saludos de la Ciudad de México!

This is my first blog post from México. And I’m in my last week here. Nonetheless, I wanted to write to share how I’ve been blessed abundantly throughout this time, and maybe a few things I’ve learned.

I was sent to México City (really, a municipality outside the federal district called Tlanepantla) by the Evangelical Friends Mission. “Friends”, or Quakers, are known for practicing peace (non-violence), being open to current revelation by the Holy Spirit of GOD, and choosing to live simply.

A link about a Quaker: casadelosamigos.org

I came primarily to learn—of the culture, of how the church works in their community, and of the reasons why México is the way it is. I also wanted to support a cause, so I’ve been volunteering in the Compassion International Mexico office. Compassion works to alleviate poverty by connecting through churches poor children in Mexico with generous sponsors in 1st world countries.

CULTURE
It is every sight, sound, rhythm, taste, smell, and feeling that you may experience here. Every moment is fully Mexican. The colorful square-ish homes, the tiendas (stores) and puestos de comida (food carts), the loud traffic, the broken sidewalks... and in smaller towns the rural peace of hot dust and savagely resilient brush, the cobbled streets, the houses in hacienda style, the asoteas (flat rooftops) where you can see for kilometers.

In the street there is music sounding from las casas (houses), las tiendas (stores), unabashedly cranked all the way up, filling the air with rhythms of banda, bachatas, reggaetón, and the occasional US pop.

La comida is flavored with chile y limón, cilantro y epazote, y canela (cinnamon) y chocolate. It is accompanied always by tortillas or tostadas, and aguas frescas or café. It is communal—we always share meals together. And it is made from scratch—everything in the house is freshly bought in the market and prepared with love, and you can also find countless puestos (kiosks) in la calle (street) selling Vitamin T (tacos, tortas, tlacoyos), fruta picada (chopped fruit), churros, y jugos (juices). All delicious.

Walking through the city there are parts that smell of carnitas (roasted pork tacos) or pan (bread), and others like Parque Chapultepec where you just keep inhaling as deeply as you can because the naturaleza (nature) smells so fresh and healthy. And, of course, one of the prices of “progress” is contamination of our natural world, and so there is plenty of that smell as well—here in the city.
When we have traveled through the Mexican countryside and various towns, I watch the landscapes pass by in wondrous delight. When I learned how to get around town on my own, a sense of independence and freedom. Upon seeing new sights, a new museum, Aztecan ruins, an excitement and stimulation in that student in me. In greeting friends in the church, Compassion, or home, a warm acceptance.

I suppose the best thing about being in any new place is experiencing wonderful things for the first time and then getting the chance to experience them again as you develop rhythms, favorites, and friendships.

PEOPLE & PLACES
I have been blessed to have met distinctly beautiful human beings in this time. The family that hosted me took me in as one of their own. The parents have impressed me with their love and consideration for one another, their mutual efforts to work, keep house, keep faith, keep strong their marriage, and continue supporting their grown children. The mother has a strength and perseverance that you couldn’t imagine—that I think stems out of love for her family and for GOD in each human being, and just stubbornness. And she is just a delight. She is a joyful spirit—singing and dancing through the house chores, laughing and cotorreando (joking around) when her family or friends are present sharing a meal—and she has an almost-limitless well of patience and understanding. This is Lety. I love her.

Her husband is also a truckload of fun—his jokes, his expressions—he can always make us laugh. I was very surprised when I first began to see how he and Lety run their house—that he helps, that he doesn’t demand things (like food), but rather asks favors, and that he is just as involved in the lives of his children as Lety. This is Toño. I love him too.

Through Lety and Toño I’ve met their friends—another married couple with grown daughters who are kind and wise—the woman made the effort to take me to various super interesting museums in D.F., including El Templo Mayor.

El Templo Mayor is the ruins of the principle temple of the Aztecas, and was said to be the center of the earth according to the position of the stars. It is where the Mexicas* [Meh-SHEE-kus] gathered to offer sacrifices to the gods, among other activities. You can enter the temple and walk among the ruins, which are incredibly preserved—serpents carved out of stone, and other designs with paint still intact after being covered with dirt and built over for hundreds of years. After you walk through the temple ruins, you enter the museum which presents more artifacts that were found in the excavation of the temple and an impressive exhibition of history throughout eight large themed rooms. It is really incredible. And the entrance fee is only $64MX pesos, which is like $4US dollars. AND, it is right in the middle of the city, which is just awesome that they preserved this area amidst grand buildings and modern shops.

I’ve also been invited into a group of older people from church to play basketball after the Sunday services. It is the best.

And Compassion International is just chock-full of awesome people, which make it really fun and worthwhile to be there.

And lastly, the “goodbyes” have been too many, really, but the “hellos” are worth them, maybe? I’ve met people from other towns, states, and churches, who have taught me various life lessons, and encouraged my soul.

For now, I sign off, as my computer is about to die and maybe not wake again... for a while.

PEACE! LOVE! JOY in the ADVENTURE!


*”Mexica” is nauhuatl (the indigenous language of the Aztecas) for “Azteca”. It is where we get the name of the country, México.