Sunday, March 7, 2010
Real Food, Real Life
It is March. The jacarandas are turning the town purple. Mangos are in season and everywhere in great abundance. The Lenten festivities are in full swing. Fuego is spewing away and many are whining about all the dust. Organic "pollution" that is good for the gardens and also provides full employment for the muchachas. Unless you go to Hiper Paiz (Walmart) or Pricesmart (Costco) in the capital it is pretty easy to maintain a diet of "slow" and very fresh food by wandering through the mercado on market days. A chicken might even be "fresher" than you want to cope with. The carrots are enormous and very tasty, nothing like those that come from ten pound plastic bags in the states. Mushrooms smell like mushrooms when they are cooking. Strawberries look and taste like those from your childhood. Pineapples picked locally when ripe make the whole house smell good. Eggs have deep orange yolks because the chickens eat what they are supposed to and nothing that they are not supposed to.
This past week I had the good fortune to meet with the staff and some of the board members of the Riecken Foundation library in Xolsacmalja, Totonicapan. The library is flourishing after scarcely a year mostly due to the motivation of the members of the totally indigenous community who worked for five years to have a library. It has attracted international attention and is receiving funding from the Finnish Embassy in Guatemala City to pursue programs designed to keep the indigenous culture and their language of Quiche alive. Amazingly, a woman is now the president of the board and she has asked me for my email address despite the fact that the community does not have internet. Her name is Juana (second from left in the photo) and she wanted to know what I did for a living, how old I was, was I married. She too has a niece named Elena. She rides a bus to Totonicapan to use the internet in a cyber cafe. I expect that I will hear from Juana.
My Rotary Club (Woodside/Portola Valley California) has just approved the funds to install an internet connection in the library but on advice of the Riecken country director we asked them to submit a proposal including a budget and how the community would plan to pay the ongoing monthly costs. The expectation is that their proposal will show up very soon and we will then tell them that the funds are available. Their next dilemma is how to add to the three computers they currently have which are in constant use even without internet. It might have to involve another Rotary project.
Gladly, the tourists are returning to Antigua thus the locals who are dependent on the tourist trade for a living are breathing a sigh of relief. Antigua is definitely cheaper than London or Paris and the weather is way better, especially in March.
Life with Estela and Alexander is better than anything I have seen on television of late. At the moment they are not speaking so Alexander comes around on the weekend when Estela is not here to tend the garden. Yesterday he pleaded with me to let him run his laundry through the washing machine while he worked. When things are bad on the home front his biggest dilemma is how to get his laundry done. Despite the ongoing domestic dramas (I have lost total track of who is or is not doing what to or with whom) the children seem to be flourishing and are both enjoying and doing well in school. Denis turned 13 the other day and, oh dear, his voice has changed since I was last here. Can the hormones be too far behind? He does seem to be a sensible, sensitive kid but only time will tell. Heaven knows Alexander, who can be utterly charming but is really about ten at heart, is certainly not the best role model.
Next, a progress report on the young students
in San Antonio Aguas Calientes who are receiving school scholarships from readers of this blog.
Posted by Joan at 7:53 AM