Friday, May 13, 2016
Well, this post is probably going to go in several directions, starting with my activities and observations, and we’ll just see where this goes. First of all, I am beginning a healthier lifestyle by finding a companion to hike with every morning. Lourdes lives 2 houses from Magda, and now every morning at 8am I go to her house and we walk. We took a path beyond the bull ring and came upon a sweat lodge, or Temazcal. It looks as if it is made of cement with carvings on it, and it is dome-shaped. I’ve heard about them, but never been to one. They operate on the weekends, and since I am going on an all-day trip with the staff tomorrow, visiting this place will have to wait for another weekend.
At 1:50 am this morning, I was awakened by thunder, lightning and a pretty severe rainstorm. I wasn’t sure, for a few minutes, what I was hearing. My first thought was that, while during the day I had thought a few times that I had heard thunder in the distance, then decided that I must have been hearing things and dismissed it, it had turned out that my impression was correct. My next thought was – should I get up and close the windows. I decided against it because the eaves were protecting the room from becoming inundated with water, so I went back to sleep.
When I woke up, the rain had stopped hours ago, and the air was nice and cool, but not so cool that I needed more than a tee shirt, so off we went for our walk. After walking through the woods for 90 minutes, I returned to the Hacienda at 9:30am. Vero asked me if I had had trouble breathing the ash, and I didn’t know what she was talking about. Apparently, while we were walking in the woods, protected by the trees, the volcano had sent a plume of ash 1000 meters into the air and now there was a fine layer of gray grit on the cars, ground and plants within our courtyard.
So – it looks like the rainy season has started, and will possibly continue until September. For my little bat friends, I have read somewhere that they give birth to their babies after the rainy season has ended, and so I hope to see little bat babies come September or October.
I also learned a new word this morning, or rather, a new phrase. Tomorrow morning, we are leaving at 7am “en punto,” EXACTLY at 7am. I was told this was “el tiempo gringa” and I asked why “gringa.” and was told that only gringos show up at the time they are told. Everyone else shows up at least 30 minutes later than the appointed time. This is Mexican Time. When I was in Cameroon, I had heard about an “African week” which could be any number of days, not just 7 and could even be 8 days, and I am sure that everyone has heard of “Island Time.”
May 26, 2016
It’s cool early in the mornings and at night, but still very hot during the day. The skylight on the second floor, where my room is, makes it even hotter, so it is more comfortable to go downstairs during the day in the common area. Last night I turned on the fan and adjusted it to keep it from rotating, preferring to have it just blow the air onto me and not sweep the room.
Lourdes and I start our walks at 8am while it is overcast but cool. There was only two days of rain a while back, so maybe the rainy season has not started after all. One of our routes goes past a sugar cane field. When the cane is high, it is like looking at a painting when I look at the fields of golden and pale green stalks. However, recently as we approached, all I saw was a large field of black stubble on the ground.
When the cane is ready for cutting, the fields are set on fire. The fire apparently burns off most of what is not needed, and once the fire is out, the cañeros come and cut the cane, which is why these men are most times covered in soot. In the migrant camps, such as Quesería, the cañeros work 9 hours per day, 6 days per week cutting cane in the hot sun, and often sleep in the fields to protect what they have cut.
They are paid by the weight of the cane, but only after it has dried out, so that they are actually paid less for the dried cane, which is lighter than when it is first cut. The migrants who are brought here also start out in debt, since they are charged by the seat for the bus that brings them here and also often need to leave some family members behind if they cannot afford seats for everyone. Their lives remind me of the Tennessee Ernie Ford song “16 tons,” and I am glad that Project Amigo offers the children a way out of this life through education, otherwise these children would have nothing more to look forward to except a life of hard labor with little to show for it, living basically hand to mouth. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jIfu2A0ezq0
Well, these fields just outside of Cofradía had been burned and cut and nothing was left but charred stubble. It seemed like only a few days later (though it was longer, I’m sure) that I was now seeing fresh cane starting to come up out of the soil. Lourdes told me that the cane stalks aren’t killed, but can grow from the small stump that is left after cutting. So now there is a field of row upon row of new cane.
I have also been seeing a large number of cane trucks going up and down the highway, and also a very large number of trucks driving through the narrow village streets in order to enter the highway.
But – the trucks will now have to maneuver their way around all the trucks and equipment parked around the jardín for our latest festival – the Fiestas Charro-taurinas, the cowboys and bull-riders. The event will take place this Friday, Saturday and Sunday, with the coronation of the queen of the Fiestas Charro Taurinas tomorrow night, and many events and bands. I guess I will finally get to see the rodeo at the bull ring, the Plaza de Toros. I am very happy that this is not a bullfight where they will torture and kill the bull as they did when I went to the Petatera in Villa de Alvarez (I refused to enter the plaza once I knew what they were actually going to do there).
So you can look forward to reading all about our latest fiesta and viewing many pictures and possibly a video or two in a few days. And on that note, I will say Buenas Noches, and sleep well…