Note: the following post is from one of our travelers, Mic Morris, who is currently in San Lucas with a group of TJ travelers from Rolling Hills Presbyterian Church.
is our day of rest. We observe the Sabbath by not working, relaxing and learning more about this beautiful country. We started the day with our devotion taken from John 5:2-16. Jesus heals the crippled man by the pool called Bethesda. We read the scripture three times the first time finding a word which jumps out at you. The second time looking for a specific message which speaks to you in this time and place. The third time finding what this message is calling us to do or bring forth. I found it ironic that Jesus healed the man on the sabbath and tells him to pick up his bedroll and start walking, which was breaking the law in the current custom of the day, then later when he meets the same man in the temple he tells him not to return to his sinning ways. This, after having told him to break the law by picking up his bedroll and carrying it home. The message to me, appears to be that our customs and our culture and even our laws that we often consider to be prohibiting sin are not necessary a true indication of right and wrong action. Rosa Parks was breaking the law when she refused to give up her seat on the bus. Archbishop Romero of El Salvador was not sinning when he broke the church and his government in giving hope to the disenfranchised. He was killed by those who empowered his government to ignored his plea for social justice. We had an interesting discussion and were almost late for a great breakfast of pancakes, with honey, fresh melons, pineapple, mango and papayas.
After breakfast we made a short trip to the market to look for work boots. Pete got the only pair in size twelve and one half and I found nothing that would fit. Betty was having trouble finding a size to fit and we left. Half way up the street the shop owner caught up with us and he had found her a pair in another style which she had originally favored. She returned and purchased them.
Around we left for our sightseeing and informational gathering tour of the area. We climbed in the back of the pickup and drove up to a one of the mountains to stopping at a spot overlooking the lake and the city of San Lucas. It was a fascinating sight. A blue lake surrounded by mountains and volcanoes on every side. Our Guide, one of Candace’s local acquaintance, told us the lake was found to be the reminisce of an ancient volcano. He also told us about the history and the legends concerning the earliest settlement, where the people came from, how the settlement was named, what it had been and what it has become. Since WWII most of the local sustainable agriculture has been replaced by coffee plantations. It has had some unfortunate consequences as it makes the people dependent on a small group of brokers who buy the coffee at very low prices and sell it to large corporations. The system is designed to keep the people dependent and impoverished. It makes you conscious that when you pay $3 to $5 for a cup of Starbucks how little of that is passed back to the men who work all day in the sun harvesting those small coffee beans. Shouldn’t there be a better way to distribute the wealth of our modern world? I know some of you would call it socialism, I think it is really social justice. As stated in the book of Micah: “What more does the Lord require of you than to show mercy love justice and walk humbly with your God.”
From there we traveled up the road to a parcel of land in which our guide was engaged in a form of agriculture called perma culture. Although we were looking at the growth and production of food crops he said that it applied to every activity we engage in. What is the best use of our resources to provide for the greatest number of people. We had a long dissertation on the farming method known as the three sisters. The same method we experimented with in our own Rolling Hills garden. He explained how each of the sisters helped and assisted on another. The corn grew tall and allowed the beans to cling to and wrap around its structure. The beans in turn are legumes returning nitration to the soil which allows the corn to grow and develop. The squash covers the earth and provides shade keeping the weeds in check and reducing the damage of falling rain to the soil. It was a method developed by the Mayan people and and the Iroquois of North America and used for years in the corn production of Guatemala providing a sustainable agriculture for the people. An interesting point is that the three sisters provide a complete diet corn and beans supplement each other providing all of the necessary protein that a meat diet would provide. The squash is often a fruit or a dessert which provides variety to the diet. One only has to look today at the children of coffee workers begging for food and receiving junk food in return. Their teeth are often rotting from the soft drink and cola so easily provided by their dependence on foreign food shipped in to replace the food stuffs no longer grown. Coffee is a mixed blessing. It provides a quick monetary return for the labor and then a long period of dependence waiting for the next harvest. The prices are easily controlled by a select few. A more diverse form of farming would bring about a healthy change for Guatemala. People would be feeding their family first then their community through the local markets and then trading the excess along side a reduced dependence on the coffee, presently their primary export on the wold market.
We also talked about how climate change was effecting their lives. No better lesson could be found than the powerful rain storm which interrupted our session in the field. The rainy season has officially ended but the forces of nature are no longer under the control of conventional weather. Much like the unruly child high on a sugar diet they are unpredictable and can rain havoc on our best laid pans as they were doing today. We were prepared, however, and dawned our rain gear and ponchos to finish listing to and participating in today,s lesson. We finally had to call and end to it and terminate the walk through the fields viewing his crops and his provisioning of a diverse variety of crops besides the three sisters. The pickup truck arrived with a sheet plastic cover over the bed. We huddled as best we could for shelter as we returned to the hotel. We had a delicious lunch of potatoes mixed with salsa giving it the appearance of a sweet potato. Within mashed potatoes was a piece of chicken and it was all wrapped in a banana leaf.. Merabela is one of the most creative chefs you can find. She buys the food at the local market and finds ways to blend the produce into some of the most delightful and well presented dishes you can imagine in this rather humble Establishment.
This evening we had a meal of a Guatemala style spaghetti we had a hobinero chilli sauce which Pete, Gordon and I tried. I found it mildly spicy and delightful.
will be our second day of work. I only hope we will get a beak in the weather because we are planning to start placing the stones for the foundation after we finish our work tying the reinforcing bar columns.