Monday, November 5, 2007

So far 120+ people have died due to the flooding. The farmers in the lower lands lost everything: cattle, fence, crops and even the soil near the river. Before this trip I felt like a poser saying I was a farmer. Now the calluses from rock climbing and my machete are stained brown with the rich soil of my farm. I’ve started to earn my farm hands. My friends are a little slower to take the tools from me. I’ve proved myself with the ax and remembered how to mix cement.

Antonio de la Rosa (mason/carpenter) uses a surgeon’s precision mixing the cement and placing blocks for the worm-bin. Antonio Galvan (farm manager) never stops working on the farm and eagerly accepts the heaviest load on the worst part of the trail. As we look for plantains for breakfast, he casually draws his machete to prune dried leaves, every step misses the newly planted coffee trees. His kids produce firewood like it was bundled behind the rancho and start the fogon de tres piedras (wood cooking stove) even faster.

I can’t impress a Dominican with what I know – they think I know everything – and they think I’m weak and clutzy with everything else. Is it respect that they ask me not to do any of the hard work? Yes. Do they see my own inefficiency on the farm? i.e. Some of the firewood I chopped this morning was green. Why do I feel the need to prove myself physically like an adolescent? I’m an expert rock-climber. I can do a one-armed-pull-up.

Looking at the calendar I only have a 17 days left. My natural experiment is taking longer than I planned. I’ve found another farmer (the other two fell through) willing to work with me, and sell me ripe cherries, but he is dragging his feet. I’m going to lose 3 days to the new moon. I got a phone number of a guy who does semi-wash in Costa Rica. Hopefully he will teach me to semi-wash because I don’t know how. Will I have any thing to export? Is my natural ever going to dry out? Will I find a dry mill I can work with? Do I still love this? – YES!

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