Tuesday, July 28, 2009

como se monte una carga en mulo


How to load stuff on a mule.

One needs:
un mulo - mule
parejo - Dominican seat
zarones - saddle bags
jaquima - bridal
boca'o - reins
pajezeha - pad under the parejo
soga - rope
y sogita de pampano de guineo - little rope pieces from twisted banana "bark". This is fabricated on the spot.

Any self respecting farmer has all of this for his mules ready to go at a moments notice. But some farmers, like Antonio, have more work animals than gear. So his mules usually carry a patch work of gear with sewn reinforcements and little strings that hold everything together. Then, something breaks at a different place and more string is found and woven in place.

I love Antonio. Depending on your definition of love that might sound weird for a guy to say such a thing about another guy who isn't family. Antonio has redefined what friendship is for me, taught me about humility in so many ways, how to be the same person when no one is watching, how to work at a slow steady never ceasing pace and then take a day off completely every now and then (OK, I don't know how to do that yet), how to be stern without raising your voice. I'm serious when I tell Antonio that I want my kids to grow up with his kids and under his watch.

Another thing Antonio has taught me is the how to work with what is at arms length. When we are loading up the mules with firewood, bananas, plantains, tubers, coffee, beans and stuff, he never leaves a 5 foot radius to load up the cargo. He some how finds everything he needs in a 3 step range. A little bit of nylon rope to secure a zeron. Part of a plastic bag to seal a leaky top to a glass bottle with cooking oil. A whole plastic bag to carry uneaten food up for his pigs. It is a beautiful image. Like one of his sons, I'm inspired to help and just like his sons, the scraps I find usually are inferior to Antonio's.

So on Sunday we were talking on the phone. Usual catch up stuff: family, health, any events in the community. The workers workers clearing fields needed to be paid. The money wire was sitting in a bank waiting for Antonio to make the long trip down the hill. He needed to copy down the reference number to withdrawal the money wire. To call him, I use prepaid phone cards and it cost about .25cents a minute. I had run out of them and had to call him direct ($1.50 per minute!). Antonio doesn't get cell service in his house so when he calls me there is no chance for me call him back except immediately. I asked him over the blowing wind and his kids playing in the back ground if he had a pen to write down the reference number. No tengo como notarlo pero puedo escribirlo aqui en el suelo mientras tanto - I don't have a way to write it down now, but I will mark it here in the ground for now. I read him the numbers once, he reads them back to me and didn't miss one. Antonio knows his numbers, and only a few letters. I smile as I write this knowing exactly where he stands when he calls me and where those numbers were marked in that red clay soil in Los Frios.

Before I can teach you how to load a mule I should learn myself. At least be able to do it without having Antonio redo all my ignorant efforts.