I’ve been looking over my blog and have realized that I have mentioned a lot of the big things that have gone on around here, but many of the little, ordinary details of daily life are sorely lacking. So, without further ado, here are some glimpses of daily life!
a. Roots and rice are the most common staples of daily life. Every meal consists of some type of ñame or yuca, along with rice and liga- some sort of topping for the rice. This topping could be fried fish, chicken, meat, eggs or even turtle. My favourite is fried fish with coconut rice.
b. Juice is served with every meal. Normally, it is a delicious fresh fruit juice like mango or guava, but I am learning the extent of juice making here extends far beyond fruit to the likes of spaghetti and sweet potato.
c. If there is dessert, it is usually some sort of brown mush made out of a fruit or root, boiled down with sugar, cinnamon and cloves, served on crackers.
d. Vegetables besides tomatoes and onions are not very popular. Salad is mainly optional.
a. Surprisingly, there is no snow here. Instead, I was told that Mampuján has two seasons: dust and mud. This is true. When it is raining, which is considered to be winter, it rains ferociously for about two hours a day, every day, resulting in muddy streets and moldy clothes. But the green countryside is stunning! In summer, which really means absence of rain, which this year took place from about December to April, everything is dry and dusty. And hot. Temperatures are usually in the mid 30s.
b. I wear sunblock and shower every day, which is considered a little bit dirty compared to the three or four times a day everyone else bathes.
When it rains, there is water. Nobody has potable water and I live in one of the few houses that actually has running water, even if it is very dirty. During winter, every time it rains, we all collect water in giant buckets and use it for drinking and cooking. In the summer, most of peoples’ time is spent trying to find water, whether going to the few community wells with clear water or the creek. Hardly anyone has the resources necessary to buy water from the store.
Tradition consists of going from home to home trying to eat as much food (coconut rice with black beans, three color salad and turtle) as possible while listening to impossibly loud Vallaneto music. I was told to drink less water because that will give me the ability to eat more. I only managed to eat two of the recommended five meals of the day. It must have been an excess of water consumption on my part.
a. Moto, bus, moto, taxi, foot. Bike or donkey. There really are no other options and no one owns their own vehicle. In order to get from Sincelejo, where I have meetings at the Sembrandopaz office about once a month, to Mampuján, I first must take a moto to the bus station, where collective vans leave to go to San Onofre. I wait until the van is full, while trying to avoid buying watches, cookies, pop, cell phone covers or music video dvds. Once the van is full, and I mean FULL, we take off down the “in some parts paved and in others not so much” road for about two hours, windows open and music blaring. At San Onofre, I cross the highway and wait for the Maria la Baja bus, which can take from five mintues to an hour to arrive. I use this time to chat with the bus stop man and eat banana chips. When the bus finally arrives, it’s another half hour journey and then a five minute walk and I am home.
b. One option that is always an adventure is Sembrandopaz’s tin-can van. Suffice to say that it at one point hit a donkey and at another point broke down three times at the side of the road in the middle of the night, resulting in a journey that included hitchhiking in giant vegetable trucks and attempted jump starts on downhill curves.
a. Besides the children running up and down the streets and in and out of my house, there are numerous encounters to be had with all sorts of animal life, most of them unfortunately taking place inside my house. There are always pigs wandering by, wallowing in some sort of sewage water and continuing on their hunts for grubs and vegetable peelings. Every once and a while, they chase a chicken. Chickens which I constantly am also chasing out of my house. Every time I have the door open, a herd (gaggle? posse?) try to come in. I am measuring my time here by watching piglets and chicks grow up and get eaten.
b. I have so far discovered two mice nests in my house, which is amazing when you think about how small my house is.
c. Every type of insect or reptile you can think of, besides dinosaurs, also lives or tries to live in my house. A snake crawled under my door and was promptly beaten to death by an 80 year woman with a metal pipe. (I was later told it was not poisonous- the snake, not the lady). Last night, a frog the size of a hiking boot, but with more spring, bounded into the corner by my closet. It was followed by another frog the size of a twoonie, but not as flat. I turned my back for one moment and the small frog was gone. I am assuming the worst.
d. There are spiders everywhere and I am slowly developing an immunity to mosquito bites. Ants are nature’s best cleaners and I am amazed by how much they can lift. However, their recent fascination with living in my bed is a little too much for me.
a. Mexican soap operas, Yo Me Llamo (Colombian American Idol), and staring in my window are popular pastimes. I live in a small town where everybody knows everybody. Therefore, anything out of the ordinary, like anything I might do, is the subject of much discussion.
b. Going swimming in the creek and going to the plaza in Maria la Baja are also both excellent options to pass the time.
For a more analytical look at Mampuján, feel free to peruse a community assessment on the Seed website. While on the website, check out some of the other Seeder’s communities. We are all regularly posting about our life and work, with fascinating results. Also, feel free to post any questions you may have in the comments section.