I have decided to make of list of at least one good, or perhaps just random, thing that happens to me every day. It will help me to remember some of the small details of what happens here and also give me something to be thankful for. As well, this will help the rest of you see a few more glimpses into my daily life. If I do not post something at the end of each month, remind me to do so!
So, here goes. This is only for half of May, as I only started recording on May 19
May 19: An MCC learning delegation composed of university students from the States arrives to visit Mampuján and Mampuján Viejo. Some of them are black, which is very surprising to many of the Mampuján youth, who assume that everyone in North America looks like me. Jes, the Seed coordinator arrives to stay the weekend. We make brownies!
May 20: Jes calls an official meeting to talk about my work and people say very nice things. We revise my work plan and I feel a little bit more like I actually have things to do in the community, including working on a community newspaper and formally recording community history. Mango coffee cake for breakfast!
May 21: Baby turtles! Some of the turtles from the commemoration managed to survive long enough in the backyard to secretly lay eggs, two of which have hatched into the cutest turtles in the whole world! (update-there are now two small turtles lost somewhere in Juana’s house)
May 22: Good conversation with a couple of my neighbours. There has been a real change in my level of relationship with many community members as my time has progressed. People are willing to open up a lot more and share about their lives and give me the chance to share about mine too.
May 23: I noticed people using sticks to grab fruit off a tree in my neighbour’s yard. I wandered over to see what they are doing and they promptly gave me two passion fruits or maracuyá right off the tree! I made the best juice!
May 24: After a frantic phone call from Juana, a community leader and a teacher in a nearby community, I head off to her school to take pictures of her students as they display traditional food during an event to celebrate AfroColombianism. Everyone wants their pictures taken! As well, I was proud to see a little bit of Canadian culture displayed, as I had previously taught the class how to make vegan chocolate cake and mango coffee cake, and they had prepared those for the festival as well!
May 25: The ministry of Agriculture comes to have a long, boring meeting with the Mampuján sewing group, which will hopefully turn into an exciting project. However, during a break in the meeting, many of the women remark on how talkative and warm I am with them and that they like visiting with me. This makes me feel great, as I often feel like I am still struggling with language and often still don’t know how to relate to their very different life of children and housework.
May 26: A very long women’s church service that makes me angry as woman are blamed for whatever goes wrong in their houses, with their husbands and their families. However, at the end, I get invited to speak at a woman’s conference in August, which I am very excited about. Eat sopa de mondongo. Give my meat to Juana.(Read more about soup in Mampuján here.) Spend the evening hanging out with Juana and Alex, my neighbours, helping write emails, put together forms, and other basic office tasks. Alex is studying to finish high school, so I help him find diagrams of respiratory systems from everything from worms to humans. In between tasks, we talk and laugh.
May 27: Give a very quick reflection which I don’t think was very understandable at an event for women and children who receive subsidies from Accion Social. But then I got to hang out with them all afternoon and eat coconut rice and drink mango juice. Plus, my six year neighbour decides to wash my floor.
May 28: At least four meetings take place at almost the same time concerning different parts of the process of community reparations. I think I picked the best one, as I get to hear community leaders reflect on the process and events in the past 20 years that have brought them to this point. We drink apple flavoured pop and I feel honoured to get to live here and hear their stories.
May 29: A fellow Seeder, Will, comes to give a presentation to Juana’s students and some adults about basic business accounting for the bakery project we want to start. We managed to stretch 20 minutes worth of material into two hours, as everybody’s next classes were cancelled so they could have more time with us. Everyone was really excited expect for the student who kept on falling asleep in the front row. And for me, any time I get to see another Seeder is a great day!
May 30: This day involved a lot of communication failures, which wasn’t so great. What was great was going to someone’s house to invite them to a meeting and then having them jump up, chop a coconut off a tree, hack it open with a machete and give it to me to drink. Of course, I promptly sprayed myself in the eye with the coconut milk, but it was delicious.
May 31: Went to an event in San Onofre celebrating AfroColombianidad and a forum about the importance of creating community councils, a right given to Afro communities here in Colombia. The forum did not actually provide the information I was looking for, but it was great to be at a giant event and not play any part in planning or running it! Things started late and I did not have to worry at all about what was going on. Sheer bliss! Then I got to go home and ask people about their dreams for the future for a project. I love listening to people’s plans and that they are willing to share them with me.