Every once in a while Carlos asks that we come and help him out on his farm. As far as i know its almost always about clearing land. It never really sounded all that interesting, especially at 5-6 in the morning. But in the words of the legendary Palo "you can be comfortable at home" and he´s right, being here isn´t about being comfortable- its about growth.
So i decided to man up and go out with the rest of the crew one morning- it was so much more fun than i had imagined it would be. Like so many of my adventures here it began with a bumpy ride in the back of a truck.
Carlos´dog was with us in the bed and he was, well, eager to attack everything. He almost jumped out a few times, but we blocked him. Unfortunately for Dory that meant getting bit. No skin was broken or anything though.
From the mountain side we could see the town sleeping underneath heavy blankets of cloud.
We followed Carlos as he power walked to his plot. Along the way he stopped to show us things, to explain what the different plants were. His land was much bigger than i origianlly thought it was, he owns the whole mountain top- its been passed down through 9 generations. I can´t even fathom anything in the states going for 9 generations, let alone 3. Have we even been there that long?
With machettes in hand we scaled his steep plot to clear it out. It dawned on me only half way through that i was literally engaged in slash and burn farming. Just about everything i ever learned in liberal-ville USA told me that this was wrong. But it was Carlos´land and Carlos´ choice.
I later suggested to him that he look into permaculture, he seemed interested, but probablly not enough to go do get into it on his own. No, it will take some enthusiatic, perma-knowledgable volunteer to move him in that direction. I wish i knew more and had more time, i´d love to be that person ( i secretly want to stay here forever).
Christine giving it a good whack. She was really into it.
Dory in a characteristic laid back stance, perhaps checking out the awesome view. She peetered out on the whole slashing business pretty quickly. Sorry to blow your cover Dory.
And here is some of that view:
The team putting on their "tough face."
Looking up at Carlos´bean patch (this is where we had slept on our camping trip).
We were all really excited to see Carlos´personal bomba, though it lacked the bici we were expecting. It has the attachments for a bike, but can also be done by hand. Not sure what the advantage is. Maybe because its simpler- less parts, less to break, less to fix.
Carlos´corn, which actually goes on forever.
The ride back down was just as exciting as the way up. With no room to turn around Carlos just backs down the whole way, while we balance on top of corn and wood piles. Not to mention the crazy dog.
Maya Pedal is an organization located in San Andreas Itzapa, Guatemala that designs and fabricates bici-maquinas (bike machines) for distribution to rural Guatemalan farmers and workers. The mission of the organization is to "contribute to the conservation of the environment, the health of the Guatemalan people and the productivity of the local economy."
Its a terrific place to volunteer at- we highly recommend it! To find out more about volunteering, please contact one of us. Our emails are listed below.
You can also visit their website for more information: