San Ignacio, Belize
The Market makes Saturdays one of my favorite days of the week, I love the ambiance and people that are there every weekend. It is just like Canton where the vendors become a family, week after week they spend 6-8 hours together on Saturday mornings and pretty soon they all have a special connection.
My favorite people are the Mennonite ladies from Cool M Farms, since the father has passed they have run their farm and run it well! They make breads, cheeses, jams, muffins, and much more…I bought 5 little muffins for $5BZ and told myself I was going to eat them throughout the day, they were all gone within an hour…oops. They are made with coconut oil rather than butter so it is not as unhealthy as it normally would be, plus they are made with extra love so that cancels out the sugar…(That is what I keep telling myself). They live just across the road from the lodge and said I could come over a day this week and see how they make all of their stuff!
Pro-Organic and The Belize Wellness Institute have a booth set up that focuses on the co-op and the medicinal plant box. The medicinal plant box is a box of 15 plants that all have been used by “Granny Healers”(The natural remedies that elders have been healing with for years) as a way to help the younger generations learn to use the plants to heal. We set up a table for both of these causes to spread awareness on what we are trying to do.
I met a few really inspiring Belizeans, one of them was a teacher from a school in San Ignacio, she is striving to teach her students about organic foods, food safety, the environment, and how to make a living in a healthy way. For me, it was teachers like this in school who made it worthwhile, the ones who know what needs to be taught and wrap the curriculum around the key points rather than just teaching to the test are the teachers that truly make a difference. I am excited to see where this connection will take us, I would love for Grassfed to team up with some schools to help educate young people on the value of a healthy lifestyle.
Another amazing person came by and really blew my mind, an 18-year-old student of UB(University of Belize) that was on track to receive an Agricultural degree. She explained how part of the curriculum was to be out in the fields at Central Farm working on the crops, the school had them spraying toxic pesticides without any protective gear. She and a few other students began showing symptoms of exposure to these chemicals, getting rashes and burns on their skin, as well as beginning to get sick. She mentioned that her mom would even make her change clothes before coming into the house after school every day. When she approached the school to make it known that they were obviously having health problems from the spraying, they disregarded her saying she was crazy and had no reason to quit.
I can’t wait to learn more about this story, it is really frustrating to see that there is not regulation or supervision of these chemicals. College kids are wanting to learn about agriculture and can’t even get through a course without health problems arising. She is going to a farm tour with us on Monday so I am going to learn more about the story and maybe help her get the word out about what is happening to these students.
After the market, Bart and I ended up without a car because Suzi had to take it to Belmopan and there was nobody at the lodge to come pick us up. We decided that taking a taxi may be a little intense with a 6 ft. table and signs from the market, but it was worth a shot. After waiting for a few minutes on the side of the road a taxi stopped and we eventually got the table in, Bart in the back seat, and me hanging my head out of the passenger window leaning under the table that was over my head. We had a good laugh as we rode through downtown San Ignacio, over the bridge through Santa Elena, and up Cristo Rey Road just 3/4 of a mile to the lodge.
After making a salad and finalizing some co-op receipts, I waited for the Jasmin shuttle to take me to Cristo Rey to Mary and Sparkle’s house. I like the adventurous part of not having a ride most of the time, the options are the Jasmin shuttle, San Antonio Bus, or hitchhiking. The hitchhiking idea sounds much more dangerous than it is, it is very common to hop in the back of somebody’s truck and ride to your destination. A few trucks passed but none stopped to pick me up, I saw nobody I knew, and the bus hadn’t passed, finally the Jasmin came by and I hopped in and took it to the end of his route. Once you see the blue house at the end of Cristo Rey, you are at the base of Mary’s driveway. It is about a 20-minute walk up and down a few hills until you finally reach a beautiful orchard and house on the hill.
I love hanging out with Mary and Sparkle because they have the wisdom of older people, but the energy and adventurousness of twenty-year-olds. We worked on getting our potluck dishes ready for Kirtan, walked through the orchard, and I helped Mary out with some computer stuff. Evan came to pick us up around 6 for a fun time of Kirtan and dinner.
The Ashram is such a happy place, every Saturday night regardless of how many people are there, we can come together for a nice meal and peaceful evening. There are always awesome stories told, memories made, and good food eaten. Tonight we had baked casava sticks with pineapple, red and white quinoa with callaloo, carrot salad with Asian seasonings, plantain tostadas, with watermelon, papaya, starfruit, and pineapple. With a glass of Kombucha of course.
As we left, the clouds had dropped so low and the fog was so thick that we could barely see through it. We dropped Mary and Sparkle off then Evan took me back to the lodge, as we ventured through the foggy abyss, we listened to a 2007 Will Smith rap album. Evan never ceases to amaze me with his music versatility and interesting new sounds. I have definitely widened my range musical catalog since I have been hanging around him.
I made it back to the lodge and went straight to bed, Carlos was staying in the staff room with me so we had a good chat before finally passing out. I was far too sleepy to have written this last night, I try to get them done immediately before bed but sometimes it doesn’t happen.
This was a really good day, I made new important contacts and gained some new insights to the pesticide situation.