The last two weeks at the Mariposa have been thought provoking to say the least. We just had our first tropical storm – Alma was its name – ie not so serious as a hurricane but pretty bad nonetheless. The effect in this locality was mostly rain – 24 hours of non-stop tropical downpour, makes me worry especially when I am in bed at night! that the entire building is going to be washed away and I am always surprised to emerege and find the structure still more or less in place. The rain sounds particularly loud because of the zinc roof – you would think I would be used to it by now……Fortunately we planted our seeds after the worst of the downpours, and I have now, thanks to Marlena the gardener, discovered the system that is used here of banking up the earth and then making little channels across it so the excess water runs away without taking the seeds with it! So we are hoping not to lose too many this time – having planted loads of different types of lettuce (yum), brocoli, herbs, peppers, etc and we are going to make another separate garden for the many kinds of squash seeds which I have been sent…..
Back to the storm for a moment – it is of course a little scary to say the least that storms are already hitting in May that really should not be here until Octrober. Ismael, who was on duty here during the worst of the rain, commented that the resaon we did not get the high winds here is that we still, have some lovely (my word!!!) big trees acting as breakers – yet another reason to continue with our reaforestation efforts…..and I am also very grateful that my neighbors haven’t completely denuded their land so we dont get massive erosion around here. There was some serious flooding – San Marcos, Jinotepe, Masaya were all on the TV news with flooded streets and houses but the worst hit were towns on the Pacific coast which got strong winds as well as the rain. It was heartbreaking watching pictures of children and elderly folk being carried out of their homes in the barrios of Managua by the army – as Guillermina says “why do the poorest always seem to get hit the hardest”!!!!! Answers on a postcard please…..
The other big news is of course the ongoing food prices crisis – I am sure everyone has noticed prices going up but imagine the effect when you already spend 80% of your income on food…..thanks to long term factors such as the outrageous agricultural subsidies in the US and Europe which have put many a “Third Wolrd” farmer out of business and now, on top of all of that, is this unspeakably unjust (I cannot find words strong enough) favouring of bio-fuels over the production of food. ENCA (Environmental Network for Central America) says;
The case of Guatemala, a country targeted for big biofuels production, is an exampple of what is happening in the region. Ten years ago it was self sufficient in food production…..Sugar cane (for biofuel production) increased by 99% from 1990 to 2005 while …beans , corn and wheat – basic food staples – decliened dramatically; beans by 26%, corn by 22% and wheat by 99%.
And the same is happening, albeit somewhat more slowly in Nicaragua. Thank goodness some of the nastier capitalists of the world still believe this beautiful little country is run by a bunch of socialists (oh,were it only the case!!!) and so don’t like to “invest” here. How can we put the needs of the West to transport itself hither and thither – often without a thought for the consequences – above the lives of Marlena, Ismael and their children, And they, of course are at present anyway the lucky ones with incomes to still be able to buy food.
However, I remain optimistic. The mariposa is flourishing, there is so much happening here that it will need another blog……a less polemic one I promise!!!