Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Almolonga, Guatemala...the fruits of their labor, or vegetables rather

I have written this blog three times and lost much of it, as the computers here are slow and nothing seems to be compatible with my thumb drive, my photos, or cutting and pasting. So, here is the shortened version:

We took a 6km trek over a little mountain pass from Xela to Almolonga, a little, rich puebla, which also happens to be mostly Evangelical Christian. It was Sunday and naturally the town was having a huge, colorful, loud religious celebration. Why though, is it so rich?

Well, it is one of the main vegetable producers not only in Guatemala, but also for El Salvador. The soils are rich from ash and volcanic debree from millions of years ago. And, the farmers practice good crop rotation. Beans, carrots, radishes, green beans, lettuce, garlic, onions, potatoes, and other vegetables of which I'm still learning the names. And other vegetables of which I know the name, but don't feel it necessary to list every single one. You get the point.

And, despite my 60 SPF sunblock, baby sunblock I might add, I still got sunburned.
We went though, for the swimming. Despite the hot springs that surround the area, the two swimming pools are a Sunday ritual for many Almolangas. There are picnic tables, bbq's, a little restaurant that sold snacks, changing areas, bathrooms and many locals.
You'll notice the women at the table wearing all similar colors. In Guatemala each pueblo in famous for a unique weave pattern. So if you study really hard, you might be able to tell where a group is from just by the clothes they are wearing.
The farmer above it watering his fields with grid-like irrigation. I call it the shovel-heaving method for watering.

Another discussion that came up during this weekend activity was the fact of gender roles and the absence of women's rights. Very few women were swimming. They were taking care of the babies, cleaning, preparing and cooking the food while the men relaxed and swam. And even if the women wanted to swim, the men most likely wouldn't let them. So, there you have it. A patriarchal society with clearly defined gender roles. Interesting to say the least. Gives you a lot to think about...

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