Archive for December, 2009

French Intensive

What’s the best thing to do the end of the year?  Start a garden!  Yesterday, we did just that. I’m new to gardening and have  a lot to learn.  Luckily, I’m learning from an expert: Dan.  Dan and his wife Lori have a lot of experience growing organically in Guanajuato. So we’ll be taking their lead and benefitting from their past failures and successes.

We’re going French Intensive, a biodynamic form of gardening that yields a lot of food in a small space. We began by sifting the soil (lots of worms = good sign!) in order to aerate it. Meanwhile, we mixed in some rich, manured soil donated by Dan’s neighbor. Using aerated soil allows the roots to go straight down, instead of breaking out horizontally. In turn, you can place seeds very close together since their roots head south, avoiding their neighbors to the east and west. Additionally, since there are so many plants, there is not enough room for weeds. So if done correctly, French Intensive yields high produce with very little weeding if any.

It took us most of the day to get in one bed. This is an experiment for all of us. One that we’re all looking forward to!

Bethany, Madre Lourdes & Dan. Madre Lourdes is impressed with the soil sifter.

Erik starts a second garden plot.

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Digs & climbs

Bethany, Erik and I are starting a garden today at Buen Pastor. If time and weather permit, we hope to hike the Buffa afterwards and find M.M.

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Mirror mirror

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Bethany and Erik arrive this afternoon!  I’m excited to hike the Buffa with them and explore outside of Guanajuato. I love it when they visit as it’s always action packed and I miss my running partner of 6+ years! They just finished up a 3-day mountain bike tour of the rural towns surrounding Oaxaca. I’m sure they’ll have plenty of stories. Anyway, they’ll be staying at the newly repainted casita, home to many Buen Pastor visitors.

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Piano gone infrared.

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On Christmas Eve, I met a courageous and beautiful woman. She had been in the shelter at one time and had gone through the recovery process at Buen Pastor. She was spending Christmas Eve like I was: with the madres, the women and children, eating tamales the woman had made, drinking atole and Ponche Navideno, and reveling in the company of family.

Her son was as gorgeous and sweet as she was. After talking for a bit, she shared that their doctor gives him two more years to live. He’s 5 and suffers from cystic fibrosis.  I was taken aback as they both seemed so gregarious and happy. I asked her how she copes. She told me that in the beginning, it was very difficult, but because of her son’s strength, she’s ok with it now. She believes her son is her greatest teacher and that she still has more to learn from him before he leaves.

As the evening went on, I admired the women, one by one. Each one so lovely and strong in her own way. Arima was there with her daughters, sharing Christmas Eve with us even though she’s no longer at Buen Pastor. It was good to see Arima and her girls luminous and laughing. There are two new women, both 15 years old, each mother to a small, beautiful child. They giggled with Isabel, a new girl at the internado who has no family to care for her on the weekends. Isabel had been helping with the tamales and watching the little ones all day. She’s gaining self respect as the woman recognize and appreciate her helpfulness.

The biggest surprise was M. When she first came to Buen Pastor, she kept to herself, shied away from everyone, kept her eyes lowered, her shoulders hunched, tried to be invisible, and shrunk back when anyone touched her. Her 1 year old daughter shared many of her characteristics. But on Christmas Eve, she was joking with the madres, talking loudly at the center of the table,  and playing with her daughter who was equally buoyant. I couldn’t believe the transformation.

All the little ones received balls from Madre Lourdes. They lined up at the bottom of the stairs to throw them up, wait for them to come down, and would do it again. We passed around atole and ponche, shared stories, trying to talk above the bouncing balls.  When it was time to leave, I gave all the women a hug, avoiding M so as not to startle her. You can imagine my surprise when she stood in front of me as I turned to leave and said, “Hey, what about me?”

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Seasons Greetings!

Happy Holidays! I’m spending the next couple of days in San Miguel with F’s family. So I’m signing off until then, but not before I wish you peace, joy, and goodwill towards all. I’m excited about 2010 and hope you are too.

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