Education or Compensation? Part 3

Below the earth.

A farmer is one thing. An indigenous is another. They might develop activities that are similar, but while for ones this remains merely a survival method, for the others it is the way they relate to everything else. Starts with Nature and goes through universes of times and ages. A farmer lives in something that seems to me a modern-traditional way. Stretched from a very long time ago until this complicated present. They sure use a mobile phone and have their favorite ringtones while being proud of their traditions, urban traditions, if I could put it that way: Those which survived and further developed after and because the colonization.

My mind was absorbed in those thoughts when we arrived to Arenales. Don Isidoro was there “ripiando el maiz” in a small parcel just next to the riverside. Arenales was an old village flooded by the Misque River some 18 years ago during a summer of constant heavy raining. All the houses were covered by water and torn apart. It was a developed village with educative center and a shop. All was gone in the time frame of two days. People ran away and started to look for land closer to Moro Moro, in higher places like Sahuintal, for instance.

Don Isidoro lives up the mountains in Sahuintal, but these years there are pieces of parcels available down the river in what was left of Arenales when the river recovered its original limits, some 35 meters away. So Don Isidoro goes there a few times a year to keep care of his meager crops. This time he was ripping the corn and helped the landlord to harvest his potatoes.

When I asked him the first time what he thought about the need for education in conservation subjects to people in the countryside. He looked at me as if telling me that I needed to repeat the question, which I was then about to do when he started to answer.
– You smoke, don’t you? He said making himself more direct to me.
– Yes, I do. I answered to him, improvising new words for a new answer.
– You know it’s not good, don’t you? I had a drag while I was listening to him.
– Yes, I know. It’s written in every package.
– You know it might be killing you, don’t you? He asked with a small insistence on the top of his sweet voice.
– Of course, I said. It’s one of the worst things I do to myself, I added further. He looked at me in silence, I would say he was holding a laugh, but he was not, he was only looking at me.

I had the last smoke of my cigarette and did what I do with every cigarette end when I’m in the field: I smash out the last piece of lighted tobacco, I toss it on the ground and step on it so it disperses and goes off. I put the empty piece of filter inside my pocket. Later, when I’m back in the city, I get rid of all of them in a “proper” trash-bin. Somehow lately I’ve been having the impression that those cigarette buts will end up anyway some place near, probably a couple of hours far from where I wasn’t tossing it this time, out there in the mountains.

4 Responses to “Education or Compensation? Part 3”

  • Marijke:

    Hi Rodrigo!
    How are you?
    I just read your blog about Don Isidoro. Do I understand it right that Don Isidoro knows conservation is necessary, it will be in the long run more healthy and beneficial for the community, but… he feels he can’t do anything about it? He feels he has to do the way he has always done his farming although he knows things have to change?
    Love from Amsterdam,
    Marijke

    • Rodrigo:

      Hi Marijke… thanks for replying and sorry for the delay in answering…. it is all together as you say, and as Don Isidoro does. The conversation about the cigarette is not only illustrative, it was real, it did happen as I wrote it. The thing is not if we know or do not know; because we actually know, “we” meaning all of us, Bolivian farmers and farmers around the world as well as citizens from cities big or not so big. We know what is right. The issue here is weather we are actually willing of going for it. Do we have any option, alternatives? We all know smoking is wrong, then, why don’t I stop? Even with smooth fixings like not throwing the cigarette but to the forest ground, the whole harm that I’m doing by smoking a cigarette from a package that has been fabricated in a complex industrialized system (the filter, the paper, the treatment to the tobacco itself, the package, advertising and so on) is still going on. And further on, I’m not stopping the main and most hurting thing: the act of smoking. Which is harm to myself in the first place. What do you think?

  • Odaly:

    Yo creo que somos cómodos y no nos gustan los cambios, eso es por naturaleza…

    Soy boliviana, de Santa Cruz, pero hace algunos años dejé mi país. Me ha encantado y conmovido todas las aventuras que haz tenido en todos los pueblos que haz visitado, he vivido en algunos de ellos y tus historias me han traído recuerdos muy buenos.

    He comprendido el shock que habrás experimentado de vivir en el primer mundo a vivir en los pueblos de Bolivia. A mi me ha sucedido todo lo contrario, yo he vivido experiencias similares a las tuyas en Bolivia, pero para mi eran como el pan de cada día, eran la vida misma, nada extraordinario, mosquitos, calor, viento con polvo, buses repletos de gente, de lo más normal. Y entendí muy bien cuando le ofreciste el repelente al chofer en una de tus aventuras, y la sonrisa que te devolvió, porque yo hubiese hecho lo mismo que el chofer. He conocido los dos mundos, y debo decir que hay una distancia enorme para poder comprendernos. A veces no me resigno a cómo la gente vive en este primer mundo; pero no hay nada que pueda hacer y sigo la corriente…

    • Rodrigo:

      Hola Odaly… gracias por tus comentarios y gracias por compartir tus ideas… Efectivamente es un poco el mismo shock ir del 1o al 3er mundo o viceversa. Tengo que decirte que yo soy mexicano, asi que no toda mi vida he vivido en el 1er mundo, y tampoco he estado toda mi vida el el 3ero, conozco pues un poco de todo, como tu. La forma en la que escribo y cuento estas historias es precisamente para darle ese tono un poco fantastico a las vivencias que suceden aca y que no suceden en Europa, por ejemplo, y que para mucha gente, ese torzon resulta muy sorpresivo. En fin, creo que si que somos comodos y que no nos gustan los cambios, solo que pienso que no es por naturaleza, sino por educacion. Nos han enseñado demasiado acerca de la estabilidad y el conservadurismo y para mi es eso lo que no nos permite ver la necesidad de hacer las cosas diferentes. Por eso lo primero que tenemos que cambiar es la forma en la que entendemos nuestra presencia en este planeta, que es justamente, creo, lo mas dificil, si no imposible, sobre todo en estos tiempos de crisis donde toooodo el mundo nomas quiere defender y conservar lo propio. En fin, te mando un abrazo y un saludo cordial a donde sea que te encuentres, no dejes de visitar esta plataforma y comentar, ya sea en el blog o en los videos, hacen falta voces bolivianas por aqui. Gracias de nuevo y mucha suerte. Te deseo mucha luz para este año que empieza.

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