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.