A visit to San Felipe

11.8 Sabbath

Today we have done nothing, and it’s been great. We made panqueques and spent the afternoon sitting around and talking with our local boys, Enrique and Luka. Enrique is eighteen and Luka sixteen, and both help out as volunteers for ADRA and as friends. They are an important connection in this town because they help us understand the local culture and they also make an important link between the Criollos and the Wichí. 

13.8 San Felipe

 This morning, I went over to Griselda’s house to interview her. I was worried that she wouldn’t talk very much and that I’d have to figure out a way to get her to answer the questions more in depth, but she ended up expounding on her own. I interviewed her in her garden, with rows of arvejas and rabonitas providing a natural backdrop.

I’m trying to interview several Wichí about their experience with ADRA and how the projects are impacting their lives. I have this huge bank of questions to go through, a few about each aspect of the project and their lives: how their family eats, sleeps and works.

Tomorrow, I want to get a long exposure of the sun coming up either over the garden or over the community…probably the community. Then, I need to interview Ana Rosa and Zach, then I need some cooking-over-a-fire shots. 

This afternoon, we ate in the restaurant with the INTA engineer from Oran, Antonio. I had pollo and ensalada…it was strange to eat in a restaurant again. I prefer Tricia’s cooking, anyway. We’ve been cooking from scratch—milanesas, gnocchi, pancakes, pasta sauce…

This afternoon, Tricia, Antonio and I drove to San Felipe, a town about 45 minutes east of Rivadavia, down a dusty dirt road. I should explain the concept of dirt road according to this region. These are not traditional Californian dirt roads. Roads here are suggestions drawn through the sandy soil between cactus plants and scrub trees. Most of them have two tracks for tires and piles of sand between, always decorated by goat feces. Wherever you go, there will be poop, caka, so you get used to stepping on caka, seeing caka, driving on caka, and smelling caka. Goats, cows, dogs, pigs, chickens and burros are the rulers of the land. But once you see the adorable bunch of baby goats running through the town, it’s all okay.

San Felipe is a group of houses clustered around the Anglican church, with a schoolhouse down the road. One of the village leaders met us and immediately hit the road on his moto to notify the town of our arrival. All of the families interested in starting a garden then reported to the schoolhouse, where we held an informational gardening lesson. The engineer explained the process of constructing a garden and detailed the types of plants and the planting seasons.

After the meeting, we visited each of the families’ gardens. Some were ready for planting; others still had trash strew about or lacked a complete fence (made of bare tree branches and trunks, called palos, gathered in the woods.) As we walked around the community on a trail following the water, a group of kids followed along, asking for fotos and generally enjoying the afternoon. The closer we got to the river, the more beautiful the scenery became. It reminded me a lot of the Sacramento River, with sandy soil but green underbrush. 

 Two brothers have a garden on th e other side of the river/lake from the “town”. As we walked towards the river, the older, rickety brother kept urging, “canu! canu!” to me, trying to get me to follow him (follow an old man into the woods? I think not.) but when we got to the shore, there it was: a handmade, one-trunk, genuine dugout canoe! All my Sacagawea childhood dreams came true, and Tricia sang Pocohantas all the way across. When we got to the other side, we found the prettiest place in this area, to be sure: green, tall trees, birds everywhere. A bit of a paradise in our desert! We love our aventura. 


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