Friday, December 18, 2009

Progress is slow in the campo

(Christmas lights in Bogota - hope you can see this.)
But not because of the energy and efforts of all the team: the directors, the support staff and all the workers. Partly it is due to a water shortage, some of it is due to materials not being available, and some of it can be laid at the feet of a certain holiday season. A lot of stores are closed by 5 p.m. where they were open longer in November. This is because many people go to church every night now, preparing for Christmas.

It is quite delightful to hear the excitement in the workers' voices after a night in Barichara attending the 'Novena' party at the Cathedral and every night we have been able to either hear or see fireworks from the town center as everyone gets very excited about the birthday of Baby Jesus because in Colombia there is more focus on the religious aspect of this time and considerably less attention to the more material items - not to say that isn't going on, but it is not as intense as in the U.S. And frankly, out here in the 'campo' (countryside) most of the peasants don't have the resources to buy all that much. But stores run out of some of the essentials more readily now, too, so we have to wait for other deliveries.

Today we gave one of our neighbors a ride when we found him walking back from the 'pueblo' (town). He was grateful to have a ride after working hard all day. Guess what he does? He works in the slaughterhouse, killing animals - cattle, sheep, goats, chickens - to be transported to market. He stank to high heaven and his clothes were full of holes, his straw hat was battered and misshapen and he sat in the car as if he was taking up too much space, pressing himself against the door. But this same fellow brought us two huge bunches of bananas, three enormous papayas and several mangos from his 'finca' (farm) a couple of days ago, to make up for his young son's behavior. (The boy was riding his bicycle through our property on Sunday several times after he had been asked to please ride on the road so we could have some quiet time. We surmised that he must have said something to his father or mother about it and they were disturbed that he wouldn't respect the boundary.)

What impresses me over and over again is how highly valued being respectful of others is taken here - no matter the type of work one does. And it is enjoyable to be living in a place where being honorable isn't based on how much one is earning.

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