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Hard Times For Everyone

Sarah Faegre | Oct 04, 2008


February 2nd
11:30 a.m.

Rolando and Lurdes spent the non-rainy hours of yesterday gathering loads of dirt from termite mounds and hauling them back to the house in the ox-cart.  Then we all shoveled loads of dirt around the flooding corners of the house and onto the flooded floor of the galpón.  Tension is running high at Encanta as bit by bit all the family's food runs out and the rising water puts their house and animals in danger.  For almost a week they have had no sugar or flour, which are normally two of the staples out here.  Their bi-monthly food delivery was due on January 15th and the "encargado" (man in change, directly below the landowner) is incommunicado at Esperanza.  It is the job of the encargado to coordinate the delivery of food and see to the needs of the people working the land.  Rolando and Lurdes are frustrated that he didn't get the food delivered on time, or before the flood made the delivery more complicated than ever before.  Now the 2-month supply of food will have to be brought by boat, since the water is too high for the ox cart. 

The family has run out of everything except rice, lard and charque (dried meat).  But in a day or two the rice and charque will be gone too.  We have also used up most of the project food that Steve and I brought.  We have enough beans and lentils for one meal of each, but all the rice, noodles, sugar, honey and canned food we brought is gone.  We have 6 packs of crackers left.  Luckily there is still corn and bananas in the chaco-the family's garden island, 20 minutes by horse through the flooded pampas.  Of course there are plenty of chickens and pigs to kill if necessary. 

Bad news for the macaw family as well.  When I climbed, the day before yesterday, I found one of the eggs smelling rotten and looking opaque.  The macaws seem restless, although the female is certainly still incubating, as if at least one of the eggs were alive.  This afternoon I will climb again if the rain stops.

5:45 p.m.

I am at the blind, writing with a headlamp because with the stormy weather it is as dark as night.  The water just keeps rising and rising.  It is starting to enter the house and Rolando and Lurdes are very worried.  The blind, which luckily is on higher ground, is trying to become an island and will succeed if this rain keeps up for a few more days.  Today it rained for 8 hours, almost without stopping.  The new path that Steve found and hacked through the bromeliads is now boot-flooding high and not much better than the original path.  When I was helping Lurdes in the kitchen today she looked outside and sighed deeply.  "This rain makes me think things," she said. 
"Like what?" I asked.
"Like the people at Esperanza really don't care about us.  No one has come here to check on us.  They know we have no food and that the flood waters are rising and they can't even be bothered to attend the radio."  She confided that she wished they could leave.  "But anyways, there's no way to get out," she said.  Then, almost as an afterthought she said, "But it will be really sad when the rice is gone.  Then it will just be meat, meat, meat."