Sunday, April 27, 2008

Oy, but life gets busy sometimes

Well, i've just come through a rather crazy-busy stretch that included moving house, living outta boxes, watching my partner's belly expand with new life, volunteering with the Toronto Community Development Institute which just ended (rather successfully, if i don't say so myself), a number of contracts including an "ending poverty" popular education curriculum (that you'll be able to download from this website later this week) and numerous other activities. So, once again, blogging has been difficult to keep up with. So here's a wee tale i penned some time ago about something that happened almost 25 years ago. I still can't tell this story without crying - it still feels like it happened yesterday:

The Potato

While in the mountains of Nicaragua, surrounded by war, I chose to make a rather treacherous journey to the nearest city. We were bringing the harvested and washed coffee beans to the central location for further processing. And we were also picking up food for the community of refugees that we were working with. We were camped on top of a mountain with many of the campesinos from the surrounding valleys. The mountain top was defensible and safe. We made the 50 kilometer journey to Condega, traded our coffee beans for sacks of potatoes and journeyed back. We came upon one patrol of contras who took aim at us and fired as we sped away. This raised the value of the potatoes for me in a unique way. So later that night when a young girl of a family I’d befriended came to my tent with a hot potato, my first thought was that she was trying to unload the undesirable nightshade on the unsuspecting gringo. I saw those potatoes as an all-too-precious source of nutrition and one that I had risked my life for. There was no way I was going to let this five-year-old neglect her health. I accepted the potato graciously but took her and the potato back to the family. I tried to explain politely that their daughter was trying to avoid eating her potato but I was told quickly that I had misunderstood. They had sent the potato to me as thanks for having made the risky journey that day. Touched and a little broken-hearted (though in a good way) I thanked them for the precious gift and returned to my tent to enjoy, very deeply, the best potato I ever ate.

2 comments:

Laura Reinsborough said...

What a beautiful story!

It's a good thing you waited 25 years to tell it, since the universe is presently aligned: it's the UN-designated International Year of the Potato!

J'net AyAy Qwa Yak Sheelth Cavanagh said...

I treasure you reading me this story the other night - no matter how married we have become - you'll always be a cherished life long friend...

I admire not only the courage the story speaks of soooo many years ago... I admire the courage to share this story with everyone - potatoes will forever have more taste for me.... xoxoo your Mrs.... J'net