My Time in Tinum: parte tres

the third and final part in the trilogy that is my time in tinum has finally been published. communal sigh of relief after all of this built up anticipation, i'm sure! and just in time for my upcoming weekend in tulum. ha. don't panic, our tulum trip is jam-packed full of nothing but snorkeling and free time [and we're not staying with a host family...] so i may or may not even have anything to say about it! but it's me. she who fries in  the moonlight, sinks instead of swims, is terrified of fish and other slimy sea creatures... so there will probably be stories. glamorous ones.


a good portion of our weekend in tinum was focused on mayan agriculture [and with the announcement having been made that this post is focused on agriculture, it will probably be pretty short and sweet! because agriculture is not my expertise. i just ooh and ahh and photograph and itch my mosquito bites]. we studied it a little in our understanding contemporary mexico class the week before, so this was our chance to bring our readings and discussions to life and compare our experiences to what we read.

our walk thorough town on friday night led us to an organic garden. a university in the area partnered up with the school system in tinum and together they're growing an organic garden to promote healthy eating and environmental awareness. there are a few women who tend to the garden in exchange for all the fruits and vegetables they want to take/eat/sell. in this garden they grew everything - from bananas, papayas, and tomatoes to beans, herbs and flowers. i was honestly perplexed at how anything grew in the rocky terrain and dry, red soil. it amazes me that something so "different" from what i'm accustomed to can produce ultimately the same results. the main theme of this trip right there, i tell you what.
we spotted a very rare bird of the tropics -- the blue-crowned motmot
a papaya so big it's almost disgusting.
saturday morning we went and toured a man named don fonso's milpa, or cornfield, and learned the process of growing and harvesting corn -- all by hand. we then got to try it out for ourselves. if all else fails, i think milpa-ing and i could have a real future!
the altar built at the entrance of the milpa to welcome the milpa gods and watch over and protect don fonso's land
yes, you're seeing right. these are the corn stalks [forgive me for my lame usage of farming terminology? my grandpa would be ashamed] from which the farmers get their corn. they wait until the ears are extremely dry and then handpick them all, one by one. after shucking [? here i go again] them right then and there, they toss the four-or-so inch long hard little cob of corn over their shoulder into the basket hanging down their backside from their forehead, modeled below by yours truly.

how they do not have serious neck issues, i will never know.
don fonso does not look impressed with my skills
don fonso's farming partner in crime [whose name i do not recall and therefore shall remain nameless] threw this basket over my head, shoved a serious stabbing knife in my right hand [i'm a lefty...] and was hurrying me through the dirt and twigs, handing me dried up ears of corn and motioning that i needed break them open and  keep moving. nameless had to think i was some sort of ignoramus, because, you see, the right side of my body is practically dysfunctional. i can't even wave with my right hand without looking like i'm just in the middle of an intense twitch. so i was standing there, knife clutched in my right hand [with a tight leather rope around my wrist that i could not remove, because every time i tried, nameless wiggled it back down before i could break free], ear of corn in the other, and after staring at it for a good minute, i attempted what was a slow-motion stab at the corn to break open the dried.. papery stuff. after i missed the first couple of times, nameless finally swiped the stabber from me in annoyance and proceeded to demonstrate how to cut paper with a sharp object. so, to save my image, i started yelling at him in english [because yelling a foreign language at someone makes them understand it?] DOES THIS NEED TO BE IN MY DOMINANT HAND!? BECAUSE I AM NOT RIGHT HANDED! and then i try "yo escribo con mi mano izqierdo!" [i write with my left hand] and he looked at me like, do you want a high five? and i turned to my chilean professor and asked her to translate and before she got it out someone ripped the milpa tools out of my belonging and my turn was over.
 after we collected the corn cobs, we took them over to a shaded area, laid a large tarp on the ground, and knelt around the tarp, using our hands to break off the corn kernels into a pile in the center. we used a few of those kernels to practice planting the seeds by taking a large spear and stabbing a hole into the ground in one hand while collecting 5 kernels of corn in the other hand and then tossing the kernels in the hole, covering it up, and moving a meter away to dig the next hole. and repeat. and repeat. you get the idea.

once the kernels are removed they're brought home with the men and used to make tortillas [homemade corn tortillas equals yum] and food. nothing goes to waste.

our last group learning experience of the weekend was saturday evening in a small pueblo called loop xul [pronounced lope shool]. we watched and helped in the process of making woven baskets -- cut long vines from a forest floor, boil them, peel them, and then weave. it was a tedious task but worth it in the end - the final products were absolutely beautiful. the people we met during out weekend in tinum work so unbelievably hard for everything they have, and i admire them for that. it makes me think differently of the times i've just had things handed to me or not been as appreciative of something as i should. it also inspires me to put more effort into everything i do, because in the end it will make having it that much sweeter.

and that, my friends, concludes the my time in tinum trilogy. i hope i was able to bring this trip to life for you, wherever it is that you are. it was a memorable experience, to says the least!

to read part one, click here.
to read part two, click here.

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