Life on Slow Living Farm
It wasn’t until the Sunday evening after my arrival in Aticama that the rains started. Then they forgot to stop. Or so it seemed to me. And this wasn’t the gentle light rain that I’m used to going on for days. This was serious rain, accompanied by deep growling thunder and lightning that ripped the sky apart, testing the very foundations. Occasionally there would be a brief interlude, the heavy clouds rising slightly, but the sun was always defeated in it’s attempts to break through, just not enough to stop the temperature rising dramatically, which in its turn started a whole other sequence of events.
With the heat came the humidity, great inescapable swathes of dampness causing the sweat to run blindingly into your eyes, down your back, hands slick, unable to grasp anything with conviction. Taking a cold shower would only make matters worse, so you learn to live with the constant dripping and damp clothes.
Humidity means mosquitoes, and they came in droves. Black ones and blue ones, they descend in a dense dark cloud to engulf you as soon as you step out of the safety of the screened house. Long sleeves and long pants are the order of the day if you have to be outside and even then you’re not safe – a bee-keepers suit would be more appropriate. Consequently most of the work ends up being indoors. Which brings me to....
Mangos! Hundreds of them. The heat and humidity are the perfect environment for their ripening and we can’t keep up. The plump golden fruit are brought to the ground from the tree by gravity’s force and they fall faster than we can pick them. We run around doing our best not to disturb the clouds of insects that rise at our approach, legs and arms flailing at our buzzing, blood sucking assailants in a half crazed dance, all the while filling our baskets with as many mangos as we can carry. The balance have to remain but are surprisingly quickly absorbed back into the ground, completing the circle of life.
Off to the kitchen on the third floor then and the mosquito-free (or relatively) zone to peel and process these glorious sweet gifts from god. All manner of culinary delights are lovingly prepared – ice-cream, juice, jam, cobbler, puree, bread, scones. This happens with the lychees and passion fruit that are also ready in this season. Nothing goes to waste. The peels are thrown from the window onto the best thought out position for a compost heap ever invented – directly three floors below. Whether frozen, dried or just simply eaten straight from the tree, the fruits of our labour are enjoyed by all – and will continue to be in the many months to come.