Friday, April 24, 2009
Many months ago (more than I care to admit have passed) I wrote an email to people who inspire courage-accountability-inquiry-confidence-resistance. Honduras in January felt to be unfamiliar territory. What’s familiar tonight: a cat named “Tito” rests a chin on my thigh ignoring music from the neighbor’s place. Anna, my roommate, is gone for a few days and the men who run a metal shop permit their tools a little rest. Sporadic water is a great excuse for skipping showers, though my feet would be confused for a welcome mat worn with serious dust stains.
It’s neither a personal narrative nor an exposition of my work that I intend for this blog, but maybe it helps to contextualize the person in the place. I arrived to news that my host project dissolved due to funding issues, forcing a reconsideration of my research proposal. Over the following weeks I visited communities and accompanied an extension agent working on family gardens and a transitional cash crop called maracuya. I moved to Yuscarán, a beautiful town that sits on ridges surrounded by 19 aldeas and close to the University of Zamorano where I keep an office. Time ran away and everything felt unsettled against the backdrop of a very structured grant proposal laden with mountains of data collection that wasn’t being collected. But it took that time for my priorities and purpose to focus.
Honduras, by identity and survival, is a farming country. Where the U.S. is experiencing a burgeoning local food movement (maybe an idealistic characterization), supermarkets and food imports owned by Wal-Mart are increasingly indispensable in the Honduran diet. Let’s not ignore that Honduras is a historical marker for the agro-industrial sector credited to American companies' export of bananas from the north coast to U.S. homes starting in the 1880’s with dependable service to present-day U.S. consumers even during winter blizzards. The majority of rural workers who do not migrate to free-trade zones (that are also “free” of paying their employees the recently increased minimum wage), depend on the land for basic staples like beans and corn. Sometimes I put my head against the wall thinking about all the factors involved in making farming a sustainable livelihood here (oh what a list), and then I tell my head to be quiet for a minute and get to work.
It may never be simple, but we move along: over the course of the next eight months I’ll provide more detail on the livelihood research I’m conducting in an aldea called Tablones, the community garden at the school, the food cycle project in Yuscaran, and CIAL farmer groups who were the disappeared program that recently reappeared (yay!).
You are kind beyond measure to read such a long blog entry. To solve this problem I promise to secure an editor (with a dark red pen) and post more pictures. Hold me to that promise.