Whew! A lot happened today. In the last 3 days I think I have eaten about 25 potatoes, cuy (guinea pig) and plenty of barley soup with lamb as well. The final days of the fiesta proved to be mellow (for the most part), at least no fighting. I think it’s time to re-implement a work out plan, cause these potatoes are going straight to the gut. All of us women volunteers know the unfortunate reality, we gain weight, and the boys lose it. Here’s a run down of the nutrition regiment (to be read like a nutrition label, the largest quantities come first):
Potatoes, rice, tea with sugar, some pasta, a little carrot, tomato, peas, avas (lima beans) and chilli, the occasional pumpkin, peach or apple, a little milk here and there, today I saw cheese for the first time ever. We are lacking in protein, thus the guys lose muscle, and overcompensating in carbs, thus the women (at least the ones that don’t exercise enough) gain fat. But it doesn’t have to be this way! First of all, I see green all around me. There are fields everywhere, and garden potential is plenty. I have seen Swiss chard! It exists, as does cabbage, spinach, broccoli, tomatoes, eggplant, and much more. Peru is special because it can grow everything. The fruit stands are bursting with papaya, strawberry’s (this time of year), apple, kiwi, mandarins, oranges, banana, chirimoya (the best fruit after mango), more and more. Yes, some of it is expensive considering the lacking economy out in the rural areas, but that’s were the “bio-huertos” must make their presence. People here consume vegetables as if they were precious commodities, only a little at a time. Looking at some kids faces, I see sad and listless eyes, no vitamins, no protein; these kids aren’t growing to their fullest potential, in more ways than one.
Once a year comes the fiesta and everyone eats, but what about the other 51 weeks of the year? I’d like to put some energy into this. Me, I’m privileged here; I can go to the market, buy my veggies and be happy. But that’s not good enough. I want to grow them myself and share that process. I will learn from my fellow community members about planting, growing, harvesting, but I also hope to teach about what makes a healthy body. Here, the aging process is accelerated, a man of 55 can look about 70, and it’s all down hill from there. One step at a time, like peeling layers of an onion, each day I discover more about the needs and values of the people around me; slowly, the fuzzy edges are coming into focus and what is initially shocking is evolving into deeper understanding.