Holy Frijoles (that’s pronounced “free-ho-lays”)! It was another busy day of bean deliveries. Today we visited the community of La Llanes in the morning and Alejandría in the afternoon.
La Llanes is by far one of the poorest communities in Berlín. While they have a community group, like a community board, it hasn’t been officially recognized yet by the government of Berlín. So unlike many other communities they don’t have a certified Directiva. And a Directiva is what non-governmental organizations (NGOs) like to work with because it requires a certain level of organization. Therefore, La Llanes isn’t able to receive a lot of help from the government or NGOs that often work in the communities.
We left for La Llanes this morning to deliver beans to 16 families in the community. It’s always an adventure going to the community because of the crazy roads and the incredible view. The corn growing in the fields was much taller than we were last there. It was also a lot harder to see the road as we drove into town. When we arrived we were greeted by several people in the community. Augustina, the mother and grandmother to everyone, was there with big hugs. They helped unload the beans from the truck in the main community get-together area.
Then a couple of the little girls took me over to the kitchen area where Carmen is always cooking something. After warm greetings and long embrace she told me that the community was making food for us from the elote (sweet corn) they had. We were going to have elote straight off the cob, atol, riguas, and tamales. Wow! What an unexpected treat! Ever since the first day we visited La Llanes we have always been greeted with love, open arms, and food. Even though the people don’t have a lot of material things I always feel like they give us so much.
I played with the kids for a while inside the small kitchen and chatted with Carmen as she cooked the atol. She had put two ears of elote next to the fire to toast for us to eat. Soon Marleny showed up with baby Josué. He sat on the floor and played with the other kids while Marleny ground more corn to make riguas. Several people came by to drop off more elote and tamales. I was glad that I didn’t eat breakfast that morning because there was going to be a lot of food.
Then Carmen sent me to get the Pastoral Team, Kathy, Nancy, and Sue so we could start eating. We all sat and ate elote together. We gave some of the elote to the kids since there was no way we could eat it all ourselves. When Carmen finished making the atol she served some to everyone. It was thick and delicious. Atol de elote is my favorite kind of atol. Next we ate the riguas that Marleny had made for us. They were also wonderful and I could tell that Marleny had added oil to them which gives them a slightly different taste. Then Carmen got out the tamales. By then we were all getting full (corn is very filling). But we shared some tamales since they had been made just for us.
Shortly thereafter almost everyone in the community had arrived and it was time to give away the beans. After Blanca spoke, Walter and Ismael took charge of collecting signatures and fingerprints. People came up one by one to get their beans. It was good to see everyone again, especially since the last time we were here was for a funeral visitation in August. We took pictures and talked some more with people in the community. Once all the beans had been handed out it was time to leave. We hugged everyone goodbye and said we hoped to see them again soon.
Several people that were going to catch a ride to Berlín hopped in the pickup with us. Then we started back down the treacherous road. We came to one point that is especially tricky and Kathy wanted us to get out of the truck while she drove a short ways. But then someone from the community who knows how to drive offered to drive that section for her. She took him up on the offer and he drove just fine across the bad section of road. We walked to where he stopped the truck and climbed aboard again.
At that point we were supposed to go to San Felipe Arriba to deliver beans but the people from the community weren’t there. The Directiva was there so we left the list with them to collect signatures and fingerprints. The president said he’d drop it off at the house on Sunday. We said goodbye and continued on to Berlín.
San Vicente volcano in the distance
I'm not sure I've ever seen a tractor here before
Where's the road?
Love the scenery
A neat-looking lizard
With Augustina and some of her great-grandkids
Carmen making atol
The corn grinder
Also used to grind corn
Marleny & Josue
Toasting some corn
There's my piece
Chowing down on elote
They loved the corn
Something funny happened
Nancy got this photo of Kathy not
sharing her atol with the pigeon
Riguas cooking on the comal
Nancy polished off her atol
Getting ready to distribute beans
Talking to the group
He's got his beans
Signing for her beans while holding a sleepy baby
Carrying the beans home
Welcome to La Llanes
Playing with their capiruchos
Eating a mango
The view driving home
He took the wheel for a couple minutes
Walking to the truck
There we go
The pup hitched a ride too
After lunch we drove to Alejandría to deliver 30 sacks of beans. This is the community that Cecilia, Blanca, Idalia, and Balmore are from. As we were driving along we saw a woman whose house is much farther from the delivery site than any of the other houses. So we stopped in the road to give her the beans and get her fingerprint. Then we continued on to the community meeting area. There are still a few plastic decorations hanging over the road that we made for a celebration in the community in February. I can’t believe they’ve lasted this long.
When we arrived everyone was there waiting for us. A member of the Directiva spoke briefly as did Blanca. Someone from the community said some words of thanks and then the unloading of the beans to people began. I just stayed in the truck and helped to hand out beans while Cecilia collected signatures. The process went smoothly and within a half hour all the beans had been distributed. We said goodbye to everyone and headed back to Berlín. It was another good end to a bean delivery day.
On our way to Alejandria
Riding on the bags of beans
Beans to go
Talking to the group
Sign here, please
Everyone waiting their turn
Collecting more signatures
Giving his fingerprint
This old guy is pretty cute
Thanks for the beans
Pouring the beans into a different sack
Carrying it home on his shoulder
Lots of different ways to carry the bags
Watching the process