Today was a Reality Challenge – giving us a taste of what daily life is like for over half the world’s population who live without electricity, running water or much food to speak of. It started with us waking up around 4:45 in the morning (more like, in the dark). Breakfast was Gallo Pinto – without any sides or juice. It was a short drive out of town, but the bus had to traverse rough roads, steep hills and a stream to get to the farming community of Llano Grande.
Students were divided into groups of 3-4 and escorted to various homes with the basic instruction that they would do whatever the family was doing. Some of our kids spread fertilizer on a farm while others helped transport coffee plants to as they were being put in the ground. Several groups got to make fresh tortillas by manually grinding down the corn, shaping it into pancakes and roasting them over a wood fire. Everyone seemed to develop some sort of personal connection with their families, and some grew quite attached to the children they got to play with.
It was an effective, revealing experience. For the most part, the families who live there didn’t seem at all disappointed by their situation. They did what they had to do without concern for living on dirt floors (with c
ats, dogs and chickens roaming in and out), using outhouses or washing their clothes on a rock. One thing that caught us off-guard, though, was that they all had electricity, and several had (old) TVs. We were told not to use any electronics – even watches, because it would make them uncomfortable. Oh, well. I for one would have no problem living simply (without so much technology) and close to the land.- growing our own food. It was such a BEAUTIFUL part of the country. I could almost convince myself we were in Hawaii.