Today, we made our best effort at living our lives in a way that mirrored that of local agricultural workers in Constanza. We awoke at 6 AM, just as they do, and had a breakfast of oatmeal, a staple, we are told, of their diet.

After breakfast, we drove to a farm where we first talked to its owner, Alberto, about his business and what he produces, challenges he faces, and his perspective on larger issues facing the agricultural industry, and global economic and political problems writ large. We then entered the farm’s greenhouse, and harvested tomatoes along with the workers, taking a break to eat a snack with them. After picking tomatoes for around an hour and a half, we cleaned up and disposed of trash in and around the greenhouse.

We returned to our accommodations and had a lunch of rice with peas, delicious chicken, and a cucumber and tomato salad (just like we picked in the morning, and saw in the afternoon).

This brings us to: in the early afternoon, we visited a facility called “Mamma Mia (ask Jeromie for full name)” that receives, cleans, processes, and packages cucumbers grown in the surrounding area for exportation, primarily to the United States. Not only did we observe the operations of the facility, but we actually engaged in the work ourselves, cutting stems off of, cleaning, sorting, and packaging over a hundred pounds of cucumbers. We spoke to the manager of the facility about what her daily work look like, and the logistics involved in importing such a large quantity of agricultural goods from the Dominican Republic to the United States on a regular basis, particularly ones from Constanza and the surrounding areas.

After returning from the cucumber facility, we had free time during which a number of Gimpsers visited and shopped at local grocery stores (and coconut stands), followed by a period of self-reflection where our group talked over and processed the day. We had a dinner consisting of french fries with cheese and sausage, and our regular nightly meeting, where we collectively evaluated the day one last time, and passed the baton of “Líder del Día” or “Leader of the Day.”

The activities of today were humbling and eye-opening. The differences between our daily lives and the lives of the workers we interacted with were stark, of course, and seemed to us frustratingly arbitrary. There is no possible justification for the radically divergent lives we lead in comparison to these workers, and yet this divergence is further entrenched, over and over again, in each successive generation, in each tomato picked, in each trip to the grocery store. This reality is hard to think about, but it is necessary that we confront it, and fully understand it, in all its excesses and absurdities, if we are to have any hope of changing it.

Big love,

Elijah and Alexis

Be sure to check out the photos from today’s adventure!