The sun set as our little micro-bus headed inland from the mouth of the Rio Paz. We opened the windows slightly to diffuse the scents of fresh fish and damp bodies which wafted through the vehicle. We paused a couple of times to let members of our little group off near their homes. Then we made our final visit for the day...
We stopped at Flor’s house to see the cosecha. Flor had accompanied us throughout the day and was as eager to show us the fruits of her harvest as she had been to show us the construction of the levee. The seeds for the crops were given by the government – wow, what awesome fields! Since the light was low, we walked along the edges of densely planted fields of corn, maicillo, plantains, and squash. The kids showed us their radish patch, pet turtle and pet parakeet.
We stood for a while near the house, slapping mosquitoes as Flor told us about the night the river broke through the levee. Her family was trapped when the flood water came and was suddenly waist-high. They had no way to escape and no where to go. Luckily they had a ladder (a simple homemade one which still stood leaned up against the house). They climbed up to the roof. They spent 10 days living on the roof. On the second day, her children were hungry so she picked up the tortillas out from the water, washed the mud off of them in the same water, and they ate them. Then Pastor Jorge came. He was going house to house to check on people, presumably in a rowboat. He made a lasso and some kind of rope system and this was how they got food. The water went down and they cleaned their house because there was mud everywhere.
The two older children were very quiet and very thin. The impact of what they had experienced a year ago was still written all over them. Their dad came home from work as we were preparing to say good-bye. He rode a bicycle. On this flat land in the shadow of the river, bicycles make getting from place to place a lot faster. We took a photo of the family and promised to bring a copy when we return. They have no photos. Flor insisted we accept a gift of coconuts to take back for everyone to enjoy back at the retreat center where the Encuentro of international partnerships was happening. Her husband and son loaded up the back of the bus with the cocos and then we hugged and kissed good-bye.
Later that night, the guy from Canada, the guy from Argentina and the gal from the US gathered at the pastor's house for supper and conversation. The pastor's wife said that when the floods came, the church and their home were not inundated, but all around them people experienced incredible challenges. We spent the night sleeping on floor mattresses in the radio station. Before going to sleep, I wrote this last paragraph for the day in my journal...
|Flor standing on top of the levee she helped to build.|
|This gives a little better perspective on the height of the levee.|