Tuesday, July 7, 2009
Gardening in the Rainforest
Sono has 400 acres of bush on the side of a mountain. It is about 2 miles from his house through groves of wild guava, banana trees, mango and coconut palms, and other unknown (to me) vegetation across a river, up and down slippery slopes. For Sono and the children it was a walk in the park, for me it was hard going, but I did it, and I don’t think I held them up too much. However, by the time we got there, I was wet and hot and there was no way I felt like gardening!
The garden is a ‘clearing ‘in the bush. Don’t be fooled by the word clearing. Nothing is clear in the bush. This clearing is beside a ravine with brackish flowing water. The soil is gravelly, deep, red and extremely fertile. Sono had brought some tomato seedlings to transplant, and he dug some holes for dasheen plants which he will bring up next time he goes. The only tool was his cutlass and a fork. The tomatoes he planted last week were doing well, as were his bananas and mangoes. I asked why anyone would bother planting mangoes and bananas as they seem to grow in biblical abundance. Apparently the cultivated ones are “not wild”. Right!
I have lost so much weight that my jeans didn’t fit me and kept sliding down. I was also wet, so they would stick to me. I felt trapped inside my pants. Sono cut a branch of something fibrous and tied up my jeans so at least I wasn’t tripping on the pant legs.
We then proceeded on to what is known as “the flat”, which, this being Dominica, isn’t. In fact it was a trail on the steep side of a mountain clogged with vegetation which Sono and Guyva chopped through with their cutlasses. Suddenly we stopped because we were there. Where? It all looked the same to me – green, lush, verdant, luxuriant. But there we were, at a spot they recognized, and soon I saw the little fire pit. The fire was lit, the pot set to boil (water from the stream that I could not see for the undergrowth), rice, chicken pieces, salt, appeared and were tossed in the pot while we drank coconut water and Guyva went off to dig wild yams and dasheen to roast. I lay down on a banana leaf. Lynthia and Guyva played games on their cell phones. How’s that for incongruity.
We ate our meal, (delicious, satisfying) and it was time to go down. Much easier to go down. Sono and the children were carrying heavy loads of bananas, and mangoes. We picked about 10 pounds of guava along the way. We did a small detour for Sono to show me some big iron pots left over from the days the slaves made molasses from the sugar cane plantation that had been there (on the side of a hill?). He also pointed out a track, (like a lumber track) along which the molasses was transported out, but again, I couldn’t see it for the undergrowth.
Finally we reached home. I went strainght into the shower and bed, Sono, Guyva and Lynthia went into their house to make a gallon of guava juice.