Friday, September 07, 2007

Corn in a Rock Field in Chacala

Sometimes I am just amazed how often I am surprised in Chacala. About who is related to whom, for example. Or bits of people’s history that they share with me. Or pieces of Chacala history I hadn’t heard before. Or who speaks passable English. Or has been to the U.S.

But I was really surprised today when Isreal showed me his corn field. Right behind his two story rental building. Overlooking the ocean.Yesterday afternoon I was visiting with Isreal and Daniel (a visitor from Monterrey I know from a previous visit). We were standing down on the Malecon, below Isreal and Chata's place. That’s the walkway around the point, along on the edge of the seashore.I was asking Isreal if he had removed the beautiful Flame Vine (Pyrostegia….) that was growing on the staircase that goes up to his property. It seems to be gone, pruned away. But things grow so fast here, maybe it’s coming back.Anyway, he asked me if I had seen his milpa.I had no idea was he was talking about. But he said “Ven”, I will show you. We walked up the stone staircase, and then under the new giant palapa that he and his wife, Chata, have built for their guests. With hammocks and an incredible ocean view). And stepped over a break in the brick wall behind the palapaAnd lo and behold! Here was a corn field. Maybe 100 by 150 feet. Or maybe less. It turns out “milpa” is “corn field”. The field was covered with boulders, but there was plenty of soil between the rocks, and very bit was planted. The corn was more than knee high, and Isreal said it was really growing fast. And the field was pretty much weed free.It’s field corn. They don’t grow sweet corn around here. They eat roasted ears of field corn here a lot though. Usually slathered with butter or mayonnaise or some red stuff. It’s a big treat. A small pickup drives around Chacala every night, offering corn that’s being roasted in the back of the truck. Lots of takers. Or maybe it’s already been roasted and is being kept hot in the truck. Can’t remember.Anyway, Isreal was really pleased to surprise me, and to show off his field. We talked about growing garlic and peppers. And I mentioned that the Indios in New Mexico, Colorado, etc used to grow beans
(frijoles) and pumpkins (Calabasas) together with each hill of corn. So save water I think. Isreal hadn’t heard that, but Daniel had.We ended up talked about my having grown peppers and garlic in small fields like his (minus the boulders). Without sprays. The use of herbicides and insecticides around this area is really frightening to me. People who can’t read or understand the application directions, wearing no protection, spraying waterways that deliver contaminated water directly in the ocean, etc etc etc.

Anyway, I really like seeing the corn field, and Isreal’s pride in his good work.

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