Since 9am, our PLES team has been in Los Calix. This is our second community visit and we intend to see and hold interviews with the heads of the community all afternoon. It’s been a rough week as several people on Equipo Monterey have been hit with some sort of stomach bug (or have simply suffered from GI system problems). The ecotourism group who is also working in Los Calix today, ended up sending their interpreter Brittany back to La Coordinadora because she wasn’t feeling well. Now our awesome interpreter/translator Maria will have to overload and help out both groups! It’s time for her to take the role of superwoman since it’ll be an incredibly long day for her. In the professional world, interpreters work at 30min increments and then get a break (during which time another interpreter takes over). Here, our interpreters sometimes have to work for 1-2 hours at a time, and are completely powered-out at the end. Maria has been great for our group. Though TEAM PLES wasn’t here top choice, she ended up with us. I wouldn’t have it any other way, and I think she would agree that we are the best group! Of course, who wouldn’t talk about their team in this manner—we’re all proud of our groups and of the work we’re doing here.
So, back to Los Calix. We (Laura, Alex, Maria, and I) were joined by Horacio and Cornelio (our guides from Guarda Recursos and the community) on our tour of Los Calix. It was such a relief that there was a constant cool breeze in Los Calix. By now, most of us have adjusted to the humidity in Ciudad Romero, but it is impossible to get used to the dust and smoke in the streets. I’m wondering if there may be a specific day when the locals here burn their trash on the streets.
First we wanted to get a sense for how close Los Calix was to the water channels and the bay, so Horacio led our van down a narrow road to cattle pasture located at the brink of the mangrove forest. We got an idea for how close some of the cattle farms are to the mangrove forests, made observations about the health of the forest, the type of animals present, asked questions about natural disasters, and tried to collect as many dollar value data as possible.
Next we stopped at a shrimp farm. To my surprise all six of the football field-size pools were bone try. The walk around all the pools took a long time since we also asked our guides questions as we walked. Had we known we were doing a field-survey day, we all would have worn more appropriate clothing. I was wearing nice sandals and we ended up going cross-country through the mangroves to the edge of the channel. Besides slipping and sliding as I stepped through the mud, I was afraid I was going to lose a shoe in the thick mud.
Back at the community center (meeting house), we dug into our food like hungry wolves and tried to hydrate the best we could. I’m glad there was running water in the backyard for me to wash my feet, since I had mud up to my knees. It would have been really embarrassing to show up to our interview looking like this.
Overall, today was a success. We learned a lot about community members’ attitude towards PLES, were able to gather useful data on medicinal properties of mangrove trees, learn about the problems of roaming livestock in young mangrove cover, and we all had a good time in the mangroves though we ended up pretty dirty.