In the first moments of 6am you feel the pull of the bed strongly. You want nothing more than to pull closer the covers and fall back asleep until the clang of the breakfast bell brings you to consciousness, hungry. However, in those first moments of 6 am you realize there are animals rendered helpless by their situation who depend on you for every basic need. So you rise, throw on clothing you didn’t mind getting dirty yesterday (or today) and make your way to the main building to find boots in the first light of day.
Down the road you go to the ‘area de animales’ to begin the day feeding chickens, mucking out the pig, horse, and cow pens, and watering the worm beds. Accompanying every task is the incessant call of every animal raising its voice, hoping to be the first to receive breakfast. Once the last handful of sawdust has been thrown down in order to alleviate the stench of pig urine, everyone heads to breakfast—eager to fill their bowls with fruit and cups with coffee.
Dishes are then cleared with assembly line efficiency and we all rush to find our journals and pens, readying ourselves for Nicola’s morning lecture—today on events of the past, which have shaped the agriculture of today. Names such as Justus von Liebig and Rudolf Seiner are thrown around as we discuss events of the past century, which have gotten us into the ugly food predicament we find ourselves in today.
After a productive but sobering class we make our way to the compost pile to check our pile’s progress. It will soon be hot enough to heat the shower we have been working toward. Black rubber piping in snaked through the pile by our group and the compost is turned.
We break for lunch, always prefaced by soup, and after an incredible meal we rest until its time to hike to the strangler fig tree. On our way there, as we’re walking through the woods, Freddy and Carlos (our guides) catch an armadillo (!!) to show us. They hold it by its tail and, though I’m uncomfortable, I am fascinated by the plated creature. Just over a rise soars the strangler fig, it’s roots dropping to the group from its enormous branches. Many people climb up (Jaden climbed the highest) and those on the ground snack on coffee beans fresh from the bush.
After dinner we end the day with a stark documentary about food and its effects on health.