The Last Hurrah for the Garden
category: Jims Guatemala

papas1SM.jpgWhen we got back from our big trip, Reyna came over to talk to us. “You need to dig up your potatos, or they will all rot in place now that the rains have come.” Knowing the locals to be knowledgeable about such things, we did so and were pleasantly surprised to find that the 40-or-so square feet we’d planted yielded about 8 gallons of pretty awesome spuds, definitely enough to get us through the end of our Peace Corps service. Unless we give them all away first, that is. Gela (Chalio’s mom) came over the other day, wanting to buy 10 pounds from us. Word got around that we didn’t use chemicals, and even uneducated Mayans living in the hills can see the value in that. But Peace Corps doesn’t allow us to engage in moneymaking, and we definitely wouldn’t sell them to HER, since she always offers to wash our blankets (a backbreaking job to do by hand) because she likes Emily so much. So, we gave them to her and told her that Chalio already paid for them by helping us dig them all up.

The next day as we sat looking out the window at our garden with a big hole in the middle where the potatos used to be, we noticed that the whole thing was completely overgrown with weeds. I guess that’s the downside of having super fertile soil. We then realized that this is THE END, at least for the garden. There isn’t anything we can plant besides radishes that will be ready before we’re gone, and this month is going to be so busy with the construction crunch that we won’t have time to garden. It’s time to pass the torch.


“Chalio,” I said as I saw him on the way to Yulais, “come to my house this evening, and we are going to look through my seeds to decide what you want to plant.” When he came, he was pretty excited to look through my massive collection of half-used seed packets. He selected broccoli, pumpkin, watermelon, and popcorn. I was surprised by the last one; there isn’t a seed packet for that. I just planted some popcorn kernels from our supply in the kitchen, and they sprouted. Chalio didn’t forget. He never forgets.

Emily wasn’t surprised. “Every time we’re down there, he points to the rows that you told him are popcorn, and reminds me,” she said.

So today we went down to the garden with all the kids and planted a few flats of greenery to leave for when we’re gone, our legacy to gardening. I’m pretty confident that Chalio will do a good job tending everything until the harvest, but I have visions of total neglect after that, the earth being returned to boring old cornfield. After all, he’s only 11 and has an attention span to match.

“Lina also told me something while you were away building water tanks yesterday,” Emily added. “Nas Palas has decided that the garden is such a great idea, he’s going to do his own once we leave.”

Posted by: jfanjoy