Thursday, November 13, 2008

my fried chicken has a face

For as many times as I had eaten a banana, I hadn't really ever considered where it came from or how it arrived at my breakfast table...until I lived in Carmen Pampa.

Bananas grow abundantly throughout the Nor Yungas.

I come from a country where I don't have to think too much about where things come from or where things go.  In the U.S., my garbage was hauled away every week and I never had to see it again.  Almost magically, natural gas always arrived to my kitchen stovetop and oven.  And there was never a doubt that (hot) water wouldn't come rushing out of the faucet at whatever moment I decided to take a shower.

Coffee trees loaded with the red and green beans hug the trail that links the College's two campuses.

In Bolivia, it's hard not to consider the source of each and every thing that I use.  Here, I've picked and roasted the coffee that gives me my morning boost. I've ground and seasoned the sausage I put on homemade pizza.  I've squeezed several oranges by hand in exchange for a full glass of juice.  I've nearly escaped bee stings extracting honey from the hive.  I've hoisted the heavy, grimy gas tank up onto the public mobility and, later, dragged it into the kitchen and attached it to the stove.  I've stepped across the mountain spring that feeds water to our kitchen and bathroom faucets.  I've seen the feet, feathers, and face of my fried chicken.

A UAC-CP veterinary student prepares a chicken to be sold at market.

Yes, there are plenty of days when it would be nice to just pull a bag of frozen, pre-cut veggies out of the refrigerator or not have to see and smell the community's mounting garbage at the local "dump."  I'd rather not recall that cute little piglet at the exact moment I cut into a UAC-processed pork chop.  But, as they say here, "asi es"--that's just how it is.

And truthfully, I do feel more grateful of where things come from...and I like that feeling.  In fact, this morning as I watch and listen to the rain fall down, I'm not just loving it because the campus looks like a lush, subtropical wonderland, but also because I know and appreciate that ample rain makes way for a shower and a cup of coffee in the morning. 

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