The month of June finds in me in Jamaica at Yerba Buena Farms. Yerba Buena is committed to environmentally sustainable agriculture. One of the projects Yerba Buena Farms specializes in is Top Bar Beekeeping, which I will be learning about during my time here.
A lot of this week has been about adapting to a new rhythm of life. Much about life in rural Jamaica is about learning to live with nature. You come to accept the bug bites and the dirt in the house. You are lulled to sleep by the sounds of wildlife at night. Your day is determined by what the weather is like. Peacefully coexisting with nature is a beautiful ways to live and flies in the face of prevailing ideas that focus on dominating and controlling nature.
During my time here so far, I have already acquired many new skills and had many new experiences. I have learned how to sharpen and wield a cutlass to break down bushes. I’ve used a table saw and a skillsaw to make top bars for bee hives. I’ve learned so much about bees–their way of life and how to go into a hive and learn what to look for. I’ve eaten many new kinds of foods–jackfruit and cassava and ackee, to name a few.
I’ve also been getting to spend some time with some truly wonderful people. Agape has a beautiful spirit and she selflessly gives to make sure we are all fed and cared for. Kwao is incredibly knowledgeable and skilled, and a patient instructor as well. Their six boys are truly a delight to be around–I’ve had lots of fun playing card games and reading The Adventures of Tin-Tin aloud.
One memory that sticks out from this week has been going on a walk with a few of the boys. They took me and and one of the other interns up the road to see a bit more of the town we are in. But because our tour guides were young boys, our simple walk turned into an adventure of its own.
We stopped at the bridge to throw rocks and dirt clods into the stream. We raced along the beach and skipped rocks in the ocean. We climbed rocks and stopped in to see a house that was under construction. We ate fruit off of nearby trees. And we ended up toting home a giant piece of wood because it was mildly shaped like a gun.
The simplicity and exuberance of that walk was truly endearing to me. It gave me a glimpse of what its like to have a countryside as beautiful as this as your backyard. It was a picture of living in the playground that nature built. In many ways, my life has lacked an appreciation the simple pleasures that nature provides and the beauty it gives us to behold. It also was a humble reminder of how fortunate I am to be let into people’s lives, being allowed to join their household for this month. I am excited for what else is in store.