As part of my time in the Manu Learning Centre (MLC), I was lucky enough to get the chance to go to Salvacion, the closest settlement to the MLC. it wasn’t exactly an easy journey, across the river on a boat and then a two hour climb up into the mountains. The reason for the visit was to spend two days creating a biogarden for a family who lived on the outskirts of the village. One element of the work that Crees carry out is to help local people become more sustainable and more efficient in every day life. One of the ways this is achieved is to build families biogardens which provide income for the household, as well as home grown food that is beneficial to their health. This is also beneficial to Crees who can start to trade directly from Salvacion rather than getting in produce from Cusco.
The first part of my day was to go to the Crees office which is situated just outside of Salvacion. This was an experience in itself as I got to meet other members of staff that work for Crees, and have an insight into their day-to-day lives which consisted of seeing people in the village and dealing with tasks that needed to be completed. Afterwards we then went to plant carrots at the local school and fix their biogarden which the children get to help maintain. After lunch we went to the home of the family where we would be building the biogarden. This family needed a plastic roofing to be added to provide shelter to veg that would be planted at a later date. It was late when we got to this house, so we decided we would measure out the size of the plastic needed and then call it a day but get up early the next day to finish the job.
Our evening was eventful as we had not brought any food with us from the MLC, this meant either going out for dinner or getting food from local shops and cooking up a treat at the office which doubled up as a small house with all the needed kitchen appliances. We decided to shop around for food. We managed to get an array of delicious ingredients such as, avocados, quinoa, salad, beer and lastly a live chicken…..
….Yes a live chicken…. this chicken was the crowning glory to our feast as we hadn’t had chicken at the MLC in several days and had been living on rice and various sauces. So this chicken was greatly appreciated and every morsel of meat was eaten… even the liver which was cooked up for the braver members of the party. After the feast we were all full and tired after the mountain of food that was demolished. The long walk back to the hostel was entirely necessary and we all went to bed straight away. Another long day was to follow.
The next morning we were all up at 6am to go back to the office and collect the building materials that were needed to create the biogarden. This involved carrying wooden slats, ladders and plastic sheeting. All of which were very heavy on a very long walk to the house. This plastic sheeting was to be stretched over the wooden frame that was already in place. This was a long and hot task which was carried out in the heat of the day. We eventually completed the task, even after realising we had put the first of the 4 sets of sheeting on the wrong way, which had to be take off and then replaced. We had a deadline of 4’oclock, which was the time the boat was coming to collect us from the beach, this meant leaving at 2:45pm which would give us time to get to the beach and a rest before catching the boat back to the MLC.
We managed to get down to the beach at the right time in the right pick up point with minutes to spare, however there was no boat t0 be seen. This wasn’t an immediate problem as it was lovely day and it was good to catch our breath and relax in the sun. This continued for a further 3 hours however and we where stranded on the beach with no food and less and less water. The sun at this point was blistering hot and there was no shade which could have been dangerous, as we had no way to communicate with either the MLC or the Crees office in Salvacion.
Finally people realised we were missing and came to get us in the boat and we arrive 3 hours late to the MLC. Being able to spend the day building a biogarden for the family was really rewarding as I know how important it is being able to have the space and structure for protection of the fruit and veg. Seeing how important it was for the family was a surprise to me, having grown up taking the ease of having fresh fruit and veg available to me for granted, it was lovely to see how important the little things are, as well as being proud to be a part of something that will provide a sustainable living to that family for several years.