Our wooden house had a zinc roof, 3 bedrooms, plumbing, electricity and plenty of termites chewing it away, with a toilet/shower where the outhouse had been many years earlier.
Marta's had a green tar/card board roof, palm tree floors and walls made out of Roystonea regia. One bedroom the size of our tv room, a smaller area with a dirt kitchen or fogon**. Water from a stream four hundred meters away and outhouse.
That means nothing except the numbers...We were a family of four, they were ten, in half the space. At night, the sole room became a bedroom with the portable cots.
After that sociological description, lets get to the previous post: sugar, tobbacco and coffee
My earliest experiences with nature and plants took place then and there. Saw the first bushes of Coffea arabica with flowers and fruit and got to share some chores with Tobbaco nicotiana.
After the leaves were collected they were tied through the stems with a flat needle and string, to be hang to air dry in the 3 stories high structures, made out with straw walls. This activity was shared by all members of the family.
The conditions of people living in the country had been described as miserable, poor, dirty and humble then and now. Not having in plumbing, sewage and electricity, a sign of backwardness.
Yet my relatives had a couple of horses to travel, chickens, pigs, and cultivated food stuffs, besides the cash crops. Lacking money for this or that forced people to be creative, to solve problems on their own, not having a hardware or grocery store to buy.
Some diseases were consequence of not wearing shoes, hard work being exposed to weather conditions. Others result of a poor diet
or any kind of hospital facilities near by or far away.
Many people give an exaggerated importance to education, as if every one could only be useful for him/herself with a high school diploma then. Now is a college degree.
I can not say the were unhappy, or depressed/ They lived differently in contact with the environment...what it offered. There was no credit, or credit cards, one had to be creative with little resources. Never saw a morbid obese in those days, BK, KFC came much later.
Any one could make a list of everything that was wrong about poor people living in the country side. What went awfully wrong were the mindless alternatives provided by politicians,
engineers, architects and every one else involved in the destruction of
an agricultural economy with all the imaginable things that were wrong vs the dysfunctional industry/manufacture/housing/highway fever that went on for maybe, forty years.
We had little, but it was ours. Crime, fraud was not rampant. If you wanted to eat, you had to do something in return. Honesty meant something.
In Puerto Rico, after the financial trap government, bankers and speculators sunk us, the ones that will have to pay, some fools here are talking about resuscitating agriculture.
My views on landscaping maintenance, agriculture, edible gardens, ecology and environment are not taken from the monitor, over here
it seems to be the rule.
During this 'vale of tears' I am convinced that talk is cheap. Good will is useless without a foundation, vision, focus and commitment.
When I look around, the scene that many ignore, is that population growth will neutralize any effort to improve living conditions of many people, here and there. It is a trap, without escape. It is similar to the silly attempt to build enough roads, highways or parking lots, to keep up with spore like spread of all kinds of vehicles.
From a backward, agricultural and mostly illiterate, poor isle we became a concrete/asphalt/noisy hell, with a Greek like national public debt, almost 4 million people with 2 million vehicles, 30% unemployment and growing, during my six decades of age...
Puerto Rico a living hell of the Caribbean.
No wonder I am rarely in
a grouchy mood.
* Marta was a nice
person, so was Isabel,
both were dead two years later.
The town was Aguas Buenas City,
Barrios Mulitas and Juan Ascencio
**Fogon is just a table with
a dirt top. Between 10/12''
thick. 3 or 5 stones to place
pans and such with fire wood as