Bahia Report #1

By Carey Knecht (Planet Drum Foundation field staff person overseeing revegetation project) 

The word that defined the first week was Tranquilo — Peaceful, Tranquil. Not that life WAS tranquil, but that was the ideal. Deal with all the pressures of the job and not break a sweat (Ha!), make everything up on the spot, and still exude assurance. And then at the end of the day, slip back into the spirit of Bahia — tranquilo.

That was the first week. The word that has defined the past several days is Aguaje. Literally, it means high tide. But it comes with the full moon, and every force of nature is more intense. Full moon. Strong sun. Bigger waves and more dangerous currents. People restless, walking the streets late at night. Aguaje. 

Aguaje also means there’s been no rain. No rain for days and days. Aguaje is not a good time for planting. The idea of shutting down operations for a week because of the moon seemed ridiculous a week ago — I was warned that aguaje was a bad time to plant, but I didn’t consider changing the plans, and no one even suggested it. But now, looking at the dry plants, it seems logical. The ground is dry, nothing new has sprouted, and the grasses we’ve planted are withering. If it doesn’t rain until Thursday or Friday, like Marcelo estimates, we’re going to have to water the plants ourselves. Finding this water is not going to be easy, not when everyone’s rain barrels are low. Even underground cisterns are emptying. The pipes into both Bahia and Leonidas Plaza are not delivering water, I don’t know why, so the people go out to the streets and fill barrels from big trucks. I’m going to write to the mayor and ask if he can send a water truck up to fill the cistern at the big white house next to Station One. 

Still, the plants persist, and so do we. They are still alive (stakes, seedlings, and grasses) and as the moon and the sun release their grip on the water, it will come down from the sky, and all that has been planted will absorb and swell with green. Ojala. 

Besides that, all is going well. We have 800 plants to pick up tomorrow from San Vicente. Today we picked up the remaining plants from Flor-Maria. Besides that, what we do — always — is sacar paja/sembrar paja (dig grass up/plant it on the hill).

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