How are you feeling? I really hope you are doing better. Has the doctor told you anything else? Please let me know because I am worried about you.
Right now I am in the interior again. I came in by boat which takes about 23 hours. Coming down the Kaituma River is one of my most favorite things. It is hard to describe how beautiful it is. It is so peaceful. I like to sit out on the deck and watch all the scenery. All the animals and birds, plus the different kinds of tropical plants. The little Amerindian children run out to wave at the boat. The boat is called the Cudjoe – its one we have at the agricultural project.
I live in a very nice wooden cottage. Some of the cottages here are made out of trulee. It is a kind of plant, sort of like palm leaves, but not really. The Amerindians go out in the bush & cut it down. They dry it out for a few days and then inter-mesh it on a pole frame. It is absolutely waterproof & looks nice. They are just as durable as the wooden ones.
I do different things around here. I sort of help coordinate, but I also spend time in the medical clinic and in the school. Also I like to go out and work in the fields with the plants. One of the carpenters here is even showing me a few things. I love working with my hands. I can honestly say I have never been happier or healthier. There is something about this climate I guess. Also, being able to work outside without all the tension and pressure of a city. I don’t think you realize it until you get away from it.
I know you would love it here since I know how much you like working outside & stuff. Some of the things going here are that you would be interested in are: a huge piggery where pigs are raised. Also there are goats & cattle will be coming in soon. There are also about 10-15 large chicken houses. I don’t know if you have ever heard of cassava which is a plant grown here. It is kind of like a potatoe. It can be made into bread or fixed like any kind of potatoe. A syrup called casareep, which is a popular flavoring in the Carribean can be made from it. It is sort of like soy sauce is to Chinese food. It looks like it only thicker & the taste is not similiar. The leafy part is used for animal feed. All these things are processed in a large cassava mill. There are acres & acres of crops. I don’t know all of them, but some of them are edoes (also like potatoe), pineapples, bananas, corn, okra, coffee, breadfruit, different citrus and vegetables.
The people here are working on developing new kinds of food. For example, there is a large bean called a cutlass bean. They found it has a very high protien content and tryed different ways of using it. Anyways they came up with a way to fix it so it tastes just like sausage patties & even looks like it. Also it can be fixed into a meatloaf only we call it cutlass loaf. It is delicious. It is one of my favorite things & I wouldn’t care if I never ate meat again if I had my cutlass patties. That is only one example of the things that have been developed here. The goverment is very impressed and has said this is the best model of agriculture in the nation. Some of the other things that are here are a saw mill, carpentry shop, school, medical clinic and other things which I’ll tell you about next time. I guess I am really rambling on but I just want to share my enthusiasm with you for what is going on here. I know you would love it like I said. It is hard to describe all the beauty of the jungle and all that is going on at the project too.
Right before I came into the interior, I helped put together an exhibit explaining the mission for all the goverment officials and the Parliment. It took a large room and we had different tables like for education, agriculture, reacreation, etc. We also had a long table where they could sample the new foods developed at the project with foods all native to Guyana. That was a real big hit! We had papaya fried pies, plantain chips and bean burgers, (which I also love!), a new kind of breakfast cereal from plantain & lots of other stuff. (I think you can tell by now I kind of like the food here! (Ha-Ha) I think I might even get fat if I keep this up!) [cross-out] Anyways back to the exhibit. (I guess you have figured one reason why I never became a writer is because I don’t keep my thoughts to organized on paper – I just skip around all over the place!) Like I was saying the exhibit – was a big hit and they were very impressed.
Visitors come into the project daily as it has become a sort of model, and is pretty unique. Today 63 teachers & educators came through. They liked the way the school is set up and intend to incorporate some of the same ideas in a school the goverment is opening up nearby.
Yesterday the ambassador to the U.N. came with his wife. They brought a little boy from Venezuela who had suffered from malnutrition – all his brothers & sisters had died from it. He is 4 yrs. old but looks like he is only 2 from being so malnourished. But he is really cute and he is being adopted here at the mission. We have many children from the local area living here. One thing that has been done by the medical clinic is that gastroentronitis (if that’s how you spell it – which I’m sure it’s not) has been virtually wiped out in this area.
Anyways I better stop for now – I don’t want you to have to read through a whole lot. But I do have a lot to tell you! Some feature attractions from upcoming letters include more about what I do, the school, the bush, the animals here, and much more! Oh! How could I forget to tell you! – I am now the proud mother of 3 baby armadillos! Their nest was disturbed out in the fields which meant the mother would probably reject them. So now I am feeding them with an eye dropper. I hope they make it. It would be neat to have little armadillos running around!
One last thing – please, please, please do not get disturbed by the bad publicity the church has gotten. I am more convinced than ever of conspiratorial & political set-ups. It is absolutely incredible how the press can print such a filthy bunch of lies and are allowed to get by with it. They refuse to print what we have had to say or to show the truth. I guess the other makes for more sensational reading. I am not surprised though. A society that is based on economic inequality and classism is certainly not going to let and organization advocating economic & racial equality exist too easily. But no matter what they think, they will not suceed. This group has done too much good and helped to many people. What is unfortunate is that the mentality of many people is unobjective when it comes to the media. Most people believe everything they hear on the news and read in the papers. Even Mom said to me, “Well, they wouldn’t print it if it wasn’t true.” I love her very much & I think she is very intelligent, but that is how she sees it too. I you happen to talk to her, please tell her not to worry about it since there isn’t a thing to even be worried about in the first place. What I worry about & resent is that such a thing has been allowed to happen. What is ironic is that we have always been the first to stand for freedom of the press & 5th amendment rights. I can certainly tell you I will have a hard time believing the papers anymore. At least I will look at what is being said with a very scrutinizing eye. Well, thats also enough of that! If you want to know anything – just ask me. The fools would be rather hard pressed to look around this place which is just one aspect of our work – and continue with what they are saying – when hundreds of needy people are being clothed, housed & fed & given good medical care.
I am also writing Mom & if you send me [illegible] address, I will write her too. The mail will probably take about 2 wks to get to me in the interior – so hurry up & write! One of these times I will get some guy in the U.S. to set up a phone patch & will call you on the radio! Bye for now. I love you & miss you. So write. Your daughter, Maria
P.S. THIS IS REALLY MY WRITING!!!