During probably our chilliest morning yet, Mads and I got an early start and headed up to our escuela to finish painting the wood trim. The rain had started overnight and our surrounding mountains were coated with a thin layer of snow. Feeling a little frigid in the nearly-freezing rain we started painting, only to be surprised by Oscar — or el doctor, as the locals call him. Informing us that it was too cold to be painting, Oscar declared it tea time and we set off to our apartment for tea with some honey from our bee guy Jossua.

Over tea, Oscar and Principal Clamente told us that Monday would be our first day of teaching English — one hour per class, making the rounds to every class each day. We also told Clamente about our bee project, and he suggested expanding it to include lessons for parents and the community at-large. Brilliant Clamente. Mads set to work applying for a grant from the Awesome Foundation that would cover the cost two additional hives and supplies.

Somewhere during the conversation, Oscar mentioned the hospital in Ancawasi, and, telling him we were unfamiliar with it, he immediately set off to rectify this. Once again we piled into his car, and took a little joyride through the freezing rain. As soon as we got in, he threw on Prince’s Kiss and we all started to jam out. The ride reminded me of those lazy Saturday afternoon drives I took with my friends in high school, only your musically-inclined friend has 45 years to back up his music taste, and plays his tunes from a smart phone, instead of a burned CD.

As Prince’s pop melodies gave way to more somber opera, our conversation turned, as it usually does, to the state of Almeria. Oscar lamented that he’s tried everything, finally settling on raising animals to feed the kids and pay the bills. Though, nothing is without its struggles. The hens, he said, were eaten by snakes and dogs. The pigs aren’t exactly fertile and have only had one pregnancy in three months. The plastic that makes up the ceiling of the greenhouses has outlived its suggested five-year lifespan, but now with huge gashes and holes, Almeria can’t afford to repair it. Oscar said he was grateful for the new energy Mads and I provide, and thankful for our new ideas. I don’t think this bee project will be the silver bullet that fixes Almeria, but at least it’s a step in the right direction.

August 28, 2013