Note with auyama and El Toro
I also want to see the Andes in order to cast
a little of my ink on their immaculate snow.
(Elisée Reclus, to his brother,
writing from Louisiana, 1855)
He’d had enough of plantation-south culture and would be
away from it. He’d go to South America, maybe stay,
maybe find some way to grow bananas.
Roberto and Bev, together for 55 years, have bananas and
papayas in their yard, and huge squash hiding all these
months they’ve been away, the auyama.
They return to share in taking care of Mamá, Roberto’s
mother, 106 years old this August. Mamá eats plantain
banana every day, in any of the ways Bev cooks them.
Also she has her Geritol pill and a Tums, and the
needlework she does all day except for when she naps or
takes a walk.
Sometimes a Cuban doctor from simplest nearest clinic
checks in, just to see how we are. Everyone is fine but
likes to see her. She’s young, kindly, lovely to see – her
long dark hair falling past collar of white jacket. Her home
visits are free, like the clinic, nearby, and the one in nearest
town, grander.) And it’s truly a visit. Coffee is served. We
all sit at table and talk. Mamá’s fingers with her
needlework are as fast as the doctor’s Cuban Spanish.
Back now in North America in a house beside a loud road I
must listen at night to radio, trying to buffer the noise. A
spokesman from the US says on BBC one early morning
that these Cuban-sent doctors are all spies.
Yesterday afternoon I heard the Secretary of State say it
breaks her heart that the Taliban have executed selfless
humanitarian aid workers in Afghanistan. The Taliban’s
explanation: these workers are spies.
Sometimes Mamá looks up from her work to the top of El
Toro, to see it white with July night snow. It’s one of the
highest peaks in the Andes, Roberto wanted me to know.
Or did he mean just there, in Venezuela?
Sylvia Ann Manning – 10 agosto 2010, Green Mountain State