Day 2 began with a cockadoodledoo, literally. We woke up around 6:00 to eat breakfast and set up for a long day of Environmental Education. Before the rest of the crew was ready to leave the cabin, I did some walking around the immediate property surrounding the main house, to catch some shots of the sunset – and happened to catch Christina and Hans feeding the cows and horses their breakfast! It was amazing to see the cows and horses living harmoniously on the same land, eating out of the same barrels.
Some of the cows were incredibly thin, which I had learned the day before, (after seeing many sickly thin and many already deceased cows on the drive out to the reserve,) was due to the winter weather and lack of sufficient grain to maintain them. Essentially Paraguay has two types of cows, one type that has very little fat, (which of course means the meat is very lean,) and therefore they are not set up to survive a cold, long winter – and another type with more fat on their bodies to survive the lingering winter. Paraguay is accustomed to a “cold” winter lasting about 5 days each year, and never dropping below 45-50 degrees. As the rest of the world is seeing currently, with the unimaginable spikes in temperature for the summer in the Northern Hemisphere, climate change is causing a huge drop in temperature in Paraguay, and we’ve had almost a solid month and a half of 40-50 degree days, dropping even a little lower at night. All over the news for the last two months have been reports of cattle and livestock dying from the cold, as well as many people who are homeless. I digress.
After feeding time, Francisco, Karen and I took a walk through the shorter of the two jungle paths on the Procosara property. When you walk down the first stretch you are overtaken by a beautiful lake, which was evapotranspirating like nothing I had ever seen before! It seemed like a steam room where there wasn’t enough space for all the water to go, but up back into the atmosphere, (more on the water cycle to come later!)
The path itself was also beautiful. We were able to see the recently slept in dwellings of armadillos, but unfortunately no Jaguar, Tucan, or Monkey sightings on this trip! We walked around for about 45 minutes before arriving back at the home front where we were greeted by the most delicious breakfast. Enter; Fresh Fruit, Homemade Multi-Grain Bread, Homemade Marmalade (Cumquat and Tangerine,) Homemade Yogurt, Steamed Fresh Cow’s Milk, Fresh Squeezed Orange Juice from the tree outside, and to top it off, Homemade Honey. I can’t even tell you what this meal did to my senses, (or my waistline!) I have since been dreaming of that yogurt and will attempt to replicate it to the best of my ability in the next few days. The honey, unfortunately, I won’t have the same luck, but at least I can understand the value of a slightly thicker bee’s honey than the commercial brands we usually buy in the U.S.
After gorging on these delicacies, we were ready to start the day and began to set up for the first educational session of the trip on the Procosara property. We pulled together our new “Opa?” books, (reminiscent of the TV Commercial we produced which you can view here.) the Adventures of Ytyky, which is a “comic” book that educates children on the cycle of water through little cartoon drawings, and tied our string Panda bracelets around a set of pens to put inside of a WWF “Mi Bosque Atlantico. Mi Acquifero Guarani” (My Atlantic Forest. My Guarani Aquifer.) cotton envelope. We then pulled together little bags of seeds for different types of corn, (of which I have learned there are an exorbitant number of varieties,) beans, and wheat to give out when we visited the Indigenous Communities.
After the signs were hung, the “gift bags” filled, and the breakfast for participants set, people began to arrive…(to be continued…)