March 8, 2010

Just Raymi and Me on the Farm

This weekend, it was just Raymi and me. My husband took the twins to Pirenopolis, and I went to Itapuranga with Raymi. I had the opportunity to travel to Itapuranga, my research site, with Evandro, who is from Itapuranga. I didn’t want to miss this opportunity to be personally introduced to people in my research site. And, my husband, Nando, wanted to travel to Pirenopolis. So, we decided that I would go with Raymi and Nando would take the twins. This would be the first time that Raymi, who is six, would be separated from her eight-year old sisters, as least for as long as she can remember.

I figured I would use the weekend with Raymi as a chance to spend some alone time with her. And, Nando would have the time to be just with the twins – who often complain that he favors their younger sister. Without her around, their complaints would be moot. The twins seemed happy about the prospect of not having Raymi around.

Raymi and I set out Friday morning with Evandro for Itapuranga. To my surprise, Raymi consistently asked about her sisters during the two hour car ride – the same sisters she always fights with. Overall, the car ride went well, with Raymi quite calm in the back seat and Evandro and I chatting about the local and regional economy of Goias. We saw several Movimento Sem Terra (Landless Movement) settlements on the road on the way, and Evandro explained to me that they were settled there waiting until the government authorized their takeover of part of a hacienda.

Our first stop in Itapuranga was Evandro’s sister’s house. Fatima lives in a rustic house about 12 kilometers outside of Itapuranga – in the country. When we got to Fatima’s house, Raymi’s first question was why everything was so dirty. There were quite a few flies in the dining area; the floor was full of red dirt; and the table cloth was stained. I took a deep breath and explained to Raymi that we were at a farmer’s house, and that they had lots of things she would like.

We had seen a horse when we first walked in and I asked Raymi if she wanted to see the horse. She did, and Evandro offered to let her ride the horse. Raymi was a bit scared, but got on the horse with Evandro, and held on tight. Then, it was my turn to give her a ride on the horse, and we took a short ride to a nearby stream. Raymi seemed to be happier about being on the farm.

After our horse ride, it was time for lunch. Everything for lunch was from the farm – rice, beans, potatoes, and eggs. We both liked our lunch and cleaned our plates. During lunch, we found out we would be sleeping at the farm. Raymi was disappointed, but when she saw our room – which was nice and clean with a big bed – she cheered up.

Raymi had fun taking photos of the animals on the farm and showing pictures to our hosts. She took pictures of all of the farm animals she could find – the horse, chickens, cats, dogs, and the cows.
When we left the farm to go to Itapuranga, Raymi had lots of questions about how our hosts lived. I told her the food we were eating came from the farm, and she asked if the rice also came from the farm. I told her it did. She also wanted to know how they earned money to live. I explained that they sell milk and eggs from the farm and sometimes sell the cows. She seemed a bit appalled that they would sell a baby cow.

Now that we have spent two nights at the farm, Raymi has gotten used to farm life. On Sunday morning, she got up and went to watch Fatima’s son, Braulio, milk the cows. Then, she got some corn and de-grained it to feed the chickens. They dry out the corn and store it for the rest of the year to use as chicken feed. Braulio showed Raymi how to de-grain the corn. From there, she went to help Fatima with the wood stove. She also had fun petting the calves who were watching their mothers being milked.

It has been a different dynamic with just Raymi and me. She gets a lot more of my attention and we don’t have to negotiate her wants and needs with those of her sisters. I also find that I am buying her more things she wants – soda, ice cream, and sausages. It seems less extravagant when it’s just one kid.

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