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Ligia Isabel Salazar Chavarría,
Social Worker, farmer and feminist Costa Rica

The Nutty Aunt

Story developed through the Magic Writing Workshops with Aurelia Dobles (national writer). Guanacaste, 2020

Yep, you saw ….. how nutty she was.

Yeah, now, for sure.

Come on Friday with your baskets of veggies, produce, and organic fruit from the farm.

What a nut! Producing all that food?

What for, they used to ask me.

Now you get it! Now that we can’t leave the house, when tons of shops are only open for certain hours, when there’s not enough food, you get the importance of having our own gardens, of being self-sufficient, even though it’s not that much, to have those green leafy things we eat.

You get how important it is to have our own gardens, to be self-sufficent, even though it’s not that much, to have those green leafy things we eat.

How in the world do people have such big yards with just grass!

I’m the one who doesn’t get it: use up all the water. Might as well eat grass! So why haven’t you planted cilantro or parsley!

When you feel that mixture of pride, happiness, and self-fulfillment when you walk out of the garden. You cut those little green leaves and go back so you can eat them right away. You see it on the plate and remember when she planted it, when she watered it and now with all that energy from the sun and the earth I am scarfing it down …. nothing better. Making limeade with my limes. Making a smoothie with my blackberries. Making guacamole with my avocados.

That’s right! But I was a nutcase.

Why live so far away when you can live in an apartment in the city?

Yes, that nutcase is happy now. I go for walks in the mountains and by the river with my big dogs that I can keep because I have so much space.

I walk around the farm, taking care of my gardens, the little trees, the compost pile and all that fermentation and those worms. My hands are covered in dirt, I sweat but you cannot wipe my smile away. Yep, the nut cases now are you guys holed up like rats without being able to get out of your modern building with your little tiny dogs.

“Sweetie, you’re crazy to live alone. Come home, honey, because a woman should not live by herself.” Poor Dad, he suffered so much thinking about me here “all alone” the way he put it. Being alone is not having a dad, a husband, a brother or son … you mean a man?… “A woman by herself is not right, people can take advantage of her…”

No, Dad, thanks. I’m not going to live with you guys. Actually, I’m really thankful to you. If you want, I can set up a little house for you guys here on the farm and you can come live with Mom, but I’m staying here. My kids are studying outside for a couple more years and when they come back, then they will probably want to live here with me, they can make their own houses. I don’t know. Here I’ve got the guard, his family, the cameras, the dogs, the alarm, and community security with the neighbors. I’m more afraid of living in the city. Chill, Dad, I’m safe here.

I’m not nutty. Getting a divorce was the best thing I did for myself, especially for the kids. I did it for myself, but also for them. Living in a house with a toxic relationship is not healthy, for anybody. Yes, I did love him a lot, but he became unbearable. I want to study and dedicate myself to my plants. My brothers and sisters are doing just fine. They’ve all got their lives and nobody bothers them. But everybody has something to say about me. Yes, I believe in love, that guy seemed to be a normal person and balanced. But in the end he wasn’t. The first years were nice but then not so much. Enough. I’m staying on the farm. I’m happy here with my gardens, my chickens, the greenhouse, selling stuff at the fair. I know this thing makes you guys uncomfortable, going back to the earth and planting things is not seen in a good light. It’s “going backward” for you guys

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That’s right! But I was going crazy defending homegrown seeds, going to marches against transgender people, going to organic fairs, and spending so much time on all of that. Here I’ve got my seeds, corn, beans, green leaves, squash, tomatoes, chilies, yams, all of it grown on the farm or swapped with other nut cases like me who believe in food sovereignty. Go figure out where you’re able to get seeds today!

Here I’ve got jams, preserves, fermented kimchi made of cabbage and brine for everybody. Come on, send me my hipster and millennial nieces and nephews so they can learn how to grow, to take care of the earth, and to cook.

Right now we are realizing that things have to change. This pandemic is a chance to redo our lifestyle. Come visit your nutty aunt. We can plant things together and one of the millennials can help me set up a webpage to sell my seeds online.

No, I am not a nutcase. Going back to the earth is necessary, it is a way of life. Here I am content with the wood-burning stove and my clay oven. I can rent out the houses, I’m setting up a space to give classes. I’m not bothering anybody. I’m sustainable and I’m not going to starve to death.

I’m not mad, Dad. I’m not doing this because I’m mad. Just because I’m a feminist and ecologist doesn’t mean that I’m crazy and pissed at life.

Quite the opposite, Dad. I’m the one who is living politics day-to-day as a consequence of our way of being.

You taught me that.

I’m not nutty.

I’m a warrior.