Tuesday, July 7, 2009


Yesterday I heard Lisa tell the story about the year a bunch of caravanistas refused to eat for 90+ days because uptight border guards refused to allow goods bound for cuba to cross. I think Lisa's a tiny bit concerned about the July 21st crossing at the US/Mexican border because of the rather unusual response we got trying to cross from Canada.

People who believe so strongly in what they're doing they're willing to refuse food are a special breed indeed.

We don't know what to expect on the 21st, anything could happen, and last night I undertook, for a few moments, a faux hunger strike in preparation for what may lay ahead.

The Seattle event, at El Centro de la Rasa, was scheduled to begin at 6. Judy had gone on ahead, I assumed she was going there to organize the food for the potluck. (It turned out she's the central record keeper for all the Cuba bound aid which is listed and labelled, only to be ripped open in Texas, re-sorted, listed and labelled again. And still the border guards don't trust us, they like to rip the boxes open and check through it themselves too. And if they see something they like, they take it. And then we decide whether to hunger strike, or undertake some other peaceful civil disobedience until they give it back). Tom, Lisa, and I waited patiently for our trusty bus driver, Rick, to arrive from Olympia. Rick's a busy dad, among other things, and got caught in rush hour traffic, so by the time he picked us up, around 6:15, we were feeling a bit hungry and looking forward to the evening's event.

But alas, it was not so simple. Seattle's one of those big United Statesian cities, with many hills. We knew El Centro sits atop one of those hills, and so we travelled Highway I5 past the distinctive downtown skyline, decided on an exit, and approached one of them. Was it the right one? I recognized the neighbourhood, it was where I had stayed last year, at Tom and Judy's daughter's home. She's a doctor who can barely afford health care for her children. I was hoping to see her again. Maybe she was at the event last night, but by the time we realized we weren't on the right hill, though we were sort of in the right neighbourhood .... after touring several cute little alcoves of coffee houses and bookstores and passing a library and a little mexican area, it was finally time to decide we were officially lost. The guys parked the bus and checked in at an activist feminist bookstore .... surely they'd know which hill El Centro is on and how we might get there. And sure enough they did.

We got to the event an hour and a half late. Luckily, we were carrying the beans and rice so our little foray into hunger awareness was short lived. But it was enough to remind me that there are many, children among them, who do not have quality food to eat every single day, day after day, year after year. My hunger reminded me that enormous amounts of food are wasted -- left on plates and scraped into the garbage, or labelled 'unsellable' and intentionally thrown there. I was reminded that sentient beings are labelled as 'food' and their lives stolen from them.

The choir had waited for us. They sang three songs, and then most of the crowd scattered. We stayed late, labelling and loading the very generous aid that Seattleites have entrusted us to deliver to their Cuban sisters and brothers. And we may very well take on the hunger in our efforts to keep that promise.