Everything I Need to Know I Learned From Mangos
Mother Earth has a lot to teach us. It rather baffles me – and I am guilty as any other – how we have seemed to taken ownership of the land we walk on, drink from, breathe in, and consume of. There’s a terrible disconnect between humans and their provider; strange as it is since it’s quite obvious that we cease to exist without her, but yet we continue to consume with flippancy. How did that happen?
Anyway, on my way to the norteastern region of the province of Antioquia, bumping along through the bush in the back of a truck, the Pachamama taught me something. As we ventured on into the Colombian countryside, we passed many a mango tree, their branches so heavy-laden with golden treasure that they could not hold the weight of it all and mangos were strewn along the side of the road, some flattened by vehicles gone by, others conquered by hoards of ants, still others pecked at by birds.
And still there were enough for us. We barely let the truck stop before five of us, plastic bags in hand, waded through the abundance of fruit to collect until we could not carry one more.
Back on the road we passed more and more trees, stopping again at one shading the front yard of a village school. Tiptoeing to avoid stepping in mango puddles, I found the juiciest, sweetest mangos yet, and since my bag was full, there was nothing to do but eat until I could eat no more. But of course, the teacher came out with a bag of mangos for us, collected earlier that morning but unable to be consumed for the sheer quantity of fruit available.
Now bestowed with more mangos than we know what to do with, we continue our trip further into the bush and onto a canoe to finally arrive at the riverside hometown of one of our partners and our destination for a three day retreat.
The mangos become a doorstop to the main house, a regal pile, and everyone who comes in and out of the house stooped to enjoy a mango, or two. Over the course of the three days, the front yard became a garden of mango peels and pits, mixed with laughter, conversation, and sticky fingers.
And I began to value the situation. Coming from a place where a mango costs a pretty penny, it’s really something to see such abundance, to the point where our truck tires had mango mud stuck in the tread, and to see it freely shared. I was warned that this doesn’t happen every day, and that I’m rather lucky to have arrived in the peak of mango season which ends within a month or two.
Then it hit me. Why would nature allow for so many mangos to grow, all at the same time, once a year? Why would Mother Earth create it so that there is such abundance, so much so that it rots along the side of the road? Especially when people are starving. And most importantly, why don’t they ship well, so that we Northerners can enjoy fresh mangos all year round and forget about food being “seasonal”?
It’s not a fluke. It’s not just because that’s the way it is. Mangos – like so many other fresh foods – exist, and only for a short period of time, because they’re meant to be shared. Our life-giver designed it that way, but in our disconnectedness we can’t even make out the simplest of messages: share.