19 December 2008

Period two (nearly) over

Greetings from a sunny Wageningen,

Period two in Wageningen is quickly drawing to a close as I've taken my two exams and only need to finish a philosophy of science paper before I can put the period to bed.  Looking back at the period I think it was less rewarding than the first period but this is mostly because I made a poor choice in my free-choice course. 

Sunday Amanda and I will meet in Paris, stay the night, and leave for Rome Monday morning. We'll stay for one week and try to see all of the major sights. We'll be there for Christmas so will attend the midnight mass at the Vatican (thanks for the suggestion Marlene) and we will be back in Sarlat for New Years. Of course Amanda will probably want to find a pub somewhere broadcasting the bowl games and I'll have to accomodate her request. Or maybe we'll just watch rugby and use our imaginations.

I read a very interesting BBC article on the balance between coca and rice production in Bolivia. Coca has been produced for centuries in Bolivia. The leaves are dried then either chewed or steeped in tea. I had the good fortune to try both methods in Peru and I really enjoyed the pleasantly earthy taste of coca tea. Despite it's negative connotations stemming from the production of cocaine, the effects of coca tea are nearly the same as coffee except that it also reduces altitude sickness and doesn't contain caffeine. Anyways, coca production is now being replaced with rice production in some areas of Bolivia because of a rising price of rice and a government program to encourage local production over food imports. This is quite interesting to me because the farmers will now have to find a balance between the two production systems based on the needs of the community and the opportunities of the market. 

This may also have a positive impact on food security in Bolivia. Currently a majority of food there is imported wheat and maize from the US. It is oddly enough cheaper to import US food because of the subsidies than to produce domestically. I was reading an article for my thesis in which peasants would produce quinoa for the market and purchase wheat for consumption; meaning quinoa, the sacred grain of the Incas, is now too expensive for Bolivians to consume! These are choices that peasants make based on balancing market and community. 

Cheers, Andrew

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