But speaking of seasons, this time of year is citrus season galore. At any time, starting around June and still in progress, I can walk out my door, walk 15 m and pick my fill of tangerines (called mandarinas), oranges, pomelos (similar to grapefruits, but much sweeter), and limóns (which are orange in color and look exactly like the mandarinas--don't confuse the two and accidentally eat a limón like a mandarina. That's not fun.) And when Paraguayans eat citrus, they really eat some citrus. Not just one or two tangerines or oranges at a sitting, but more like 5 or 6 or 7 or more. They'll go out, pick an entire bucket full of their choice of citrus, and then the whole family sits around and eats them all. ALL. They think I'm so weird when I only want to eat one per afternoon. Well, that's at least one of the many, many, many reasons why they think I'm weird.
In addition to having these citrus trees around the house, some families also have citrus orchards that they harvest when they're producing well. This year, my family's young pomelo orchard did much better than last year and we harvested it at the end of June. I was psyched to help out because 1)it didn't happen last year, 2)doing stuff in the field always makes me feel productive, and 3)I love doing the hard stuff with other females. At 7:00 in the morning, my host dad Cristino, host sister Cari, two neighbor girls Blanca and Mariela and I set out to pick and bag the pomelos. Cristino doesn't have any sons to help out with the physical labor required to maintain a 10 hectare farm, so Cari and I are his go-to girls. Getting the neighbor girls to help was a bonus this day and just added to my strong, female power feeling. I was initially told that that was all the work was going to entail because then a truck was going to drive into the field, pick up the bags and take them to the road where a bigger truck would then come by at noon to take them to the purchaser. But lo and behold, the field was way too muddy for a truck to drive into so instead we were going to have to manually carry the bags up to the road. With about two hours to complete this new task, the 5 of us began the slow process of carrying the 40 45-50 lb bags the 500 m uphill to the road. One (per person) at a time. I didn't think this was going to be so bad, but the combination of awkward cargo, muddy trails, slippery stream crossings and a time crunch totally wore me out! It was a good worn out though and I was really proud of all of us for getting all the bags up to road just in time to eat a few pomelos, take some pictures, and weigh the bags before the truck arrived. I was completely exhausted and took a hard core siesta after lunch. Poor Mariela and Blanca had to spend the afternoon in their 8th grade classroom! There's no way I could've stayed awake for that. Cristino was happy about the ~600 kilos of pomelos he gets to "sell" this year (it's complicated, the trees were initially given out for free from this company with the agreement that the grower when then pay them back through the harvests over the next however many years. i'm not sure of all the details, and i'm never quite sure if this is a good system, but it happens all the time here). I was appalled to learn that they were being sold at around 600 Guaranis per kilo. That's about $0.15/lb. Good thing I'm free labor.