Tuesday, February 05, 2008

It's Raining Black Ash

Summer is upon us. We are inching closer to the hot season which starts around March. This is true for much of Honduras anyway unless you live way up in the mountains. One way to know the season is changing is when the sugarcane fields are harvested. My neighbor tells me they call this season "Zafra" because it is the time when the land is prepared.

Things kicked off last night with the burning of some nearby fields. Sugarcane fields are burned as the first step in harvesting. It gets rid of a lot of the excess to make harvesting easier. I found it explained here in English in a PDF- Louisiana Sugarcane Burning.
The image of the burning fields is one I ripped from a website about sugarcane harvesting.

There are lots of sugarcane fields around San Pedro Sula. I actually tasted raw sugarcane for the first time shortly after we moved here last July. Our neighbors who live across the street grow food crops in their yard for their own consumption and also to share. Sugarcane, plaintains and yuca. They had two or three good bushels going and they cut a few stalks for us. We all got sugar rushes chewing on the raw cane, except for Sister who is very reluctant to try anything new. Brother loved it, of course. I'll have to see if I can get a photo of some of the sugarcane juice stands around town. Maybe a video would be good too. They sometimes ride around with a mill and stalks of sugarcane and make fresh cane juice for you right there.

The number of sugarcane fields around San Pedro Sula are probably because there are large flat stretches of land in the valley which are surrounded by hills. I don't understand how winds and weather work exactly, but it's obvious this geographical layout creates a pollution problem. I wonder how all the burning they do effects those with respiratory problems? Especially for the young and old. As I mentioned before, I have allergies, and I'm not sure how this may effect things, but today my eyes are sort of burning and my throat and eyes are a little more itchy.

Here are some photos of the ashes that showed up around our house. A lot had blown away since this morning when the winds picked up this afternoon. Needless to say, it's not the time to be wearing white.

That is not dirt you see in the photos. That is sugarcane ash blown in from the burning fields a few miles away.


La Gringa said...

I was thinking that it was about that time of year. ;-( I think it was last year that there was a grey haze over the whole country for about a week....or maybe it is every year.

Grandma Sprout said...

Oh my goodness! You'll have to stock up on those white mask air filters to wear! :)

Joanna said...

I was wondering what you meant when you said "it was raining ash". Now I get it.

I've actually seen this before (burning sugar cane) in Maui. I can say I know exactly what you're talking about ;-)

By the way, photo #2 is a great shot

Andrea said...

Oh I am all too familuar with that! I live in Louisiana. You can see black smoke from miles away and you know what time it is!! Not too many people will burn it. I have a sugar cane mill about 7 miles from my house. It's sugar cane all the time here!! Great pictures!! It's a mess to clean up!!

Daniel said...

thats the stupid part w/ sugar cane, the goverment promotes sucarcane farming beacuse technically it absorbs more carbon than forests...but then they burn them up releasinh gigantic ammounts of carbon to the air....its just dumb man plain dumb