A Retired Fisherwoman Became a Baker in Manzanillo

Maria Suarez Toro
Posted May 17, 2020 from Costa Rica
Cipriana bakes bread for her community in times of emergency
"Sistering" in Mano Vuelta
"Sistering" in Mano Vuelta : When Lilian from Limón, came to donate food from Zumbado Construction, she met Cipriana and heard her own advocacy story in the emergency. "Food for the soul also", said Lilian upon listening to the story. "Mano Vuelta not only provides fish, they teach elders how yo re-fish for food" said Cirpiana. (1/3)

The Mano Vuelta Campaign is a unique community response to the coronavirus crisis to collect and distribute food to people who have lost their livelihoods during this time.  It is also targeted at fostering a regeneration of ancestral sources of subsistence amongst  elders and their families who need help in finding food, while rethinking their production alternatives. 

This is the story of one participant in the campaign, Doña Cipriana, a fisherwoman in Manzanillo, who is 70 years old.

Although there is a myth in the Caribbean that women don’t fish, she raised her family of six children fishing and making bread. 

She eventually had to sell her boat “Las Primas,” because she no longer had kids in the house to join her out fishing.

When Doña Cipriana received her food bag on the 5th of April, she explained that “now that I don’t have to spend my little savings on buying food, I’m going to use the money to go back to selling bread from home. If you can help me, I just need a second shelf for the oven and a small amount of money to buy the starter.” She then showed us her oven and called her carpenter son so that he could measure the size of the shelf. And so the ancestral coconut bread, the African Journey Cake and other breads will once again be sold as a part of the local economy in Manzanillo. 

Note from the author: One day when I was fishing out at sea this past month, I suddenly remembered I had a World Pulse zoom meeting. So I pulled out my cell phone from the waterproof bag and connected, bringing the voices of all 25 women in the virtual meeting into the boat, to join our fishermen's voices to talk about the value of technologies in the hands of women and peoples.

"Those women Maria is talking to are my "coterráneas," said Roy Brown, an Afro Costa Rica elder to his grand son Katan.

"What do you mean, grandpa?"  asked 20-year-old Katan Brown.

"Well, Maria is talking to a bunch of mostly African women and that is where we came from, son."

And that day, the airwaves, the ocean waves and the ways of the sea, brought together centuries of other travels between Africa and the Américas.

 

To learn more about the Mano Vuelta Campaign, read Part I: Mano Vuelta in Costa Rica During the Coronavirus Emergency; & Part 2: What is Mano Vuelta?

 

Comments 7

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Mahima Rathore
May 17
May 17

Very inspiring story

Maria Suarez Toro
May 19
May 19

Thanks

Chi8629
May 17
May 17

Thank you for sharing .

Maria Suarez Toro
May 19
May 19

Thanks

Jill Langhus
May 18
May 18

Hi Maria,

Another great story. I hope that Cipriana will able to do very well with her coconut bread. It sounds lovely. I'm wondering what it tastes like. It's so awesome that you joined the Ambassador call from a fishing boat. I feel like I missed out on that experience:-) Thanks for sharing Cipriana's story and your story, too. I hope you give us an update on how her business and Irene's go after COVID.

Anita Shrestha
May 19
May 19

Thank you for sharing .

Paulina Nayra
Aug 24
Aug 24

Dear Maria,
You are always inspiring. Your stories are engaging and I feel envious that you can go around sailing and diving in the ocean. I'll read more about Mano Vuelta and wish to know how to make that coconut bread of Dona Cipriana.
Hope to see you in the next Zoom Meeting.
Take care and huggs.