FBT Day 3 - Moonshine

Tuesday 2.16.10

Today was another long day. In the morning we were charlad at about environmental interpretation for a couple hours and then got a chance to practice. Two buddies and I went with two Guatemalans to a house with a wooden hand-powered machine called a Trapiche, or Karet in Q’eqchi’. We used a machete to harvest fresh sugar cane that grows all around the house, washed it in the pila to clean the dirt off, then ran it through the trapiche. We first cut it into 4-5ft lengths, then hammered it to break up the tough outer layer. Then we fed it one piece at a time through two large wooded cylinders that are powered by turning two cranks simultaneously using one person on each. The liquid that is extracted gets collected in a bucket and funneled there via a few large leaves. The flattened sugar cane then gets passed through again, two pieces at a time, two or three times more to extract the rest of the juices. The juice is then strained and it can be consumed raw, as I did. It was incredibly rich! Really sweet and a little thicker than I thought it would be. The juice can also be boiled down into a syrup, a solid, or used to make moonshine which I also tried. It tasted good, and the flavor really lingers in the mouth like a strong wine.

The idea of the exercise was to create an interpretive sign, guide, idea, or tour around the experience. There were six different groups who all did something different, then we all got together to present at the end. We could only use 50 words on our sign to describe the product and elicit some emotional response. 50 words really aren’t that many.

We ended that activity an hour late, ate lunch, then began training on how to use the routers. My group was assigned two signs to make; one with 7 letters and one with 18. My gringo partner and I finished tracing the sign with 18 letters in the same time our Guatemalan partners finished tracing the sign with 7. I did not have the patience to wait around to use the router nor did my ears have that kind of noise capacity. While I was finishing tracing my last word of the sign I was joined by two young local girls. Sandra, 10 and Lady, 9 are the daughters of one of the men working with us this week. We talked a lot. They asked me what everybody’s names were, where they live, and if they know how to speak any Q’eqchi’. I probably spent a total of an hour talking to them both today.

I hope the people at my two-year site are as friendly and approachable as the people here because if they are I will have no problems making friends and finding things to do. I hope I get a small town. I hope I get to learn a Mayan language. I hope I go somewhere where I quickly grow to love the people and the culture because that on its own will me to me more like a human. I wrote in a private journal a couple weeks ago about my internal dialogue of the human-human connection; why I used to not believe in it, or at least, not put any importance in it and how that’s rapidly changing. I wrote about how it makes biological sense to care for family and friends in theory, but that I also know experimentally that I care for more people than just family and friends. I suppose I don’t have to figure out why this is, but I honestly don’t think I can. I’m programmed to ask why.

Today I had an interview with Flavio, our Project Director. The point of these interviews is for him to get to know more of our qualifications and personal preferences for our two-year sites. Nothing is guaranteed, and many other factors are taken into account before personal preference, but it is always a good sign if they’re asking me about my life and interests. It shows they really want to place me at a site where I’ll be happy and therefore do better work. I will find out March 12th where I will be for the next two years. I’m excited for that day but I’m over-done talking about it and thinking about it; I just want to wait in ignorant peace.

Charlas received today: 2.5 hours

Charlas involved in this week: 7 hours

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