Today it was a very slow start. The residual alcohol in the blood stream was taking a toll on some of us, while others recovered fast from the localy brewed aguardiente…
After breakfast at around 10 AM a group of villagers and our small group gathered at the new school building. Hatun Runa had been raising money to build a new school here for two years and with the first batch of donations, the base walls and the roof were built.
The second batch that still is to be done, will have to take care of the windows, doors, floors, bathrooms and interior finishings. As there is much rain here in Los Chilchos, what is much needed is a drainage around the school building and with wheel barrows, shovels, pick axes and 20 pairs of hands, we set out to level some of the mud floor, digging a drainage trench around the building and carting away the not needed soil. The locals were pretty impressed how strong the women in our group were (‘you guys must be very proud of your women’).
Again it was a sunny day and we sweated plenty. In about three hours the work was done.
Everyone helped and it amazed all of us how quickly things could get done if enough people helped together.
Lucky for Hatun Runa, the construction of the school is being overseen by the same foreman that already oversaw the building of the new Ucumari coffee plant. Tapping into that infrastructure is priceless and very fortunate for Hatun Runa and the village. Just getting funds transferred and properly disbursed is already a major challenge here.
Exhausted and dirty but happy we went for lunch. And were looking forward to visiting a sugar cane mill in the afternoon.
Heading out in bright sunshine (still an anomaly in Los Chilchos) at a leasurely pace we walked to the sugar cane mill. We heard the sound of the mill long before we actually saw it. Loud gnarling sounds could be heard.
Next we saw a wooden mill pulled by a horse and a mule going in circles. In the middle three wooden rolls are working to squeeze large stalks of sugarcane until the sugar cane juice dropped out into a vat underneath the press. It tasted very sweet.
The cane juice then gets cooked for several hours until it’s a very thick sirup. This then gets poured into a wooden board with round depressions and hardens into a hard brown blocks of sugar. It tasted very much like molasses.
We put Harry and Chris H. for the picture onto the wooden mill and are still discussing who’s the donkey and who’s the horse.
Back at the coffee plant, the staff there was so nice and showed us what happens if one of the farmers brings harvested coffee to the plant.
How it is being sorted, de-shelled, cleaned and then set out to dry. Once dry, the shells get separated from the beans and sifted by hand. We got a kilo to take home of course.
After our last dinner here in Los Chilchos, we packed for the next day, when we are scheduled to head back to Leymebamba on another all day trek.
Pictures: Jih-Ho, Sally, Chris