Archive for the 'Guatemala 2016' Category

Day 6: Fresh Chicken and Market Madness

Today, we made a Guatemalan traditional dish from scratch with a local woman in one of the coffee co-ops: Pepian con Pollo.

To start the dish, you take a live chicken (yes, fully alive and moving!), put it head down into a metal cone over a empty sink (just enough so its head is peaking out at the end), and proceed to cut its throat to kill it. Although we had some eager travelers in our group that wanted to be the ones to kill the chicken, the woman did it herself, but in a way where anyone who wanted to watch could. Due to a weak stomach, blogger Richelle did not watch it, buy Austyn was up front witnessing it happen. After killing it, we had to wait for the blood to empty out.

Following this, we were told to place the chicken – feet first – into a boiling pot of water in order to loosen up its feathers in order to pick them off. Finally, we butchered the chicken and threw it in a pot to cook.

While waiting for the chicken to cook, we sliced and diced many fresh vegetables – carrots, red peppers, onions… you name it! All to be put into the dish. We de-seeded dried chili peppers and put that on a clay slab (which is only used when making this dish) with other fresh vegetables to roast – all of this would then be smashed and blended into the sauce.

After prepping all of these aspects of the dish, we were shown how to form corn tortilla shells! These were served with every meal we had, and they are made fresh for every meal, even if there are left over from the meal before – talk about delicious!

After about 2 to 3 hours of prepping for the dish, it finally all came together and we ate our wonderful work for lunch.

Following lunch, we drove to Antigua for some free time to shop and a market scavenger hunt for our dinner than night! We split up into teams to find certain items in the food market and were given 100Q (about $13 USD). We were all successful in our findings – most not using any more than about 50Q in order to get our supplies! It is amazing how far money can go here, and how well we all have gotten with bartering prices with sellers!

We went back to our house in San Miguel Escobar to prepare the food we had bought – dinner consisted of loaded nachos, papaya and mango smoothies, fresh guacamole, and fried plantains with chocolate for dessert. Overall, it was a wonderful day, and everyone was happy with their personal gift purchases.

Pictures will be uploaded sometime on Saturday when we are back in the States.

Best,

ASB Guatemala :)

Artisan workshops!

Yesterday was packed!

We started the day finishing up our construction projects! After showers that involved lots of soap and scrubbing to remove cement we all split into three groups to attend artisan workshops.

I attended the textile workshop and met Eliva who told us of how De La Gente was able to help her get a loan so she could quit her factory job and start making purses. We got to pick out traditional Guatemalan fabrics for our bags. She let us practice with her sewing machine..which I broke right away. Typical me. It was an easy fix, Eliva just needed to replace the needle.  It was pretty clear that sewing is not in my skill set! We all got to help sew our bags and we ended up buying a lot of extra products from her!

Eric and Crystal in our group went to the iron working workshop! They each got to outline, cut out, hammer, and paint iron lizards. They by far had the most labor intensive workshop, and were sweating afterwards! The hike to the top of the workshop wasn’t even the hardest part! Cutting out iron with scissors turned out to be pretty rough. “Tough?! Near impossible!!”-Eric. Carlos their teacher has made an entire house out of iron! They also found out that chickens aren’t pets here….check out our next post for more about that….

Shelby, Danielle, and Molly went to the wood working workshop! Where they met Jorge a wood worker. They learned how to use different tools a got to make wood serving trays! They got to pick out traditional fabrics to enclose in their trays. Next up was sanding and staining the trays. After the trays were finished, they got to go look at his shop and see a bunch of wood furniture with looks of detail that he had made by hand!

It was great to come back to De La Gente at the end of the night and show off all of our new products!

See ya,

ASB

 

Construction Days Photos

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Day 4 & 5: Dirt and Art

Sorry for the lack of a post yesterday – both of us bloggers were beat from a long day of construction working and it just happen to slip both of their tired minds.

On day four, we spent all of our day building a roasting patio and a fermentation tank for a family in the coffee co-op through De La Gente. Roasting patios are used to dry coffee beans from their “honey” coat once they are shelled from their fruit over-coat – the families literally lay out the beans in a single layer on a flat, concrete ground, and let it dry and roast in the hot Guatemalan sun (fun fact: which is typically at a UV index of 10/12). The fermentation tanks, which are still somewhat a mystery to our group, are used in the process of processing coffee beans – it makes the process easier and quicker.

As for construction, we did it all – sifted rock and sand, mixed concrete by hand (well, on the ground in a large pile and using shovels), dug trenches, laid cement and bricks, cut cement blocks in half with a machete… you name it, we most likely did it during one of the two days of construction working.

It is amazing to see the hard work and dedication that these coffee growers put into their lives – what tired us out in a matter of hours, are what these people do everyday… sometimes for more than 10 hours a day at a time. As a group, we reflected on how their lives and work ethics beat ours tenfold. We typically see “work” as simply being busy with many major or minor tasks, but here, their work is physically driven and demanding, and can often be seen as tedious by us (ie. sorting coffee beans for size and shape, mixing many loads of concrete, sifting through a wheel-barrel or two worth of rock/sand with hand sifters…).

Reflecting back on day four and the physical hard labor that it demanded, here are some words we used to describe our experience for far in Guatemala: Familia (family), opportunity, humble, exciting, grateful, commitment, eye-opening, smile, salsa (dancing), journey. These words continue to follow us throughout this trip, and we will continuously use these ideas to reflect upon coming back to the States.

On day five, we started the morning out finishing up the construction projects that we started the day before. Although tired and sore, we finished with flying colors, and the second day seemed all the easier (and quicker) because we now knew how to do things on our own.

We got to spend a lot of time (two days!) with this one family, and it was so great getting to know them, and so much more about the Guatemalan culture. Although broken translation at times, we have two individuals on our trip who are able to speak Spanish and help keep conversation. Also, in this family there are two sons that are learning English, so conversing with them was easier – these people in either group tended to be the ‘middle man’ for many questions and answers. We sang “Happy Birthday” to one of the sons, Julio, who turned 21 today (3/23/2016); he was so excited :)

After lunch, our group split up in two three groups to go work with local artisans around San Miguel. Half of the group went to work with artisans who did wood and metal work, and the other half worked with traditional textiles to make purses/bags. In a later post, we will further elaborate on these workshops – as of right now, not everyone in home, and both us bloggers went to the same artisan workshop.

Overall, the past two days have been physically intensive, interactive, culturally immersive, and exhausting. Everyone has burnt skin in one place or another, and we have found out that getting cement off of your skin is incredibly hard (and that it turns GREEN on your skin because it reacts with the chemicals in sun screen).

Stay tuned for our post about the artisan workshops and what they had to offer each group! The next post with be of photos from the last two days of construction work.

Best,

ASB Guatemala :)

Day 3: Black Gold

Hello all!

Today was our first full day in Gautemala and it has been quite the learning experience!

We woke up at around 7:30am and had fresh eggs and beans for breakfast! It sounds so simplistic but it was amazing. We then hiked up Volcano Aqua. It took our group about a half hour to get to the plantation, it was a really steep hike but the view made it worth it!

Once up to the plantation we learned all about planting, growing, and caring for coffee plants. A few of us even dared to try the raw coffee fruit and drink what the locals call “honey” from the fruit! We picked coffee fruit for about an hour and a half. In total our group picked about 69lbs…which sounds impressive but really isn’t!

We next went to Froilan’s (the owner of the coffee plantation) house for lunch. His family taught us how to separate the fruit from the coffee beans! Who knew it could take up for ten days to dry the coffee beans out?! We each took a turn roasting and grinding our coffee so we could each have a fresh cup. Our group ended up buying about 54 bags of coffee all harvested by Froilan!

After that we enjoyed our first meal without our translator! It was an awesome experience getting to pr actice my Spanish for the first time! We met with Gregorio’s family and learned that he has worked with De La Gente for about seven years! His daughter Julia taught us how to salsa and despite the language barrier we were able to have a wonderful traditional Guatemalan dinner.

 

Tomorrow we wake up bright and early again to help paint and build a coffee fermantation tank for a farmer!

¡Adios!

ASB

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