Chocolate and Rain

July 19

This morning, in the rain (welcome to the rain forest), we began in earnest our work in the Bellavista community. Shortly after resuming our duties at the job site, involving rebar and rocks, we were informed of an opportunity for the adults to participate in a Minga. Joined by the community mingera and mingero, we headed back to the river to empty a canoe filled with dirt. Using a wheelbarrow, we had to bring the dirt out of the canoe and up a small hill. While several of the local women used baskets with straps across their foreheads to carry the dirt, we also formed an assembly line to move bags of dirt up the hill. The process was smooth but dirty in the rain.

Afterwards, we discovered the dirt pile next needed to be moved the 300 metres to the job site. So we all joined in, using the wheelbarrows, bags and baskets. Before the job was completed, as we were about to fill a wheelbarrow, the women indicated they preferred we brought the wheelbarrow back down the hill to the canoe. Another canoe had arrived filled with dirt. This time, we were so efficient with the wheelbarrows that the women stopped loading up separate baskets and stuck to helping guide the wheelbarrow to the top of the hill. We got the job done as we were leaving for lunch, everyone sandy, wet, and dirty.

It was wonderful to see us working seamlessly with the community minga members. Where we might have been merely in the way, clearly we were helpful. Hasty manyana. We return tomorrow.

After everyone cleaned up, the sun appeared and we missed the rain.

We visited the cocoa plantation of Senor Fabian. In place of secondary forest, he has planted 18000 grafted for cocoa trees (similar to the technique with apples, the trees stay shorter and produce more fruit close to the ground) on his farm. We learned how he takes the seed to tree to beans, sold within Ecuador and mostly to France. Unable to keep up with the demand with his own fields, he also buys fruit from local farmers at fifty cents USD per pound. He also buys the dried seeds at a dollar per pound. Once the seeds are fermented in large boxes over five days to remove the acidity and much of the bitterness, he is able to sell the beans for three Euros per pound. The government actually regulates the sales to ensure the quality remains high. It seems there also may be a new interest in making best in the world chocolate locally in Ecuador, such as in Mindo.

Miguel bought two pounds of the beans and roasted them over an open fire. We shelled them and ground them, extruding the chocolate paste. From dry beans to moist paste as the cocoa oil is released. It was remarkably bitter still. After adding some milk and sugar, we got a spoonful and tried adding various ingredients, such as vanilla, wine, cinnamon, chilli sauce, or more commonly sugar or honey. The flavour was strong and the bitterness was still tough to conceal. Maybe making chocolate is not so easy. We enjoyed the sunset and a rainbow as it began to rain again.

Koren had a highlight learning some Spanish songs from Sandra and Miguel, initially hearing some songs with simultaneous translations on the canoe and then later after supper working out some chords on a resident guitar.
Aubrey spoke after dinner with the young doctor responsible for the recently started health care pillar in the region (she and the new clinic started two months ago). She is excited about the prospects of bringing health care directly to many of the local and isolated communities in a sustainable manner.

Amazingly, it seems the adopt a village model by Free the Children, with the principles of community engagement, involvement, and personal investment, seems much the same as the principles of cognitive behavioural therapy that have become so essential to the practice of family medicine recently. They are exciting and effective for the same reasons, involving person- and community-centred decisions that are bound to have an impact by teaching and working toward independence, rather than externally solving problems and creating dependence.

Leave a Comment

Filed under Uncategorized