Sunday, May 11, 2014

The Day I Almost Died (But Escaped Perfectly Fine)

A Very Zoomed In Photo of my new Enemy- He's in black with the huge horns

Though statistically Peace Corps is incredibly safe, that certainly doesn’t stop parents, friends, and even volunteers from worrying about the worst-case scenario.  For my parents, it was that I would become the victim of a violent crime.  For my friends, it was that I would catch some terrible jungle malady.  As for me, I still cringe at the thought of the poisonous snakes that slither around the monte surrounding my site *shiver.*

All of those things considered, it seems a bit ironic that the one thing that almost got me was not only incredibly common, but was even raised my some neighbors back home.  What was this menacing thing?  The torro (bull)…

In an effort to get to know my community, I spent a large part of the first three months hiking to various homes and visiting with the families that lived there.  Since I have a rural community, it’s not uncommon for me to walk through fields or forests unaccompanied.  It was during just one such visit that SeƱor Torro set his sights on me. 

It all started when I approached the barbed wire fence that surrounded a house I had yet to visit.  In my usual visiting voice, I loudly called out to greet the family, and was informed that I would need to walk about 50 feet to my right to get through the “gate,” which was really just more barbed wire that was tied to the post instead of being nailed to it.  Having made less than two steps toward the gate, a bull from a small group about 20 feet away suddenly started to charge.  What was my genius response?  To scream and run.  Thankfully, the family quickly admonished my reaction and loudly instructed me to freeze.  Freeze I did, but for about 2 seconds too long.  This time, I had a moment of warning as my newfound enemy began pawing the ground and snorting his disapproval.

At this point, it was instantly evident that staying frozen would only get me mauled by my gigantic foe, so I chose Plan B: Run like the wind and pray to Heaven that my little legs could leap the barbed wire fence.  (At this point, who had time for the 50 foot trek + untying a fence post?)
I expected to find myself face-first and bloody on the other side, but surprisingly I cleared that fence Summer Olympian style with only a teeny-tiny nick on my ankle.  After assuring that I was okay, the family took a moment to stare in complete silence before questioning the utterly obvious- “You just jumped that fence?  You just jumped that fence….”

It’s safe to say that I now take Bull Safety quite seriously, as my awkward yet terrified behavior shows.  Before entering any field in which the torros reside, I search for the largest sticks (bordering small trees) that I can find, and enter slowly while attempting to demonstrate that I have much, much larger “horns” than they do. 

So far, so good. 

Thursday, May 1, 2014

Makin' Banana Pancakes (and also Banana Bread)

Don't you just love it when you find an error on an already public poster?  The only thing worse is seeing a blatant and simple Spanish mistake in an email to the country director... will this ever end?

As I mentioned in an earlier post, I've recently formed a women's baking and business group and this past week we had our second delicious class, this time making banana pancakes and bread with a few of the bananas that are grown in incredible quantities around here.  

Always eager to learn a new way to cook an old favorite, the women had been asking for this class for awhile now, and even though attendance was a little lower than last time, I'm so glad we finally got to do it.  

 Eager taste testers

We used a campo-friendly version that substituted oil for butter and powdered milk for the fresh stuff and then we even threw in a few cacao nibs and shredded coconut at the end (both local and essentially free ingredients for them).  Not only did it taste delicious, but we also had enough batter to make 1 loaf, 6 muffins AND banana pancakes.  They liked the variety and I liked the excuse to keep snacking on warm moist banana dulces.  

A big part of the class is figuring out exactly how much the ingredients cost and then how much profit could be made if we were to sell x number of batches.  Sometimes we round the numbers a little bit and they're not always encouraged by seeing a potential profit of less than $5, but as I tell them, thats $5 more than they had before AND they get to eat the leftovers.  Sure seems like a win to me.  

Campo Banana Bread
3 Very ripe bananas
3/4 Cup Milk (can be powdered)
1/2 Cup Oil
1 Teaspoon Vanilla
2 Eggs
1 Cup sugar
2 Cups Flour
1 Teaspoon Salt
1 Teaspoon Baking Soda

Mash the bananas and blend all wet ingredients together.  In a separate bowl, mix together dry ingredients and then combine with wet ingredients.  Pour into a greased pan and bake until golden brown and a toothpick or thin knife can be inserted and removed without any batter on it.  Enjoy!