Saturday, December 27, 2014

Darien Part 5: We did some work too

Charlie and I teach about how you can use your cook fire as an oven

Charlie's community was awesome- over 40 people came to our Baking & Business class!

"So now we wait?" ... "Yes, but it's worth it."

Since my trip to the Darien was work-based, we made sure to plan some charlas in local communities.  After talking to the two agriculture volunteers, we decided to do an Introduction to Cacao/Baking and Business hybrid for Charlie's community and a Personal Finance session for the women in Sam's.  

Since both were sessions that I've taught multiple times, I was able to relax a little bit more and get to know the communities.  Since I generally work with groups of people that tend to be a little more shy and reserved, it was awesome to introduce topics to the outgoing Emberá.  As it turns out, they have cacao trees, but almost nobody knows how to care for them or process the beans into chocolate.  

And then this perfect Peace Corps moment happened:
Older gentleman: "There's this fungus that grows on my cacao and burns it.  Does anyone else have that problem?"
Me: "Actually, it's a fungus called Monilia and it's all over Central America."
Older gentleman: "Well I want to be better, so what can I do to control it?"
Me: "You can cut the damaged cacao pods off the trees because they're permanently damaged and can spread the disease to other pods."
Older gentleman: "Hm.  Well if they can spread, shouldn't I also bury them?"

Though it may not seem like that big of a deal, I can't put into words how frustrated I've gotten trying to get cacao farmers in my area to adopt simple techniques in the past year.  It's a fight just to convince them how beneficial cutting damaged pods off their trees can be- so to have a farmer come up with the idea of then burying them (which is ideal!!) was super encouraging.  

Panamanians love skits.  They think we're hilarious no matter what we do, so when Sam came out in a women's paruma skirt and I came out in a men's loincloth, they just about lost it.  

Cash flow practice

One of the ice-breakers we played was telephone... though I'm not sure they quite understood how to play since we ended up with the phrase (in Emberá) "What do we say now?"

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