Wednesday, June 30, 2010

First Time Espanol

A few days ago, we met with Uli from GTZ, an NGO that works with the Kallari Cooperative. During the conversation, I realized that it might be useful for the alumni to know some key Spanish words relating to the cocoa processes!

Here it is in a paragraph that gives some information a la vez:

Kallari is a cooperativa of campesinos that grow cacao on their fincas. Many communities in the region of Tena participate in the cooperativa. There are 850 familias in the 21 different comunidades. Each comunidad has an asociación that is responsible for all the familias in their region. Each asociación is run by people within the comunidad. This gives Kallari many working parts that are each autonomous from one another.

To start their finca , the campesinos must sembrar the arboles de cacao. During harvesting time, the campesinos cosechan the mazorcas. The asociación collects and sells the cacao from the fincas in their comunidad to the Oficina de Kallari. Kallari pays the campesinos more than the intermediarios who typically buy at low prices from the campesinos and sell at high prices to fabricas of chocolate. Kallari then sends the cacao to the Centro de Acopios to be secar. Here, there is also a small vivero where young arboles de cacao are nurtured.

After the long proceso de secado, Kallari sends the chocolate to their fabrica of chocolate in Quito, four hours north of Tena.

Key for Spanish - English

a la vez - at the same time
cooperativa - cooperative
campesinos - farmers
cacao - cocoa
finca - farm
familia ( s ) - familie ( s )
comunidad ( s ) - community ( ies )
asociación - association
sembrar ( v.) - to sew ( in this case, to plant a tree )
arboles de cacao -cocoa trees
cosechar ( v.) - to harvest
mazorcas - pods ( of cocoa )
oficina de Kallari - office of Kallari
intermediarios - intermediaries
fabricas - factory ( ies )
centro de acopios - collection center
secar ( v.) - to dry
vivero - nursery
proceso de secado - drying process

Phew! I'm sick of taking buses!

01' 00” Ica-Pisco
00' 20” Pisco-Chincha
01' 00” Chincha-Canete
04' 00” Canete-Lima
14' 00” Lima-Chiclayo
09' 00” Chiclayo-Tumbes
11” 00' Huaquillas-Ambato
04” 30' Ambato-Tena

Equals 44 hours 50 minutes of bus travel in the last 5 days (route here). With just a quick jog across the bridge from Aguas Verdes to Huayquillas and here we are in Ecuador.

During our trip from Ica to Tena, we visited NGOs in Pisco, Chincha, Canete, and Chiclayo. The NGOs all agreed that our documentary needs more context as well as some statistics to help people contextualize what our message is all about. We let those thoughts settle as we slept, tumbled, and rolled onto each new destination.

When we got to Ecuador, many things changed. Prices got a lot higher (the cost of living in Quito is about half that of New York City but of course the jungle is much cheaper), street vendors started selling a whole lot of fried plantains (here is a recipe for corbiche, a typical platter here), and the buses started to make new stops at drug control stations (the wikipedia article about the Ecuador-Columbian relations isn't too detailed). At these drug control stations, the luggage doors on the bus get opened up, people sniff around and check random bags, and sometimes they come onboard to check the bathrooms. Along the way, though, this man-on-duty found something unexpected...

Can you guess what that is? If you said, “squirrel in a cage,” then you'd be right! A very cool and collected mother let her two lovely children bring two squirrels in little cages on our 11 hour bus ride from the border to their home in the mountain-town Ambato. We couldn't hear what was going on from where we were sitting, but he shook his head like he was about to throw the poor things out. Somehow, the mother was very charismatic or the children looked so stricken with sadness (or some combination of both) that the soldier let them have it. As the bus rolled North through its first few stops in little towns, we saw our first glimpse at the fields and fields of the banana trees of Ecuador, the blueblue sky, and the amazing clouds...

I guess greenery is pretty awesome when you've been living in a desert. Eleven hours and a few curves in the mountains later... we arrived in Ambato at midnight, and everything was dark.

The view in Ambato was amazing when we woke up the next morning though..

We took a break (and a shower!) in the ninth largest town of Ecuador Ambato which is home to 350,000 people. In the morning, we discovered that Ambato-ians like eggs, toast, warm milk, and guava juice in the morning with a big dose of the 9:30am World Cup Game (0-0). We packed at 10am and watched the World Cup (0-0). Bought our tickets at 10:30am and watched the World Cup go into overtime (still 0-0). Got on the bus and watched the World Cup (still 0-0). But as we left Ambato, the signal began to break up as they went into penalty kicks. Everyone was watching and waiting... breath held hoping that the bus would get a red light or something!

But we got to watch it all as Paraguay won 5-3 against Japan to move onto the quarter-finals. People in the bus were pretty excited. Neither Peru and Ecuador have teams in the world cup so I think it's all about South American pride. Anyways, we ascended some mountains, descended some mountains, and drove straight into the heart of the Oriente (video about oil- there are many perspectives on this if you are interested in hearing both sides, you should keep searchin... but this video of sights and sounds is less charged with opinions). Here are some pictures along the route, but it's hard to capture the breath-taking view in a moving bus without panaromic memory:

Tunnel through a mountain on the bus

We didn't know what to expect when we got to Tena, but we were both excited to finally see the sign after all the traveling.

According to an Ecuadorian who joined us for lunch when we arrived Tena, the region attracts a fair amount of tourists to go rafting on the rapids, sightseeing for animals in the jungle, etc. (Read more about Tena's main attractions here). This year, however, has been quite slow due to a recent flooding. We took a taxi to Kallari's office (one out of a million chance that a taxista would know? Or is Kallari much more popular than expected?).

We stopped in the office, but Uli wasn't there. We hadn't called ahead of time, but we thought we'd give it a shot. We found our place, laid down our bags, and basically called it a day. Dona Vilma (the owner of the hostel) cooked us an amazing dish called chambolte, and we drank tea as she told us the story of how Kallari began.... but more on that later.

The bugs are singing outside as I write, and the humidity is thinning. The hammocks outside are rocking in the rain storm, and the frogs are hopping in and out of a puddle outside. It is quiet enough to hear most everything despite the occasional passing of a car on the busy road nearby.

PS This is what we've dubbed the hairy tree:

Any guesses as to what the foliage creeping all over it is?

Friday, June 25, 2010

My grandma says

Dear Readers,

My grandmother has requested more pictures of our faces. Here they are:

Oh wait, are we in a Starbucks?!? Heck yes, we are. Let's just say ... LIMA. Rico rico. We are waiting to meet with an NGO but in the meantime needed Wi-Fi and electricity to edit. Worth a 12 Sole ($4) hot chocolate?

Ask Adam. He ordered it.

PS here is a picture from our stay in the mountains with Antonio of Lutheran World Relief:

Wednesday, June 23, 2010


First off, here is that picture that wouldn't load last time.

Second off, here is a picture of the rickshaw. Yah, Suprio! Dhaval!
Here are some pictures to accompany the last post:

In other news, the documentary is starting to come together. It is in eight separate parts right now. Most of them (6/8) are done in their “long version.” Later, we will have to come back and really slice and dice it down.

The water tower is so that all the houses can finally have running water. Dishes, toilets, clothes... everything will be able to have a hook-up. Since our homestay family probably doesn´t have a land title for the property they are on, I doubt that they will have one. On Sunday, we moved in. Our homestay grandma told us that so long as she is alive, we will have a room to stay in. The house is really big, but I suppose that it should be expected when you have 12 children. Now they´re all grown and only Juan, Laura, and Celia are living here. Here is a new addition to the family:
In the picture below, Rosa and Marcela are making ¨olmita¨ which is this delicious mix of ground corn, sugar, cinnamon, clove, and some butter. Then they put it inside of cleaned corn husks and boil it in a large pot. We made up some corn shellers to aid in the process and realized some of their flaws and theorized how to make them better.

The texture changes from mushy baby food to tamale texture. It´s a great breakfast food with some steaming hot quaker (for those of you just tuning in, that´s like a really viscous oatmeal drink)

Brooke was down with a fever for a bit, but totally revived by some hot tea and rest for the morning. Meanwhile, Adam chopped up the tree in the front yard alongside Edwin. They are spiky trees.

Yesterday we worked in the casita all day long (10am until 8pm) with a short lunch break. During our lunch break, we showed Marcela and Juan how to work the drip irrigation kit that we struggled so hard to bring from India.

We showed the kids that dropped by what we were working on and some of their random videos. Afterwards, we gave them a compilation of all of their documentaries on DVDs. They gave us some nice feedback about how their NGOs came across (Henry Flores of the United Nations Program for Development was too ¨austere and mean looking¨) and what they thought was missing. There is a clip of Marcela (our homestay grandma) cutting apart a tree with a machete. The voice over says: ¨Our family woke up early and worked hard all day.¨ One of our students commented, ¨A lot of people get up much earlier and go work in the farm. And that´s hard work.¨ More than anything, they said that the culture just wasn´t there. So we lent them some flipcams for while we´re in Ecuador so they can record a short film of ¨the way of life¨ in Manco Capac is. But now, we´re packing and off....

Sunday, June 20, 2010


For those of you who can´t speak ¨Adam-ese,¨ that last post meant that we are now nearing the end of the documentary-making, moving to Manco Capác to be near the students, and have many full stomachs.

We visited our students yesterday (a nice bike ride from the plaza de armas to the outskirts of Ica). The scenery change was amazing. Honking taxis, blurs of yellow and blue, and suspicious adolescents on the streets... and then the view of breath-taking mountains and clear blue sky. The stalks of corn are very tall, oh so tall. There are a few new buildings along the way, but most noticeably, a paved street. On the bumpy, dirt road of Avenida Manco Capác, we encounter Gloria´s husband Martine and our student Jimmy, who is in the midst of mixing concrete for his new house. To our surprise, there are some new houses that have been built by Aportes (long gone). Our students Brayahan, Alison, Jimmy, and Rocio now have concrete blocks within to sleep.

The family is doing well. Everyone is older.

Soon off to Ecuador.

Saturday, June 19, 2010


Brooke - Communitycations is the new socioeconomic sustainability

Anonymous - Jason, you were an accident.

Anonymous - Si yo tuviera una cola pasariamos todo el dia jugando.

Borracho - I just escaped from prison, can you help me with food so the police don't catch me?

Adam - Lomo saltado sin pina.

Brooke - $10 running Nikf shoes.

Juan - Come anytime and we'd love to have you - tenemos ya un cuarto listo para uds.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

¡ It´s electric !

Let me highlight the last 6 days for you!

We landed in Lima, lost a debit card somewhere (haha, I bet you think it was me, debbie!), and then stayed in a gross hotel. Our taxi driver told us that the world cup would start at 6am, but no one woke up that early. Around noon, we managed to get to the bus stop which would take us south. When we plugged in the computer, it sent a shock through Brooke. We decided to (1) call Apple to ask about this electric phenomena and then (2) order our travel insurance to make sure we were covered if the hard drive, camera, or adam got snatched. That took somewhere on the order of 4 hours and then we hopped on a bus for 5 hours. The next afternoon, Brooke managed to make a power strip smoke, blow the electricity for the entire third floor of a hotel, and block Final Cut Pro from being usable. Adam found somewhere to stay for 1.80 per person per night. This very seems expensive to us, and moving there takes all day. Here are some pictures of what we can see outside our window, and Adam taking footage off of our roof. In the upper right hand corner, there is a very very large sand dune. cause we´re in the middle of a desert. Fancy that!

Did I mention that it is the 447t anniversary of the town that we are staying in? There was a march-off: WHICH SCHOOL CAN MARCH THE BEST?!? Every single school in Ica had their kids in uniforms. I think I mentioned this. But Peruvians march funny so its worth mentioning again. This also means that everyone will be drunk on Wednesday.

On Sunday, we decided that we needed bikes to get around because walking is too slow and mototaxis are too expensive. Miraculously, this takes 4.5 hours (despite knowing where to find used bikes), and when we leave, an entire pedal falls off. We also realize that we don´t have locks, and Adam returns to rectify both of these things. Brooke continues onwards, buys tupperware, forks, and snacks. We reconvene for 2.5 hours of Internet.

Monday and Tuesday, we are finally able to work on the documentary for the entirety of two days. We are both tired of staring at the computer screen for so long, but Professor Bald! We´re doing it!
[There used to be this awesome picture of us working on the computer with the storyboard in sticky notes here, but i cant get it to download. BOO!]

Sunday, June 13, 2010


The Peruvian Flag has a vicuna (like a llama), cinchona tree (provides quinine), a cornucopia with gold coins, and a wreath from the Peruvian indígenas Tupac Katari.

Yup, that´s right. We´re back in Peru! But wait.. there´s more:

This blog will follow Brooke and Adam through their adventures in Southern Peru in their attempt to finalize a draft of their documentary (Escuchen! trans. Listen Up!), co-edit with some of their students from
Manco Capac, travel to Tena, Ecuador for a rumble with some fair-trade, chocolate-dealing cacao farmers, and then back to Peru to finish what we´ve started.

The beginning´s been rough with long bus rides and sparse internet connection, but we´ve managed to rent ourselves a nice room near a bustling market. For $1.50 a night per person, it´s not bad! In the morning there is fruit in the market (10 apples for 30 cents) and smoothies (1 cup is about 50 cents) and ten little breads for 30 cents. It´s great, actually.

So, we´ll keep y´all posted on our research, progress, and happenings right here at

As per last year´s requests, we will keep things short and sprinkle our posts with as many pictures as possible.

Buenas noches! Voy a comer mi carapulcra!