Friday, October 15, 2010

NHESP 2010 Update 6

Proudly showing our leatherwork in Zuleta

Dear readers,
More than a week ago we packed our bags and started our expedition.  San Clemente seems long ago, but I know our group has preserved the teachings, emotions, and feelings of enlightenment that we all experienced.   When we arrived, we split up into groups of two, and one group of three, and each group joined a family.   San Clemente is a beautiful place hugged by the extinct volcano Imbabura.

Embroidering in San Clemente's Community Center

            Every meal was rich, and we were served like kings and queens, superior to any five-star restaurant in New York City.  To give you a taste of some of the divine food we all indulged in here is a description of a typical San Clementian breakfast we were served:  deep fried empanadas, queso (cheese), scrambled eggs with onions and leeks, warm leche (milk) coffee, tea, arepas(flat bread) with marmalade and butter, and a colorful fruit salad made up of bananas, melón, pina, and mango.
Construction of the adobe house
We talked about the equinox and solstice, and when it’s best to plant and harvest.  We moved a huge rock that was originally carried from the mountains by four men.  It took our whole group and a few more to move it to a garden as a table.  The next project was to construct an adobe house for a 105 year-old woman.  Pigs, scorpions, dogs, and chickens roamed the cobbled roads and green fields of San Clemente. Michael and Iyla had an intense match of mud wrestling, and soon we all were involved.   We saw Tupac´s beautiful house and met his mom, dad, and brothers.  The local women showed us their embroideries on tablecloths, scarves, and shirts.  After some brief lessons, we got started on our own detailed shirts.  At one point while we were embroidering,  Kichwa (the native tongue), Spanish, German, and English were all being spoken at once.  You can imagine the atmosphere.
Jake and Tupac ploughing
The next day, we worked a field with two oxen, and played a huge soccer game down at the local school with family and friends.  Dylan and Gabe scouted some future Ecuadorian National team players and started to train them.  We then ended our day with a delicious dinner of creamy soup with queso, papas (potatoes), peas, and sweet tree tomatoes for dessert.  We went to bed to the loud talk of the sapos (tree frogs.)
Our finished leather work: machete sheaths, book covers
and handbags
Marcela, Michael, and Carina then said farewell and we went on a group solo hike up half of the mighty Imbabura and up to Cubiche --  a mostly vertical climb.  After two hours of hard climbing,  we reached the summit and our eyes were presented with four sapphire lakes.   We cooked, had rhyme sessions, played hackey sack, swam, and watched the sunset all atop of a volcano crater.  The next day, we hiked close to three hours down the face of Cubiche, to a neighbouring town called Zuleta.  Here we met the infamous Herman, a master leatherworker and skilled musician.  He crafts horse saddles, pants, belts, and pretty much anything you can make out of cuero (leather.)  We´ve been learning to use leather to make main lesson books for our graduation and machete sheaths for the jungle.  Working with leather is very intrícate and difficult.  As Herman says “the patience is the art.”  We bought a four-month old, red and white pig from some local farmers and then learned how to properly slaughter a pig from a 75 year-old farmer and his wife.  We decided to fast from the time it was killed to the festivities.  It takes a little more than a day to thoroughly cook a pig in a clay and cob oven.   
Iyla modeling Herman's artwork
Later this week we will be venturing into a remote town called Oyacachi to make bowls, to fish, and to go to some natural hot springs.  You´ll hear from me next as we prepare to cataraft down the Rio Napo.

Working with Herman

Happy Birthday Mom-Connor
Happy Birthday Dad-Dylan


Pedro and Hakeem studying the art of embroidery


-An acrostic poem by Dylan H.D.

"On the road again... "

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