To 18th June: With Marlon and Mayra, and their family, we spent ten days up in El Sontule. Our experiences were many and various, all thoroughly enjoyable. At the end of the ten days we felt like one of the family. Here are some of our memorable moments:
Early morning milking - Don Rogelio showing us how the expert does it
Time to give it a go ourselves
It would have taken us 'til lunchtime to milk the five cows - we gladly handed the job back over to Don Rogelio
Marlon and Ned off for a bike ride
Marlon getting to grips with my bike
Feeding time for the piggies that run riot around the house (and in the house given half a chance!)
Chilling on the veranda
Taking a walk in the coffee plantation
One afternoon we were gladly roped into making ‘rosquillas’ – tasty biscuits. Here’s the (vague) recipe for making a very large quantity – we turned out approximately 300 I reckon.
- a vast quantity of corn dough. There was literally a wall of dough about one metre long, 30cm tall and 30cm thick slapped onto the sideboard in Doña Lucia’s kitchen. We were rather daunted when she beckoned us in to get to work.
- a lot of fresh, creamy, soft cheese and a healthy quantity of butter all mixed into the corn dough
- sugar and flour ‘crumble’ mix
Spend around an hour or more patting the corn dough into little flower shapes. Ned and I watched as our rosquilla colleagues Indira and Mayra deftly created perfect little flowers and slid them onto the trays. Our attempts were a little less uniform, but in the end no less delicious. Sprinkle the ‘crumble’ mix on top. Bake in large wood-fired, earthen oven for 30mins.
Here’s the evidence…
Don Rogelio expertly putting the trays of rosquillas in the oven
Doña Lucia project manages the process
The very large oven
Don Rogelio constantly moves the trays around to make sure that none get burnt - the last thing he wants to do is incur the wrath of Doña Lucia!
The first batch
The proof of the pudding is in the eating - Don Antonio, in his 90s, enjoys the first taste
Don Noel continues working, emptying the baked rosquillas into a huge bucket
Waiting patiently for round two
As we sat in the kitchen enjoying warm rosquillas with fresh coffee a steady stream of neighbours began to arrive enticed by the smell wafting across the fields. Doña Lucia got to work selling the biscuits at C$1 a piece (that’s probably about 5p) and the huge bucket load steadily dwindled.
Off for a horse ride. Now equestrian skill is definitely not my thing, but luckily my caballo, Paco was so laidback that it was difficult to get him to top walking pace!
With Marlon, Santos and a young boy who hitched a ride up to school
Ned and his horse, Chingo, breaking into a short-lived canter
We visited a rural school, inaccessible by vehicle - hence the horses. There were two classrooms for kids aged six to eleven. The young teachers were both 18 and had to juggle classes with students of different grades - this classroom housed 3rd, 4th, 5th and 6th grade. With few resources these schools struggle to provide an education to the kids of the campo.