MEETINGS AT BRILLO NUEVO AND 3-D "TELEPHONE" GAME WITH ARTISANS We got to Brillo Nuevo last Wednesday night, set up our travel hammocks, ate some tuna fish for dinner, covered up the perishable food to protect it from cockroaches and mice and went to sleep. We had a long meeting with the community on Thursday morning which was pretty rough for while - lots of comments from artisans about issues they were having with other artisans. While one fellow suggested that CACE should leave the community, I was relieved and happy that most artisans and others said that while there were issues that needed to be worked out to improve communication, trust and civility between the artisans, they said that CACE was not responsible for these and they thought we were doing a good job and wanted to keep working with us on the craft development and forestry projects to come. Sharing my thoughts and repsonses to questions push my Spanish abilities to their limit. We met the artisans in the afternoon. This was a lot more fun since it involved doing some team-building games (thanks to my colleagues at Shaver's Creek Team Building Center for nice ideas), discussion of how we wanted to try again to work with small groups, not individual artisans, and then reviewed and paid for the crafts they brought to fulfill last order. Pics below are of one game that's kind of like telephone except it involves a team working together to assemble a structure. 1. Team A with one or two people look at a picture of a group of 15 objects on a computer that are put together in a certain way. They then verbally describe five of these objects and what their relative positions are to the one or two people in Team B. 2. Team B then goes to the "store" with multiple objects spread around and tries to pick out the 5 objects described to them. 3. Team B then takes these objects to Team C and describes to them how they think these objects should be positioned relative to each other. 4. Team C then takes the objects toTeam D and explains to them how they think the objects should be assembled. 5. Team D then takes the objects to a staging area and tries to assemble them based on the instructions they received. One of the facilitators (in this case me) is on hand with a picture of the correctly assembled objects and tells Team D first if they have all of the correct objects. If they don't they need to pass the wrong object(s) back down the chain and try to get the right one. If the positioning is wrong, they also need to describe how they have done it down the chain and get updated feedback from Team A how to do it right. 6. The process then continues with the second and third set of objects 7. At the end of 20 minutes the team gets 3 points for each object that matches the correct one in the photo and 0-4 points for how well each one is placed in relation to its correct position (maximum 90 points for perfect score). We had three groups that did this and 3 other games in a circuit. The group with the best score on this game got 68 points. One motivation for this game was to help the artisans appreciate the importance of accurate communication of ideas, concepts and information. It was not an easy game, but they had fun.
GETTING STUFF DONE IN IQUITOS
While it can be very hard to get certain kinds of things done in Peru in an efficient way (like standing in line for hours to pay a bill at a bank), it’s a fun adventure to get other stuff done in a fun, timely and affordable way. I went out on Sunday to get some basic supplies for our house and got most of them at a modern store called Quispe, but right around the corner I found a fellow named Elmo who is the owner of one of the typical mobile micro-stalls (about 3 x 2 x 5 feet) that is his shop for his business to make copies of keys and help people with other kinds of locks. He first used one of those simple machine to make a rough cut of the key copy from the original. He then used a narrow grinder to fine-tune the copy.
I was really impressed that he used a hand caliper to measure the depth of each notch in the original key and the copy he was making. He eyeballed any minute differences because the calipers had no graduated lines on them. Elmo had been doing this work for 30 years so I felt pretty confident that his keys that cost me $1.25 each to make would work. He gave me his phone number to reach him just in case. His copies got me in my house just fine, but I’d like to see him again just to learn more about his life.
While the lease that we signed to rent our new house for CACE in Iquitos said everything was in good working order, we’ve discovered a few things that needed fixing to make the place more comfortable, safe and functional for our needs. As soon Tulio moved into the house, he met our neighbor Jorge who quickly became our go-to motorcar driver. When we mentioned to Jorge yesterday that we had a few plumbing issues that needed tending to, he said he had a friend who could handle them.
Julio showed up ten minutes later. They quickly determined that the threads in the faucet in the kitchen sink were stripped, the sink in my bathroom was leaking because the pipe under it was totally rusted through, and the sink in Tulio’s bathroom was clogged and just needed cleaning. After several trips to the hardware store to get various new pipes, glue, and tape, Julio donned my headlamp and used his and Jorge’s collection of old saws and wrenches to replace or clean all of the degraded items.
Julio returned this morning and spent the better part of the day doing four more tasks: 1) installing new pipes connecting our elevated water tank in the back patio to faucets in the work sinks so we could distill our rosewood material with an abundant supply of cooling water, 2) installed a new section of mosquito netting in my bedroom, 3) installed a new section of mosquito netting in the space above my bathroom, and 4) fixed up a wire in the back patio that was loosely connected by duct tape that was hanging out of a busted piece of PVC pipe.
We paid a total of about $25 in materials and $50 in labor for all seven jobs and everyone felt good about the tasks that were done. Julio looked around the house as he was leaving and said “please call me if you need anything done. I can fix your roof, put up a wall…….” Tulio told me tonight that Julio is someone who is referred to here as a “mil oficios” – someone who can do a thousand things. I know we have handymen in the US, too, but I’m awfully glad that I met Julio here.
STINGLESS BEES AT CHINO One of the houses I also visit first at Chino belongs to the veteran artisan Romelia and her husband Jorge. Jorge is one of the folks in the village who has maintained several wooden box nests with stingless bees as part of a honey producing project developed under the guidance of German Perilla from George Mason University in Virginia. While these bees don't produce as much honey as their stinging honeybee counterparts, their honey is highly valued for its strong flavor and medicinal properties.
During my last visit, Jorge's nest boxes were in his back yard. This time, he had placed both at opposite ends of his kitchen to keep a closer eye on them. I took several shots of bees coming and going out of the entrance tube as well as the guard which is always on duty to prevent the entrance of unwelcome visitors (other bees, flying ants, etc.) who might wish to invade to prey on their young.
Check out the video Beekeeping in the Amazon (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ca2kYBJN4tI) focused on a stingless bee project developed with Maijuna native communities by OnePlanet.Org and its director (and CACE board member) Michael Gilmore.