Thursday, July 7, 2011

Fast forward to more recent travels...

This week I visited Jamaica, Peru, Mali, Ghana, Kyrgyzstan, and Colombia. No, I have not won the lottery or become a contestant on the Amazing Race. The Smithsonian Folklife Festival is taking place and the tents were full!

The Peace Corps section included organic farming from Jamaica, weaving from Peru and Kyrgyzstan, pottery from Peru, mudpainting in Mali and shea butter from Ghana. In its own section, Colombia shared coffee, arts, Juan Valdez and Conchita, and a highlight from el Choco.

The Peace Corps volunteers from Jamaica share their recipe for organic pesticide. Yes, it's possible.

The Peace Corps tents were staffed by locals from each country and volunteers. It was great to talk to people from so many nationalities. The gentleman from Mali who helped with the mudpainting actually lives 8 hours away and drove up when he heard that Mali would be represented. Merci!

Set up a demonstration tent where you grind coffee beans, brew them on a hot-plate, pour the beverage and then don't offer it to anyone and all you'll hear from the crowd is "Que antojo! Dónde está el mío?" (Translation: I want one. Where is mine?) This is exactly what happened in the crowd that gathered around Don Jorge from Colombia's Eje Cafetero. The smell was simply tantalizing but for crowd control and hygiene reasons, the coffee was not for tasting!
If you're a coffee lover, start planning your trip to the Eje Cafetero now. They are waiting to welcome you. 
Colombia also invited what we would call artisanal farmers (one of them told me: "This is how we always do things where I'm from") to share their crafts.

From El Choco, a couple of ladies who are Alabadoras- praise givers- at funerals all over Colombia.  They are part of a 12-woman group and were chosen to visit the Festival because they also have extensive knowledge about Zotenas- a form of concentrated/box farming. 

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