Well, today was our last day building pilas. In total, we finished 10 pilas within the Santa Julia community. To break it down: That’s ten pila holes excavated; 40 small pieces of wood hammered to keep the tops sturdy and 40 large pieces of wood to build those tops; 20 pieces of mesh to serve as the pila’s filter, 20 pieces of tarp-like plastic to line the pilas; 50 spear-shaped tree branches, “estacas.” planted in the ground to keep the pila plastic in place; endless rolls of duct tape; endless rolls of string; and an endless amount of hammering, raking, shoveling, digging, and, throughout the entire process, smiling (cheesy I know).
The day started with a mobile ASB concert on the way to Lola’s house to finish the coffee process. Taylor Swift’s new album, “1989,” was blaring, and so were the dog-summoning pitches of our team. Anyway, we learned how to clean, toast and grind the coffee beans. What made the morning even better was that we were working with the coffee beans we had picked and peeled on Monday.
Before finishing the last of the grinding and bagging of the coffee, we needed to finish our pilas. So, we divided in to two larger teams. One team finished the pila at Alfonzo’s house, and the other finished the pila at Guillermo’s house. To celebrate the completion of our beautiful rain harvesters, we then gathered for lunch, pinolillo and a few energizing minutes of the game, “steal the bacon.”
Now, back to the beans. I say “beans” instead of “coffee beans” because when we went back to Lola’s house, we literally smashed the dried pinto bean plant while waiting for the rest of our coffee to be ground. The way Nicaraguans “pick” pinto beans is by gathering the sun-dried crop on top of a large tarp, and then beating the crop with sticks so that the beans simply fall out of their pods. It’s a great way to release some tension as well. After smashing and collecting pint beans, it was on to bagging the ground coffee.
After measuring, pouring, securing and sealing, we had packed 18 bags. Mac even translated the story of the Santa Julia coffee that is pasted on the back of each printed bag. Once we made it back to the community center, it was officially DANCE TIME! Kati and Lauren choreographed a simple enough dance for the local children (as well as the rest of us). Although not many children participated, they absolutely loved watching us make fools of ourselves. We found out they like freestyle dancing more than anything, afterward. It was quite a sight.
After dinner and showers at the hotel, we headed off to “Tamazcal” for a long, relaxing reward. Tomorrow, we have the sixth grade graduation, going away party for us and the Christmas party all in one. It will definitely be bittersweet.