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July 1, 2021

Festival de Platano
By Molly and Sophia

What a fantastic day. This marks the halfway point of our adventures away from home, immersed in a new and inspiring environment. We, two volunteers from the team, have a lot to share about our experience today. This morning we held the Festival de Platano. The cocineras at Rio Muchacho (the ecofarm we are currently staying at) taught us the significance of plantains in their culture. We learned how to prepare four main dishes; sopa de boles de verde, torta de verde, chifles, and empenadas. We started the process at the harvest of the plantain tree. We learned about how the farmers at Rio Muchacho replant new sprouts every harvest so they have a continuous supply and keep the cycle going for the future. We then eagerly brought the plantain harvest to the kitchen to peel and begin preparation for each dish. We were in awe with the efficient handiwork of the cocineras, and lots of teamwork and some fast thinking got the job done.

After working for several hours to prepare the food for the day, we had a relaxing break with clay masks. While we worked on grinding the clay rocks into a fine powder, we learned about the spirituality and health benefits of the masks from Dario, who is the owner of Rio Muchacho. The clay removed impurities while pulling the grime from our skin during the drying process, tightening the skin and leaving it soft and fresh. It is said to show your true spirit and is often used in meditation. It helps with relaxation by cooling down the temperature of your skin. We all felt rejuvenated after a long day of work.

Here at AMIGOS, we not only seek to gain a deeper understanding and connection with the culture that we are immersed in, but also to strengthen the bonds between members of our own group. Our members come from many different communities and upbringings, giving us a lot to share and learn each day. Today we focused on one on one connections with other volunteers and paired off to discuss some thought-provoking questions. This helped us not only get to know others well, but take a moment to look inside ourselves. This has been a common theme throughout the whole trip as we have been confronted with unfamiliar living conditions, languages, food, people, and lifestyles. With all of these changes from our daily lives, each volunteer has had the chance to look within ourselves and see our home life from another perspective, becoming more grateful for what we have. Being thrown into a new experience has had a deeply personal impact on our entire worldview, rippling into all other aspects of our lives beyond this one trip. We savored each bite of the empanadas with a greater understanding of their cultural significance, as well as the hard work and collaboration that goes into just one meal.