Friday, July 11, 2008

Taking Data and Touring a Farm

Wednesday we went to the village Danta Uno, and spent the day interviewing people, seeing their homes, building relationships, and taking GPS coordinates of the homes.

Kim, Nicole, and Jason went house to house and learned that, on average, the village family uses a kerosene-burning "candil" for 2.2 hours per day, using kerosene that costs 18 Limpiras per liter (about $4 per gallon) and uses two pairs of D-size flashlight batteries per month. This costs them about $1.86 per week. We also were able to put the GPS coordinates into Google Earth and make a map of the village, shown below.

Their flashlight batteries are not disposed of properly. Frankly, they litter a lot. I know this is a generalization, but I have seen it over and over again. Driving behind a bus the other day, they were tossing handfuls of trash out the window, and even my Honduran partners will throw gum wrappers out of a car window without a second thought.

While Jason, Kim, and Nicole did these things, Ryan and I spent time talking in depth with one of the more wealthy and supportive village men who gave us a tour of his farm. First, he chopped open some coconuts with his machete and let us drink the coconut water and eat the meat, an act that landed Ryan on the toilet later. Then we walked to his plantain plantation, shown below. He has 1100 plantain trees, each producing a couple of bunches per year. He said that with irrigation, his crop would increase a lot. He is interested in using electricity to power a water pump.

The owner and his son are on the left, and Sergio our taxi-driving translator from the city is on the right. He has been invaluable this week.

This is rambutan. It's a strange little fruit that turns red when it's ripe. You peel off the skin and suck the meat off of a pit. It has a great flavor, but these are not ripe yet.

Further up the hill, he has yucca plants. These are stalks about two inches in diameter, and about 6-7 feet tall. If you pull the stalk out of the ground, the roots have these yucca bulbs which are cut off and put in a pile. Then the stalks are replanted and produce another crop.

Furthermore, I learned that the milk from yucca is poisonous (Ryan didn't try this). When it is cooked, however, it can be eaten as a potato-like starch. This particular batch of yucca was two years old, and therefore not fit for humans. It gets too tough for people, but pigs like it. Therefore, this batch was being sold to a pig farmer.

Finally, we came across a batch of sugar cane. Our host cut us a piece with all the skill of a chef at Benihana. Here is a little video:

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