Wednesday was a fabulous day filled with canoe rides on the Napo River, watching cacao famers climbing easily into the top of trees to get us wonderfully sweet seed pods, tasting the meat of fresh cacao fruit, watching the cacao farmer and a leader of Kallari make a small thatch roof, getting my face painted with a plant that his daughters found (red seeds make the paint), learning about the process of growing cacao, learning about a plant that seems to do everything for them (the plant makes thatch roofs, panama hats, toys, provides shade, and is edible), watching someone eat the grub of the palm tree, and most importantly learning how Kallari really changed his life. We had a lunch of fruit from the farm and it was more than plenty. The farmer’s wife offered us “chicha” (I don’t know how Teo got out of it), I was obligated to drink at least some…I was glad I allowed Carlos to help me drink the rest because Fernando and Veronica both got a little sickly. Yesterday we found out that this farmer (Cesar) was featured in the New York Times in a story about Kallari, read it here. After leaving the farm we got to see monkeys (woohoo, I love monkeys!), the biggest rodent in the world, ocelots, turtles, parrots, more monkeys (woohoo, I love monkeys!), and some other interesting creatures of the Amazon. It was quite a long day filled with learning, absorbing the culture, and thinking about how all this information can be incorporated into our project.
Yesterday was a fabulous day filled with informing Kallari on how they can improve their existing facilities, giving the information on how we can turn this dream into reality, informing them of the architectural process, brainstorming on ideas on how to put the existing project into the new site, eating cooked grubs, talking philosophy at the end of the day with Carlos, talking about how we can make even more of an impact with this dynamic organization. Their quiet ways that they have changed so much here is infectious. We can’t help but want to do more for them.
Today we have decided against the rafting trip they had planned for us, and have opted to have another working session with them, reinforcing the same things we went over yesterday. Teo is keen on getting more design time in (way to go master designer). The rest of us are keen on making sure that we have enough to complete the process when we leave.
The sun has been shining for three days now, the city is coming to life, and its going to be hard to leave this wonderful place.