July 30, 2012
This Sunday CEDESOL had the chance to show off its stoves at the Tarata Wheat Festival. Through some minor miracle, we managed to pack large and small solar cookers, a rocket stove, an industrial ecological stove, a tent, two tables, six chairs, assorted cooking supplies, and ingredients into a Ford Expedition and set off into the countryside. Tarata is a major rural town close to Cochabamba, famous for its lovely colonial architecture and as the birthplace of former Bolivian president Mariano Melgarejo. I had enjoyed our last trip there collecting surveys from educational leaders, and was looking forward to seeing a different side of the town.
The festival was large and vibrant, filled with agricultural representatives selling their goods and a heavy bustle of visitors. Under an enormous awning, live bands played in a variety of styles, mixing traditional Bolivian music with more contemporary sounds. An inflatable slide and a merry-go-round were set up for the kids. Although most festivalgoers hailed from the nearby area, we met tourists from as far away as Miami, Florida.
stage area at La Ferria de Trigo
After setting up in our corner near the concert awning, we focused on demonstrating the efficiency of the ecological cooking systems and talking to visitors about CEDESOL’s work. The hot Andean corn drink api cooked nicely in the industrial stove, intended for schools and other organizations, while potatoes and carrots baked in the solar cookers under the bright sun.
We interns had met with a bit of skepticism from the rest of the CEDESOL team when we wanted to make banana crepes for the festival on the rocket stove. Wheaty or not, they aren’t exactly a typical rural Bolivian dish. Naturally, we proved their worries unfounded by cooking up a batch for the office on Friday. Sally’s amazing crepes convinced everyone that they would be a good choice.
crepes and bananas cooking in plenty of butter on the rocket stove
We did hear “What’s that?” a few times at the festival, but the most frequent question (both for the crepes and the stoves) was “How much does it cost?” Many people enjoyed the free food, and many more stopped in their tracks to check out the cooking systems and learn a bit about our mission.
curious festival-goers stop by for pancakes, api, and trigo
It was a great change of pace from the usual day at the office or collecting surveys in the countryside, and I hope that we encouraged some people to bring ecological cooking into their lives.