March 17-23, 2014
As part of the second module of a six phase project called Programa Modulo de Capacitacion Ambiental (PMCA) or Modular Environmental Training (MET), we traveled with the CEDESOL team to the countryside of Chuquisaca to hold educational workshops for the representatives of various pueblos. These training workshops fall under the larger project “Women as Agents of Change”, a program which works to uplift women in rural areas because they are considered the primary users, beneficiaries and innovators of clean cookstoves in their communities and societies.
After a long night of organizing, packing (an absurd amount of food, potable water, and multiple awkward shaped cookstoves—we’re amazed it all fit!) and driving, we arrived eight hours later in Sotomayor. We knew we would be going to the countryside, but differences between the city and country were more than we imagined. Sotomayor is a small town that feels like it has a population of about 500 inhabitants and about 200 houses, with the majority of homes equipped with ecological cookers. But as small as it felt to us, with its dirt roads and quaint hospital (where we slept), it was actually the largest town for some kilometers and we were welcomed warmly.
Our part in the project was primarily to prepare meals and refreshments for the participants by means of CEDESOL ecological technology. We brought with us the Rocket stove, two solar cookers and a heat-retention cooker. The women were extremely helpful and eager to teach us the Bolivian manner of cooking. And even though communication between us was limited—because most of them only speak Quechua and we only speak Spanish—we were able to understand each other with a language of gestures, facial expressions and common desire to learn from each other.
Elise and some participants preparing a beetroot salad Courtney, Elise and Mirta, a hospital nurse pose with fresh vegetables ready to be cooked!
It was delightful every time for us and for them to see the food well prepared and fully cooked from seemingly simple technology
The route from Sotomayor to Yamparaez proved to be one of the most adventurous parts of the trip because we hitched a ride with a truck carrying a cargo of gas tanks and crates of bottled beer. We and ten other people from the country, some with up to ten large bags of vegetables, sat bouncing and falling while the truck carried us over rocky roads and along mountainsides.
In Yamparaez, we were equipped with the experience and expectations from Sotomayor and ready to execute another successful workshop. But this time, we lacked an important commodity of which we are very accustomed: running water. Along with our jugs of drinking water, we had just one large container of water for three days of washing dishes, cooking, washing our hands, and flushing the toilet.
The driver of the project, Guadalupe, draws the attention of the group to the heat retention cooker as an ecological method to cooking rice
What a pleasant surprise to see the steam of fully cooked chicken and pasteurized water!
We left Sotomayor and Yamparaez with a greater appreciation for Bolivian recipes, a sharper understanding of CEDESOL technology, and a more complete vision of life in rural Bolivia.
Elise from Paris, France
Adrien from Gers, France
Courtney from San Francisco, USA