Sunday, May 18, 2014

Get nuts for nuts!

This season is a very busy season for all here in Guinea Bissau.  It's cashew time.

Maybe after this blogpost, you will learn why cashews are so expensive in America.  Unfortunately, I only have pictures of the very beginning of the cashew process, but my team mate Andrew did a very nice video that I would recommend you watch  He explains the entire process in great detail.

On the way out to some of the cashew orchards, you cross over rice fields.  Here, women are burning grasses, which they will eventually use for fertilizer.

A deeper look into the orchards

After what is remotely like a 4 hour candy scramble (bent in half, picking up cashews one by one), you get comfortable on whatever rock or log you can find and dig in!  One by one, you twist the nut off the fruit. The nicer fruits are saved in a tub to make juice.

After all that hard work, Mariama is finishing up some left-over lunch.  By this time of day, it's about 5pm.  Women will tote juice, buckets, leftover nuts that didn't fit in the sack, their kids, firewood, etc and head for home where they will shower, get water and start cooking supper.

Alfuseni is gathering up his handful of nuts that he set aside for roasting.  He will soon tie a full feed sack of cashew nuts we picked today on the back of the bicycle and pedal home.  Alfuseni is about 12 years old.

The rest of the process is explained in Andrew's video that I mentioned earlier.  All that day's work, and guess what they sell each kilo (about 2.2 pounds) of raw, unprocessed nuts for.  

50 cents.  

That's right.  And this commodity is what floats and drives this ENTIRE economy of Guinea Bissau.  It gives a new perspective to eating those yummy nuts, doesn't it?

Food for thought for your Sunday.

From a hot and humid Guinea Bissau,

Saturday, May 10, 2014

Un di Mayo

So, you've heard of "Cinco de Mayo," (a Mexican holiday celebrating the Battle of Puebla) but I'll bet this is the first time that you've heard of "Un di Mayo".  If you ask people on the streets of Guinea Bissau, many will tell you "It's just a holiday."  Very few know the reason behind the holiday, but it has been an excuse for young people to have sex, get drunk, and "live life up."  People flood the beaches and will spend hundreds of dollars on food and drinks for the weekend (huge money here).

Something we've been sorting through as a church here is what cultural things do we keep, what are some things that we need to let go, and what are some things that we can still celebrate in a clean and God-honoring way.

A group of my church friends and I decided that we could still have good, clean fun on "Un di Mayo".  We went down to the "beach" of Catel (the rice dike) and set up a picnic.  We took lots of pictures, blared the radio, had a special meal of spaghetti instead of rice, and drank soda. Later, we sat around and talked and ate a Senegalese rice dish.  We had such a fun night celebrating friendship!  Here's a peek into our evening:

Adramane and his cousin Gibby enjoyed Catel's "beach"

Nyima and I relaxed by the water.

Bintu at our picnic area showing off the yummy food!

Me, Sadja, and Nyima pause for one of many many pictures.

Nyima, me, and Adama pretend to be "ganstas".  I didn't get the "let's be serious" message.

After an evening at the "beach," Nyima and I (and others) hung out and took more pictures.  Look at that joy!

Hoping that you, also, enjoyed your first of May!