"Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things you didn't do than by the ones you did. So throw off the bowlines.

Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover." -Mark Twain

Hard Work and Great Rewards

>> Wednesday, March 13, 2013

          No one was awake until we found ourselves piled in the back of a small foreign pick-up truck, laughing the whole way. When we arrived at the cocoa plantation, we were confronted with several run down stone and concrete buildings filled with bats. We split into groups and some went to sort cocoa beans, which was a fairly simple task.  Everyone else went for a short 10-15 minute walk to a steep, open field. Some of us were given cutlasses and were told to clear all the weeds and under brush. Everyone else used pitchforks and shovels.  I have personally dug many holes in different types of soils in a wide range of temperatures, but never have I seen soil so dry and hard in my life. Plus, the temperature was rising throughout the day to 95 degrees.  Piece by piece, hole-by-hole, 100 holes were dug.  100 small cocoa plants were placed in the ground. At times, it took two people twenty minutes to dig one hole with a two-foot diameter and a 1.5-foot depth.
            By 11:30, we were all starving but also, we were done. Instead of immediately going to get something to eat, we found a river. As we all waded in, you could see the relief on everyone’s face. From 95 degrees and working harder than ever, to relaxing in nice, cool, fresh water, we felt great. I was the first one to reach the plantation and the last one to leave. I felt great, knowing that we made the owner’s day and he was very appreciative.
            As we left the plantation now by foot, we all felt like we’d accomplished something big. We walked proud, waving, saying hi to the locals, or at least most of us did. When we arrived at the beach, we were greeted with Roti in a calabash bowl. Inside the chicken roti, there was chicken, chickpeas, potato, and curry sauce. When we were full, we split off to play soccer, Frisbee, or walk on the beach. Some people talked with one another or slept (the sleeping was a result of waking up at 0400 AM and working hard all day.)
            Around 2:30 PM, we started pealing, cutting, and squeezing fruit and vegetables for dinner. Dinner was called “oil down”. From the sound of it, we didn’t know what to expect. Everyone who had knives started to cut the fruit and vegetables. We had breadfruit, coconut, yam, plantains, onions, chicken, carrots, squash, tamarind, grapefruit, passion fruit and oranges. All mixed together, it would fill ¾ of a pick up truck. We cooked for 50 people, including all the crew, students and locals who helped us with planting or driving the taxis. Basically, all that was chopped was rinsed and put in a large pot and then covered with large banana leaves and placed over a fire. When it was done (and time was not kept), we piled it in the calabash bowls and ate it. The taste was like nothing I’ve ever had at home, and I honestly don’t know how to describe it. Imagine a lot of fruit and vegetables cooked, mixed and served to you. It was hard work, but it felt great when it was done. Accomplishment!! For the most part, everyone enjoyed it. By this time, it was pitch black and we could hardly make out what we were eating. It was a great day ashore, full of hard work, but still a great day!

Hi to everyone at home. Everything is great down in the Caribbean. I’ll see most of you in June when we arrive back in Maine.

Myron Hahn


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