Oct 28, 2008

Adios, For Now!

In the end we became the ultimate surf sacrifices. We took one for the team as we left pumping surf to jump in the taxi and head to the airport for home. Yet it was time for us to go, and we were sent off with a magnificent bang!

Our last few weeks in Barra were bursting with activities. We had projects to finish, travel plans to arrange, catching up with friends to do, and had some great parties to attend.

October 12th marked Barra’s 43th anniversary commemorating the formation of the Collectivo, a formal agreement between the residents of Barra to work together and share resources.

photo by Kale Gray

The festivities begin with the Convite de Flores, which consists of a parade of ladies, or tejuanas, dressed in their finest regional wardrobe of intricately embroidered velvet blouses walking through town accompanied by a marching band.

Kemi, Aubrey, and Julieta had the honor to be chosen to participate in the parade. They had made so many friends with the local women that they dressed them up in the gowns and treated them like family. Aubrey looked so beautiful in the velvet blouse!

photo by Kale Gray

The women carry baskets of fruit and snacks on their heads, and circle the town ending up at the church to make offerings. Then they descend the hill upon which the church stands and hurl the fruit at a crowd of hungry and ecstatic children. The kids scramble for the fruit as it flies through the air, trying not to get banana slapped. The parade ends with everyone dancing in the streets to live music, amidst the smell of fresh peeled mandarins.

But this was just the beginning. The next day firecrackers start at 5:30 a.m. to wake the town for morning mass. We were tempted to go, as they serve fresh hot chocolate and homemade bread following the service. We opted to sleep off the cervesas from the night before.

Mid-day mass is followed by more food, and evening mass starts the real party at the Agencia Municipal, or community center. The entire town, including all guests and travelers are treated to a fabulous meal of birria (stewed beef) and tamales.

The beer flowed like water, and the little Coronitas went down fast. Multiple bands lit up the stages with high energy to get the people moving. The grandmas are the ones who take over the dance floor!

Lo enjoying some Tamales!

photos by Kale Gray

The party goes on all night, with many people taking breaks to shower and then come back until the wee hours. We danced until Aubrey wore holes in her sandals!

Later that week we were surprised by the arrival to Barra of my cousin Jeremy Sherwin and his dad, Louie. Jeremy rides for Reef and absolutely rips. He tore the little Barra zippers to shreds.

photo by Louie Sherwin

Jeremy is working with the Reef Redemption Program, which has as one goal to use more environmentally friendly materials in the manufacture of their products. They are also reducing waste during production, and using salvaged building materials in the construction of their stores and factories.

photo by Louie Sherwin

After finishing the Slow Sand Filter we moved on to build a Composting Toilet for Pepe’s Cabanas. Pepe is planning on expanding his business by adding more Cabanas. He is excited to try new ways of dealing with human waste that keeps it out of the ground water. Worms present in the toilet consume the human waste and convert it to fertilizer. The whole setup cost around US$50 to build. (Download plans for Composting Toilet)

The last night of our stay, Pepe and his sister Novy treated us and a special crew of our traveling compadres to a fine home cooked traditional meal of mole, which is basically chocolate chicken.

Kale Gray from Oregon, and his partner Pepa from Australia, were a part of the crew. They rocked up to Barra a few weeks after we did and parked up along side us, becoming our faithful and fun neighbors for the rest of the trip. Kale is an amazing photographer (note photo credits) and Pepa is a super creative artist who helped me get crazy with the spray paint (check their blog).

There were also the Canadians, aka “Canooks”, who graciously swept into town and literally swept it up! They were an amazing energetic crew who lead beach clean-ups and are even planning to start fundraising to get “Books for Barra”, a Library for the town.

It was so incredible to meet so many inspired and motivated people who are all uniquely sharing their gifts and taking positive action.

Aubs taking a late one

The next morning, the day of our departure, we hit the dawn session on the point. It was absolutely firing! It was the best day we had seen since the day we arrived two months earlier. It was definitely a bittersweet goodbye, as we peeled ourselves out of the ocean so we could catch a cab to the airport. It was a good way to leave, though, and we will have the memory of those waves in our minds when we return in four months!

photos by Louie Sherwin

We left our truck Ellie in Barra. She is sleeping peacefully under the shade of the tamarind tree. We will return in late February after visiting our families for the holidays and working a bit. We plan on continuing on south, to Panama.

photo by Kale Gray

Team SWoBs are now home, enjoying the wonderful Santa Barbara sunshine. We made it in time for Grammies 76th Birthday, Cousin Noals Wedding, and caught the tail end of Internatinal Natural Building Colloquium at the Orella Ranch. We feel so blessed to have an ever expanding amazing group of family and friends!

While home we are working on raising funds for the continuation of our journey and work. We will keep you all posted on upcoming fundraising events, which are sure to be great parties!

Photo by Kale Gray

Many, many blessing and thanks to all who have supported us along the way!

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