Hello again everyone,
It is hot and humid here and we finished planting a series of pepper plants this morning. It is amazing to see how everything that would be considered waste back home is used over and over again here. The coconut husks are not only used as growing pots for the seedlings but also put around the mounded pepper to keep the rain from washing out the soil. There was incident on the day we travelled up the mountain to Komgi (it didn’t quite work out so we were not able to go all the way into Komgi). Somebody, probably someone who heard we were staying here and was passing through, cut out the window to Taylor’s room and stole her backpack. This is immensely unfortunate, especially for Taylor, who lost a number of personally precious items that were in her bag along with her malaria medicine. Obviously this has been individually tough for all of us but none as difficult for Taylor. In the same way that investors and gold mining companies are stealing from the Papua New Guineans here, Taylor has been taken from. It shows that evil, especially theft, act in the exact same way; the criminals are people who do not know on any level the people they are taking from other than what they have that can be taken. This person did not know that we are here to help the process of making sure the very thing he has done will not happen any more to the people of this wonderful place. It is sad and unfortunate but in no way has this jaded our view of the great people who we have met. This only shows that even in the best of places there are bad people and to me, these people, who care nothing for others, have the blackest souls of all. For how can they do a thing like this without thinking of the human being it affects?
Anyway, we have learned of the process for making patchouli, lemon grass, citronella, and cardamom oil and it is all amazing to see. P.S. has their own special way of doing all of this and we look forward to formally documenting. We leave tomorrow for Raunsepna for around ten days (plans are always up in the air here and it is wonderfully laid back). But we will try to send word down with one of the runners.
Much love to all from ENB,
Because we had a little hiccup in the plan, we have been hanging out at the Pacific Spices plantation learning all about the different processes they do here. We learned how to process both black and white pepper, how to grow harvest, cure, cure and dry it. By tomorrow the pepper that we helped harvest will be all dried and ready to be packaged. Monday and Tuesday we focused on pepper but Wednesday we learned all about the processing of patchouli. We harvested it in the field for a good 3 hours and then laid it out to dry in the solar dryer (basically a greenhouse that gets really hot so it dries out anything in it). After lunch we came back and, using patchouli that had already been dried, learned how to get the oil. It goes into a huge vat that has steam the runs through it which essentially makes patchouli tea. The steam that now contains the oil is sent through a condenser and then separated. It was amazing to see that 120 kg of patchouli will only produce about 3 to 5 kg of oil.
Despite the unfortunate event of the break in, the team has gotten a lot closer. Yesterday was Walt’s birthday. The big 19! T and Ian took the four of us, Sharmayne, Sian, Rodney, Kenit, Neville, and Michael out to dinner at a really nice resort on the Bismarck Sea. While we were waiting for dinner, we sat out on the beach and watched as the people on the opposite shore lit their fires for the night. It was so nice look out and not see masses of electric lights. It was beautiful. Tomorrow we really will be going “into the wild” where we will be in Raunsepna for 10 days and then climb the mountain to Komgi and stay there for 3 days. There are runners that come down here all the time so hopefully we will send word back with one of them.
Hope all is well,
As you’ve learned from Katie and Walt, we’ve been quite busy learning about some of the amazing stuff that goes on here at Pacific Spices. We’ve been carefully documenting in written and photographic form the farming and processing techniques that are used here because they truly are unique to this place. Believe it or not, no one associated with Pacific Spices has even seen another processing technique. Theirs was created from a combination of research and trial and error. This kind of ingenuity and creativity are certainly needed in a world where there really isn’t much need for creativity anymore. I’m so impressed by what we’ve learned.
I admit that I hit a rough spot a few days ago when all of my things were stolen from my room. It added a confusing mix of negative emotions to this positive experience, but with the help of my fellow interns and my wonderful family here and at home I’m getting along just fine. As Dave told me in a message sent a few days ago, this will truly be an opportunity for me to test my attachment to material things. We all have our health and each other, and with Sharmayne’s help my malaria meds should be replaced before too long. Walt’s birthday dinner last night was truly lovely, and I’d like to give a happy birthday shout out to Abbie, my sister, who will be turning 15 on June 1st. We’re all very excited to go to Raunsepna tomorrow! I’m not sure exactly what to expect, but I know that we’ll learn a ton and meet some wonderful people. Ben and Christmas, who will be our mommy and daddy at base camp are wonderful people.
I hope that everyone is doing well! We’ll send communication with runners when possible.
Peace and love to everyone,
We’ve learned a lot about some of the basic distilling and harvesting techniques used at Pacific Spices this week. I won’t go over what Katie has already shared for the sake of repetition, but I’ll say that this opportunity is teaching us all sorts of things that aren’t taught in the classroom at University. Not only are we learning the traditional farming techniques and cooking techniques of this specific area of the world, but we’re also all learning how to work with our new friends across language and background differences. We’ve really come together as a team in the last few days, as well, mainly because of Taylor’s bag being stolen. It has acted as a catalyst, because now we all feel free to say what we need to and discuss the things that need to be discussed without feeling self-conscious; two important aspects of a team that are difficult to conjure in the short time we’ve all been working together.
We leave tomorrow for Raunsepna and Komgi. The next few weeks are when we really get into the heritable trust part of this adventure. I’m sure we’ll have a ton to share in the next few posts, so keep an eye out. We’re going where most have not gone before and the results are bound to be life-altering. J
Love and good tidings,