Throughout January 2013, former Amizade intern, current Slippery Rock University senior, and winner of PENNACE Student of Year, Grace Evans will be leading three different groups on Amizade Service-Learning experiences in Trinidad & Tobago and Jamaica. Follow along with her adventures here!

 

Cultural activities

We had the pleasure of working with some very talented Matelot natives in exploring the local culture. Michelle, one of the founding members of the Dorca’s Women’s Group spent an afternoon demonstrating head wraps and dress wraps using a Parea, which is a piece of cloth that can be made of a variety of fabrics with different patterns that can be tied or pinned to create head wraps, dresses, skirts, shirts and other articles of clothing.

In addition to learning how to do the wraps and being able to practice them on each other, Michelle taught us about the different occasions in which you may wear the Parea in different ways. I was very eager to try the wraps, and with some help made each of the articles we were shown. We loved this activity! Tesin and Rosie got to be models, as well as Arlene, one of the other Dorca’s members. By the end, even the boys got into it, trying to create new head wraps and make-shift articles.

Another afternoon cultural activity that we participate in was net mending. In our first visit to the fishing wharf on Matelot, we walked through the typical afternoon rain showers to meet Raymond. Raymond is a local fisherman. He spends his days in the small-ish fishing wharf that is perched on the coast, facing a small rocky island only yards from the coast. The air was salty and fishy – local fisherman were tying up small boats and spending the afternoon visiting in this area they call home.

As nets are the primary means for catching fish off the coast of Matelot, net mending is a valuable and practical skill. Raymond taught us how to mend small tears and holes as well as how to patch holes that may be a few square feet. We caught on slowly at first, but soon nearly all of us were wielding the plastic needle-like devise used to thread the replacement netting in and out of the torn areas. We learned how to know and tie off the strings as well as the importance of nimble fingers in this craft.

Raymond was a wonderful, generous man. Although we struggled with learning the ties and knots, he persisted that we were able to learn. He went above and beyond his required class time because in his words, “I want to teach them, it is my gift to them”.

Cooking class

As if I couldn’t rave about the food any more, the last day we spent in Matelot we learned how to make the traditional Trinidadian party food of Mango Chutney and Polore. Sweet with a little kick, the mango chutney is typically eaten with the dumpling-like polore.

Each of us had a chance to try steps in preparing the traditional dish – from grating mango to cutting cilantro to frying dumplings. The results were delicious. To try your own:

Mango Chutney and Polore:

Mango Chutney
1. Peel 6 mangoes – preferably still green and not yet ripe
2. Grate the mangoes using the fine side of a grater
3. Mince 3 or 4 leaves of fresh cilantro and add to mango
4. Grate 3 or 4 cloves of garlic into mango/cilantro mixture
5. Add a pinch of salt and sugar to taste (sugar reduces acid in the mango)

Polore:
1. Start with about 4 cups of flour and add a pinch of salt
2. Add about 3 tbsp of saffron and 3 or 4 leaves of cilantro (minced)
3. Add enough yeast to rise (about one quarter cup)
4. Add about a cup of warm water and mix with hands
5. Add water and mix until well blended and sticky (batter should be yellow-ish)
6. Bring about 2 cups of oil to boil
7. Drop balls of batter into hot oil (about 1-1/2 inch diameter)
8. After they float for two minutes, remove from oil

Serve Mango Chutney and Polore as an appetizer or party food. It is a finger food – use the dumpling to pick up the Chutney to eat.

Keep checking back for more updates from Grace or visit her blog directly at www.graces-adventure.blogspot.com.