Sobrevolando la Calle Santander

This is the video of a song that I wrote while living here in Panajachel, in Guatemala, the latest stop in my journey. It’s been a long stop, since it was over a year and a half that I first got here, but life’s treating me well here, I have friends and I’m living off of the little work that I do, playing music on the streets and in bars and restaurants whenever they let me. Occasionally I get lucky and people whom I meet on the street invite me to special events, such as last Easter, when Mike invited me for a tandem flight after enjoying my music on the street until late one day.

Anyway, in this video you can see most of the town and maybe get an idea of what it is like to live here😉.

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coffee the fromsoiltosoul way

or

lessons on how NOT to make coffee, which lead to how to do it properly…

 

freshly made coffee

a beautiful cup of coffee that I made from scratch this morning, showing the harvest of beans that the coffee came from 

 

Today I spent the morning making coffee from scratch. I had harvested and sun dried some coffee beans from my last home-sit and this morning I was ready and determined to drink some coffee from my own micro-harvest. This is quite a long and involved process, not unlike making chocolate from scratch. These two processes have many similarities, since they both depend on fermenting the seeds/beans, drying them, shelling the beans and then roasting them to develop more flavour.

 

So, here’s a picture of what coffee berries look like in the different stages of the process (I’ll try to include a photo of what they look like on the bush, too):

 

coffee berries in their different processing stages

Clockwise from top left:

  1. ripe coffee berries
  2. whole dried ripe coffee berries (do NOT do this at home – details in text)
  3. crushed dried berries
  4. coffee beans with enclosing parchment
  5. clean-ish coffee beans
  6. roasted coffee beans

So, to make coffee from the coffee bean you basically harvest the ripe coffee berries, then dry them in full sunlight. I did this straight away, with the berries still whole, which was a bad idea. It turns out that the skin and pulp of the berries dry into a hard leather and make the extraction of the coffee beans quite a difficult process, the shelling of which took me the whole morning for less than half a pound of coffee. Not a very efficient way of making coffee, I guess… Another way of doing it is to break the berries when they are still whole and allowing them to dry broken up, thus making subsequent extraction slightly easier. You can find more information about coffee processing and about more sophisticated methods online, such as at the Paradise Coffee Roasters page.

During the drying stage the pulp also ferments, which gives the coffee beans a special aroma. Once fermented and dried you then shell the beans, which will show another thin layer of parchment coating each bean (of which there are usually 2 per berry), something like the almond or walnut skins you find after removing them from their larger outer fruits. These you must remove as well, which can be done by rubbing them against one another and blowing on them to winnow the chaff. Then you have some nice clean coffee beans to roast to your favourite darkness, ready to grind and brew. I ground the beans in a blender that a friend had just lent me in the morning, which didn’t give me the most even grind, but still, enough to keep experimenting with. I brought some water almost to the boil, until it started to send up tiny bubbles, poured the water into the cup of the blender to help wash out even the last little bit of coffee powder and let it stand until most of the bits settled in the bottom. Since I’ve only just moved in and I don’t even have a sieve or colander and didn’t want to use my socks as a filter, I had to then drink the coffee that way, spitting out the floating offenders, but it still made a nice cup of coffee that gave me a bit of a buzz and all!😀

So, knowing that very few of you live in the appropriate climate to even be able to grow the bushes that provide us with this amazing beverage, I still hope that you may be slightly illuminated regarding the process required for you to be able to enjoy your morning brew. For more information about and from the producers themselves I’d recommend you to read when coffee speaks, by Rachel Northrop.

Wishing you all a very good and active day.🙂

roasting coffee beans

roasting the beans in my oh-so-new aluminium pan

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my new guitar case in Guatemalan fabric

Here’s my new guitar case that I got made in Guatemalan traditional fabric. It’s come out beautifully and I’m actually going to get another few made to sell.
Let me know if you’d like to place an order!🙂

front of gig bag

front of gig bag

 

back side of the gig bag

back side of the gig bag

gig bag with guitar

gig bag with guitar

 

detail of neck side pocket (to be zippered in future models)

detail of neck side pocket (to be zippered in future models)

 

detail of strap attachment and hanging loop

detail of strap attachment and hanging loop

 

close-up of front pocket

close-up of front pocket

 

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Tadelakt workshop in San Marcos de Atitlán

Today is the first day of our 2-day workshop, organised by the Return to the Forest Natural Building School, with Fabián Montes de Oca as the instructor, from the Superadobe Mexico network.

Tadelakt Workshop at the Return to the Forest site in San Marcos de Atitlán

Tadelakt Workshop at the Return to the Forest site in San Marcos de Atitlán

Doing our test run on a tile the day before the workshop

Doing our test run on a tile the day before the workshop

Burnishing the plaster with stones for its polished finish

Burnishing the plaster with stones for its polished finish

The test tile looking beautiful

The test tile looking beautiful

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rabbit roast night

Here are some photos of a self-sufficiency roast night that went down at the Yoga Forest, a yoga, meditation and Permaculture retreat in San Marcos. I’m posting only the photos of the rabbit roast, but there was also plenty of pizza to go around including vegetarian options.

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bamboo architecture in San Marcos de Atitlán

When arriving in San Marcos de Atitlán from across the lake on a boat, you can’t help but being struck by the beauty of its most remarkable bamboo structure, the Tai Chi Temple. This temple is built on a cement foundation, but the last and most visible part of it is entirely made of bamboo and wood, although reinforced with steel where necessary.

In the neighbouring villages on either side of San Marcos, you have two other awe-inspiring natural buildings using bamboo structures, the Methodist Clinic in San Pablo towards the west and the Bamboo Hotel in Tzununa towards the east.

All of these buildings, and many other privately owned houses that I can’t show here, have been built by Charlie Rendall from the Return to the Forest Natural Building School.

So here is a showcase of some of these remarkable buildings, with some images of the building stages of the Bamboo Hotel that I was fortunate enough to participate in.

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home-made mustard

home-made mustard

home-made mustard

Here’s a photo of my last experiment in the kitchen: home-made mustard!

I had a bag of mustard seeds that I had brought with me from Costa Rica which I was not really using a lot, neither in the kitchen or in the garden, until I thought of grinding them up to make mustard.

I first went about it by toasting them and grinding them up dry, but that just produced a very spicy but kind of disgusting paste that hastily made its way to the compost bin. So I researched the topic online and found quite a few recipes, which opened up the possibilities and showed me what was wrong in my approach. So I then proceeded to soak the seeds and then ground them wet, adding some of my also home-made pineapple vinegar, which gives it a lovely fruity aroma, and some extra garlic for flavour and added health benefits.

So, if you happen to have some extra mustard seeds lying about the pantry, don’t hesitate, grind them up into your own home-made mustard sauce and enjoy them in salad dressings, on steaks, or as I did on some Indian chickpea pancakes.

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