I gen­er­al­ly find it bet­ter when peo­ple cor­rect my Span­ish mis­takes, but I under­stand why some­one would choose to let a repeat­ed mis­take pass. I have done the same in Eng­lish many, many times because I under­stood what the per­son was say­ing and for a host of oth­er rea­sons. So these days, I try to just ask when I’m not sure of a word, espe­cial­ly when I’m try­ing to do some­thing, like explain­ing the func­tion­ing of the solar stove. If I’m get­ting blank stares, then I know that my guess­ing at the main word in my expla­na­tion has been wrong. For exam­ple, the word could be the dif­fer­ence between say­ing “rays” and “stripes” — “rayos” and “rayas” in Span­ish. I was appar­ent­ly explain­ing how the reflec­tor focus­es the sun stripes to the mid­dle of the reflec­tor. Once we had cor­rect­ed this word to rays, the expla­na­tion went much bet­ter. I knew that these were two dif­fer­ent words and I had just for­got­ten which was for which. I took a guess, and that 50–50 did­n’t go my way. I am suf­fi­cient­ly shamed since my sci­en­tif­ic “exper­tise” is in x‑ray char­ac­ter­i­za­tion tech­niques, but it is appar­ent how rarely I have to dis­cuss my back­ground in detail.

This all occurred this past Wednes­day at the final solar oven work­shop in round 2. For me, this was the third and final com­mu­ni­ty. We had the best weath­er pos­si­ble for cook­ing with solar stoves, and the results were amaz­ing. Every­thing cooked beau­ti­ful­ly and faster than expect­ed. We had anoth­er nice vari­ety for lunch includ­ed nopales (cac­tus pads), chard, lentils, chile rel­lenos, gar­ban­zos, a few meat dish­es, spiced apples, and choco­late cake. I think we actu­al­ly over­cooked the cake a tiny bit, but the icing com­pen­sat­ed for the slight dry­ness of the cake. The atmos­phere for the day was wonderful.

The final round of work­shops will be in a few weeks, hope­ful­ly after the women have been cook­ing with the stoves over those weeks. We will go back to each com­mu­ni­ty to dis­cuss their suc­cess­es or issues, and gath­er advice from them. We espe­cial­ly needs some tips on how to cook rice prop­er­ly in the solar oven. They have a work­sheet on which to record each time they cooked with the solar oven, the weath­er, the results, and any com­men­tary. If they decide that they don’t want the oven after this tri­al peri­od, they can return it and get their mon­ey back. It’s good tim­ing that the weath­er has switched over to full Spring­time here, which is the hottest time of the year. The sun is so strong that you have to seek out any scrap of shade you can find when walk­ing down the street. They will have the best chance to use and get good results from the stoves.

Also, I got one of the pho­tos from last week into a Huff­in­g­ton Post arti­cle about “Peace Corps Week.” Like I said, I knew it was the mon­ey shot, or some­thing like that but with­out the mon­ey part: