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: