I like coming up with witty titles too much to not in this case, but actually it was quite an honor to attend and receive a plaque in recognition of the work we having been doing with the solar ovens during the solar oven festival today. The real shame was that Sarah couldn’t be there to receive the recognition as well, since I think of this as her project that I have been fortunate enough to help with. The event of the day was a demonstration of the solar stoves in the municipal seat of the six smaller communities that have the solar stoves – Huimilpan, Querétaro. The full event name was the First Festival of Solar Cooking Huimilpan 2012. We counted 65 of the 80 solar stoves, and the women from the communities had cooked every variety of dish – of course including cake. Several types of cake. I was busy taking video and pictures, but I still managed to try two of the cakes. What I didn’t get to try was the coffee flan. Guess I will just have to make one myself. Good thing we got the recipe.

In addition to practicing our schmoozing skills in Spanish, extra challenging for two introverts without our extrovert project leader, Micha and I were shooting video of the women giving us their recipes. I think we managed to get about 45 interviews, and I’m very satisfied with that number. Most of the women were very happy to talk on camera about their cooking. My goal is to eventually assemble the videos for future presentations and transcribe the recipes for a cookbook. Explaining this goal helped convince a few of the shyer women to allow us to interview them. I would have been equally wary if I thought someone was interviewing me for TV. There was a real camera crew there, and apparently there should be a report on the news tomorrow night.

We managed to make a few new contacts, and we were taken aback by the plaque. I didn’t completely understand what was going on during the presentation, so I thought that the plaque was going to stay in the town somewhere. Well, that is what the other, identical plaque is for, and the one presented to us was ours to take with us. Micha and I kept referring to it as our certificate, because that is an important part of the culture. Certificates are given for almost every type of events, and so this is now the best certificate ever. Carved in local stone, we just have to figure out what to do with it. We got a ride back to town instead of hauling it on the bus, and then we dropped it off at the Peace Corps office. Hopefully we can get it displayed somewhere, prominently.

Micha made me laugh out loud and nearly choke on the ear of corn I was eating as she huffed “Fine then, I’ll just take my certificate and go.” I know she is strong, but I really wasn’t sure she could carry it. I learn so much each and every day, especially the great community project days. Micha and I are hoping to continue the larger, long-term project with the communities by getting funding for efficient wood-burning cookstoves. We’re in the middle of writing the grant proposal, and, if everything goes well, that phase of the project should start in July. We’re not expecting any problems since this is such an awesome project, but we shall see.