For a couple of days, we went to the mountainous area of Tabuk. We first arrived at the Kalinga provincial capitol where we had a meeting with the mayor and our local guide. There we were informed of the activities that we would be doing in the couple of days that we were there. Those activities included helping on a rice farm, help designing territory on another eco-farm, teaching at local schools and being educated at one of them.
I’ll start with the eco-farm for it was the first activity we did in Tabuk. When we arrived, we went on a tour around the farm. They had a variety of animals and crops. They even had banana trees and fish. A part of our group was designing while the rest helped with different things like cooking and cleaning out fish or helping covering the table. It was a traditional meal with lots of rice, cooked fish and duck and even fish soup. We were all standing around the table eating with our bare hands. After the meal, we went on to the next station.
That station was the rice farm. It was a small traditional rice farm alongside the road. We helped preparing the field and planting rice. We also helped ploughing the field with Carabao’s (also known as Asian water buffalo). After that, we went on to the cleaning of the raw harvested rice. On the farm, they only used traditional means for growing, harvesting and processing rice. We helped in nearly all the stages of the farm. We then drove further to our mountain hut. It was small but cosy and it had a large front yard. There was a pond with lots of fish.
In the evening, we enjoyed some roasted pork meat and the local wine. The wine was sweet and you didn’t taste a lot of alcohol in it. We all got pretty drunk in the end. Some of our group (me and one other) went talking with the locals and received their respect.
The following day we received a bracelet which was good because it was a signal to the people living there to not harm us. Because Tabuk was originally made up of lots of tribes that were fighting with each other, they were still not so friendly towards outsiders. Thanks to the bracelet we were seen as part of their tribe and made it less dangerous for us.
In the early morning, we enjoyed the nice view of the clouds and the mountain peaks sticking out. Once everybody was awake and it was time to go, we drove to the school. We arrived as some sort of honored guests. The guys from our group were asked to dress in traditional clothing. Those clothes were actually just a scarf folded around us like pants. And a nice little head ornament too. When we were clothed we went on to a traditional dance with the local children. After the dance, we were guided to a room where we were given the traditional snacks (actually a lot of them, imagine your dining table full of those snacks and drinks). We then went to a classroom where we were given a lesson on recycling building. To do that you fill plastic bottles with a lot of plastic waste and press it tight. Those filled bottle were then used as building bricks for al sort of structures. The cement used was a mixture of water, dirt and hay/straw.
After that we were divided in several groups and each group went to different local schools. Linde and I were one group and stayed at the school where we were. We played some traditional games from our country like the chair dance. Later that day we went to another school where we educated the children a bit about our country and the local products.
Once everybody was done teaching we went for a hike to the waterfalls. When we arrived there, we went for a swim. With us there was a group of tourist students around our age who were given a lesson at the waterfalls. I personally was giving a bit of info to them about our country. It was like I was teaching them as a teacher even though I had the same age as them.
(finally made it)
When we went back it started to rain slightly. I had my combat shoes on, which have a lot of grip on the muddy ground. A lot of the students just had sneakers or flipflops on so they slipped a lot. Some of them were jealous of my shoes because I didn’t slip even once on the whole track of about a kilometre long. Once we were down we went back to our mountain hut and rested for the night. On the next day, we all received a bracelet and the thanks of the director of the school we first went to. After that, we went back to our base in Isabela.