Today, Thursday, we were taken East to the town of Tomebamba, where there is an agricultural high school, that received a “mechanical cow” that was provided as part of a Matching Grant led by my Club, La Mesa, with the encouragement and help of David Ballesteros, of La Mesa Sunrise. It was an exciting drive at 120 kph (75 mph) through twisting countryside roads. We made it though.
We arrived at Colegio Tecnico Miguel Malo Gonzalezs,, and escorted to the mechanical cow room with a number of students and staff. The soy beans and water had been cooking for about 20 minutes, and we saw it drawn off into a container lined with a fine mesh bag. Some milk flowed right out of the bag, and the rest was squeezed out with a press. The residue was pressed into cakes for sale. We sampled two different fruit-flavored versions of soy milk, and a variety of muffins made from the pressed residue. All the items were quite tasty.
The boiler is at the left, and supplies hot water to the cooker, and after about 20 minutes, the mixture is drained into a container lined with a fine mesh bag. Most of the milk drains out through the bag, and the rest is squeezed out with a press. The residue is pressed into cakes and sold to the community for making bread among other things.
We were thanked for having provided the machine, to which the Rotary Club of Cuenca Tomebamba has also contributed, as well as some other District 5340 clubs. We were presented with a letter from Juan Benalcazar Torres, Rector of the school, thanking us, and asking if we would be able to provide a refrigerator and an oven. At this time they are unable to refrigerate the milk, and the baking is done at a nearby home. The cost would be about $2,500 including some other small items. Since La Mesa Rotary was the lead club, the letter was handed over to me.
Most of the students were headed towards a veterinary profession, while others were headed for agrigulture, agronomy, or environmental careers.
Next we checked out the computer room with computers which had been supplied in an earlier project headed up by Bill Stumbaugh.
We then went next door to visit a girls’ school, and the contrast in facilities was striking. The girls were well equipped with sports equipment, and the place was decorated with plants, while we saw nothing similar at the boys’ school. The explanation was that the girls’ were just more inclined to keep the place looking good. It turns out that they were considering the possibility of changing it to a co-ed school, and four boys were there now, to see how that might work out.
There were small agricultural plots at the boys’ school, but untculivated, and it was explained that some additional buildings were going to be added there.
The head of the girls’ school, Priscilla Rios, had been an Ambassadorial Scholar some years ago, and it was a reunion for her and David.
We next headed for the town of Chordeleg, which had been a gold mining town, and where the streets were lined with jewelry shops. I got a shoe shine from a local entrepreneur about 10 years old. Next was lunch at La Pampa Mesa. It was an interesting place with lots of art work, and a full size horse replica in the dining room with full tack. The owner was extremely enthusiastic about his new hotel, and read from the extensive brochure about the historical signficance of one of the paintings.
By then it was time to head back to Cuenca, and back to the Hotel Sebastian. I had delicious trout and shrimp at the hotel that evenng, and headed out for an evening walk, and managed to find some ice cream for dessert.