Friday, November 1st by Alastair Fuad-Luke

The day of the football match between the Aalto LABBERS and the teenagers of 20deNoviembre had arrived. I could sense some trepidation in the LABBERS with rumours going around that we had to play barefoot, and the knowledge that we’d never actually played together before as a team. A crowd of local supporters, predominantly women and children, gathered in the modest multi-tiered stand.

DSC_2250 football spectators

We limbered up awkwardly passing the ball around displaying our rusty skills, as the community team gathered suitably clothed with blue shirts. Fortunately, both teams comprised both genders, eight people on each side, and, luckily, footwear was permitted. Both realisations alleviated the LABBERS concerns about the game and it kicked off with an amiable atmosphere. It was soon clear that some of the locals had real talent and could really run with the ball. Naturally they scored the first goal.  This galvanised the LABBERS and it was ‘game on’!

DSC_2338 full of intention

DSC_2320 ball, ballet, balance

Suddenly, the LABBERS team started to get some shape with some co-ordination on passing. I was impressed. Tussles for the ball and comical incidents mixed in equal proportion and the heat brought out a real sweat in the LABBERS (while the community footballers looked like they were just having a stroll!). After a hot 40 minutes a half-time break was called, score 2:2 I think. Action recommenced with an agreed shorter ‘half’ of 20 minutes (!) full of much shouting and laughter. Fittingly it was one of the talented teenagers who clinched the winner just before the final whistle blew. Final score 4:3 to the community! We gathered for a photocall then all enjoyed ice yogurt and a cold coke in the welcome shade of the public stand.

DSC_2389 all the players

A refreshing bucket shower and lunch waited for us at Ofelia’s house – the latter being delicious tortillas with a local green herb, tomato and coriander and black beans, all washed down with locally made orange juice.

In the afternoon the ‘Water’ team (Ismo, Pamela and Istella) headed off to begin interviewing some families about their everyday water use and habits. They found the vast majority were highly aware of differences in water quality between different rainwater harvesting devices, the wells and bottled water.

The ‘Eco-hostel’ and ‘Artisan/community branding’ teams headed off with Ricardo, Humberto’s son, on a 3km very muddy trek to see a couple of incomplete eco-huts built within the jungle. I walked around the village and conversed with an old man about the timber-frame and claded double storey house his son (who was living in San Francisco) was building right next door to his own. I returned to Ofelia and Mirriam’s wood workshop where I decided to make something using discarded bits of wood on the floor, cutting some into smaller pieces with the bandsaw. Mirriam showed her proficiency with the equipment and sanded the edges of rough cut pieces whose cut face was blacked (burnt) by the bandsaw blade. After drilling each waste piece I threaded them into a necklace. I liked the ‘ready-made’ feel, the weight of the wood and sound of the ‘beads’ as they clicked together. For me it was a pleasure to have quickly created an ‘aide memoire’ of 20deNoviembre using the workshop waste. I put it in the ‘Objects of Love’ exhibition we held the next day in the community hall. I was joined in the workshop by other community makers putting the finishing touches to the carved crocodiles – animating the objects by giving them ‘eyes’ with a pyrography tool. I asked what the unfinished pieces were on the bench. Mirriam disappeared to Ofelia’s house and emerged with a carving of a Mayan warrior, complete with detachable helmet – quite a feat of hand carving done by different members of the wood artisan workshop.



Just before dusk, men pushing bicycles loaded with sacks of food from the fields or bounty from a hunting trip, rolled back into the village. Birdsong filled the air, then, as if someone was pulling the shutters down, night descended. We headed back to the hostel at Zoh Laguna, some 45 minutes away by minibus, tired but content after our day’s exertions. Just before we left, we learnt that the teenage boys wanted a strictly ‘men only’ game of football later in the week…our muscles told us that it could be a little bit more challenging than today’s game!

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