OUR REUNION WITH THE WOMEN OF REPAPEL

Although we were hoping to teach English at the University for our final Impact Travel activity, the students were on break for the Easter holiday.  Instead, we returned to RePapel, the women’s co-op that turns waste paper from the local community into recycled paper products that are sold for a profit.

I knew from our previous visit that our group of fellow Fathom passengers would be greeted by the women with enthusiastic singing and clapping.  It was fun, though, to watch the surprised expressions on the group as they walked up the street to the co-op and heard the women singing up ahead.  Smiles broke out as they rounded the corner and saw the women of RePapel dancing and clapping as they sang to us.

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One-by-one, I scanned over the singing ladies and recognized each one from our January visit.  It was Claribel I was looking for, though, because we had made such a positive connection when we worked together last time.  Would she remember me?

Claribel was off to the left side, and I quickly took a photo of the women.  When she spotted me, her expression changed as if she was deep in thought.  A few seconds later, she flashed a huge grin as she remembered who I was.  I made a heart sign with my hands (as she did to me when we said goodbye in January), and she ran over to greet me with a big hug.

Making paper with the ladies is so much fun, because they keep up a positive energy with their singing.  In between songs, Claribel and I communicated as we did last time—through hand gestures and my (very) broken Spanish.  She asked me if Bruce and I had children, and then I asked her the same question.  Claribel responded that two of her seven children were twins.

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As it turned out, there was a family on board with teenage fraternal triplets, and they were standing right behind me as Claribel and I talked.  The mom chimed in saying, “You have twins?  I have triplets!”  Claribel didn’t quite understand the word “triplets” until I grabbed three of my fingers and held them together with my other hand and held it up.  In perfect English, Claribel exclaimed, “Oh my GAAAD!!”  We couldn’t stop laughing.

This is typical of what it’s like to make recycled paper (and paper bead necklaces) with the women of RePapel.  Never a dull moment!

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My friend, Claribel

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Fredy is from Colombia and also has an apartment in Atlanta.  We enjoyed getting to know him during the cruise.

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The women were ripping up waste paper into small pieces that will get thrown in a washing machine for a cycle– the early steps of the paper recycling process.

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After a cycle in the washing machine, the paper/water mixture gets scooped up and tossed into the blender for a whirl.  Next, it is dumped into this bin.  Bruce was given a framed screen to dunk into the mixture.  Once the screen is covered, it is lifted and drained.

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The IDDI facilitator joined in the production line. Here,  she is taking the piece of paper she had removed from her screen and getting it ready to place on the drying rack out in the sun.

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We also made paper beads and strung necklaces to be sold in the gift shop.  Bruce and Fredy show off their creations.

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I’m modeling the necklace I made.

The following are scenes from the community.  Some of the pictures were shot from the bus window as we arrived, and others were taken during a walking tour we took after we worked at RePapel.

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This concrete floor was made by Fathom Adonia passengers.  The homeowner was given the choice of what color to paint it, and yellow is the most popular choice.

Next up:  FATHOM:  OUR FINAL CHAPTER

ROAD TRIP DAY 23: SAMPLING VERMONT

On a rainy day (and 20 degrees below normal temperature for June 1), what better way to spend the day than staying dry indoors sampling Vermont’s foodie favorites?

We actually did get a fair bit of walking in outdoors before the rain settled in for the afternoon. Burlington is a nice, walkable city in the historic downtown center. The 4-block long outdoor pedestrian street is lined with historic buildings on each side with shops and restaurants. “Homeport” was our favorite store– 4 levels of EVERYTHING you could possibly want for your home all loaded in a historic building. At the end of the year, it must be an inventory nightmare for them, because they have such a huge selection. From sink strainers to interesting decorative wall hooks, they had dozens to choose from. It was a very cool store.

Working up an appetite from our walk along Church St. and along Waterfront Park and back, it was time to sample Vermont.

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While walking along Church St. we came across this 124-foot mural entitled, “Everyone Loves a Parade!”  It was custom-designed by renowned Canadian muralist, Pierre Hardy, wide-known for his inventive and meticulously-detailed, large-scale pieces.  Grand Master Samuel de Champlain leads the charge as the scene depicts an evolution in time along Church St.  Notable and everyday Bulingtonians, downtown businesses, and iconic images of the past 400 years are distinguished through overflowing illustrations.

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Follow this panorama photo, and the next three photos from left to right.

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First up for sampling: Lake Champlain Chocolates. Unfortunately, there were no tours today (or tomorrow) because of new flooring being installed, but we went anyway to check out the factory and hunt for factory seconds to purchase. (Hey, they’re just going to be eaten anyway, so why purchase at full price?)

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Our next stop: Ben & Jerry’s Ice Cream. Photos weren’t allowed on the factory tour, but I did get a few shots where cameras were allowed.

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New flavors- YUM!

Bruce and I felt right at home at the factory, because Ben and Jerry’s hearts are in the right place as far we are concerned. Their company philosophy is spot-on, and they value social justice and the environment. They even had free hook-up stations in the parking lot for electric vehicles to get juiced while they’re owners get a fill of ice cream!

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AMEN to this!

Recycling is also huge there and everywhere here in Vermont. The state’s goal is to reach a 40% recycle rate, and the businesses we have encountered are enthusiastically in support of that goal. Our motel is on board as was the restaurant we ate at this evening.

This is my kind of place; such a cool vibe. Georgia (and most of the rest of the world), GET WITH THE PROGRAM if you have any hope of leaving Planet Earth habitable for future generations!

The sampling portion of our day concluded with a stop at Cabot Cheeses where they had samples out of every variety of cheese they make as well as selections of maple syrup, dips, and other delicious foods. Fabulous!

While there we picked up a small bottle of Mannaz Mead from Groennfell Meadery, and just popped it open to sip as I type. Strange. It’s made with 100% single-source honey, something we have never tasted (or heard of) before. I think it’s an acquired taste, and I’m not sure I want to acquire it.

Earlier, after all the sampling in Burlington and Waterbuy, we made our way north on one of Vermont’s most scenic byways to Stowe. The Stowe Motel and Snowdrift is ourTrip Advisor-recommended home for a couple of nights, and it’s a beautiful, spacious property with large expanses of grass in between the buildings.

Upon arrival, we were greated by “Remy”, the owner’s gorgeous German Short-haired Pointer. We were also upgraded to a larger room without even asking! NICE!

Dinner in town was at a casual little 5-table place, “Bender’s Burritos.” Check this out: A sweet potato and black bean burrito with Spanish rice, minced ginger, mild cheddar cheese, chipotle mayo, and salsa verde. De-LISH, all one pound of it!