The Final Case Study

For months now, our fourth and final case study has eluded us. We’ve met and interviewed people from the village, but haven’t managed to actually get there. And you can’t very well write a dissertation case study about a place you haven’t been to (trust me, we thought about how you might try). First the village president was hard to track down (he gets no cell coverage in the village). Then the day they were having a community meeting we had another meeting scheduled. Then, the next month, when they invited us to their meeting again and we were planning to go, we had to come home early from our trip to return our borrowed car. Today we tried again, knowing it was one of our last chances. The community was going to be processing sugar cane, and they invited us to stop by, see the work, and interview people.

We set our alarm for 6 a.m. and were on the road by seven. I took our new shortcut and we cleared Medellin in record time. Don Camion’s windows still weren’t working, and it was cold out, so Casey just put on a sweater and my fleece. That seemed a better solution than stopping to fix them. We continued this way, sure we were finally going to make it to our final case study. And then there was a traffic jam. And then the cops at the head of that jam told us there was a protest ahead, and the highway was closed. They told us to take a detour. We did, sat in more traffic, danced in our seats to the first song we found on the radio, and then got bummed that there was still traffic. Then, upon entering the city our detour passed through, we got totally lost. We tried using the map on Casey’s iphone, and literally drove in circles. Time and again we found ourselves facing the same one-way streets. Then Casey told me to take a turn I didn’t, and then she got mad at me, and then I got mad that she’d gotten mad at me. We asked for directions, and were given lousy ones. Then Casey saw a sign directing drivers to the city where our detour was supposed to end. We followed it, and drove on. Then we got stopped by police so they could search our car. They found nothing interesting.

We arrived in the town center of Granada and picked up a friend who was coming with us to the village. We headed down the rocky road until she told us to pull over . We got out and stuck a rock under a tire so Don Camion wouldn’t roll away. Then we slid past a barbed-wire fence and down into a valley, to a river. Ahead of us we could see a huge glorious waterfall. The village we were to visit is called La Cascada or, in English, The Waterfall. We’d arrived!


After hiking through a sugar-cane forest we came out at the home of the president of the village. His wife fed us soup and guarapo (sugar-water lemonade) and introduced us to her kids and grandkids. Then they all accompanied us to where the men were processing sugar cane. It was cool to see (but our camera ran out of batteries so we can’t show you) and the guys were happy to tell us how it all worked. They were less excited about being interviewed, but we charmed them enough, and eventually they agreed to talk as long as they could keep working simultaneously. That was fine with us, as it just made it easier to take little tastes from the vats of sugar they were processing.

After the interviews (and enough tastes we both felt a little woozy), we headed back to the car to drive home. Mission accomplished.


Edge of a sugar-cane forest.


The village president’s adorable three-year-old granddaughter. She ran home barefoot, after accompanying us to the sugar cane processing, and then jumped into that sink for a shower.

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