Rice Harvesting Junta
From a very early hour, the workers arrive to begin the harvesting the rice.
A man shows and older-style blade.
The harvesters work side by side, each one on a straight path so they do not run into each other.
After being cut, the rice plants are tied together to better carry them.
Man carrying rubber bands for tying together the rice plants.
Some of the workers are tasked with bringing water to the rice cutters.
Meanwhile, in a nearby house, rice grass is spread on the floor in order to provide a blanket on top of which the rice clusters will be stored.
Rice "beehive" being built. It is made in order to store the rice and allow it to lose some humidity.
Sometimes, the workers sing decimas to stave off fatigue.
Rice beehive after completion. It is left alone until the rice grains lose most of the humidity, so they can be peeled.
Women work also at the junta, but they are tasked with the very important job of preparing the meals for the workers.
Rice, from a previous harvest, is also served with the meal. It is covered with plantain leaves to keep it fresh.
A huge pot of beef soup is cooked for feeding the working party.
When the soup is ready, the kitchen becomes a frantic anthill of women serving meals for the exhausted men.
After a day of hard work, the men enjoy a great meal.
The junta is a very traditional way for our country people to show their spirit of community. Usually, the owners of small plots of land do not have the resources to buy our hire a mechanized harvester, and the work of collecting the rice from the field would take too much time for a single extended family to do. So, the owner of the field invites the whole town and even neighboring communities to spend a day helping him with the harvesting process.
This custom is called Junta de Cortar Arroz (rice cutting or rice harvesting meeting). It is a very bonding activity, akin to the Barn Raisings of many years ago in the US.
Men, women and children participate in this activity. The men harvest the rice by hand, cutting it with blades attached to their wrists. The pack the rice in clusters. Children help by carrying the clusters and giving water to the workers, while women cook the meal for all the participants.
The workday of all the people who go to the junta is donated to the owner of the harvest. This is done for free, however, the workers happily agree to this because the know that when the time comes for them to build a house, to harvest a field or a similiar daunting task, the owner and the whole town will be ther to help them. The food and the drinks, including alcohol is provided by the owner of the junta.