August 02, 2004
Sugar Cane Mill (Trapiche)We heard that Roberto had an old sugar cane mill on his farm that he didn't use. We decided to check it out. It was a bit overgrown, but still quite complete. Some of the parts had fallen off, but we dug them out from under the surrounding vegetation. There were also a few old tools lying around.
The mill is probably from the late 1800s. It was made by a Columbus Ironworks; the company still exists though they no longer make sugar cane mills.
After testing the mill with some cane that was conveniently growing right next to it, we decided to buy the mill from Roberto. The initial attempt to carry the mill in one piece out of the jungle, to the dock, and bring it to my place was not a good one. The thing weighs close to a ton! So we took it apart, brought it over, cleaned it up, reassembled it, and set it up on the path up the hill where we already had some sugar cane growing.
The skinny guy in the picture with the water and coral in the
Roberto. He was very happy that we appreciated the mill, which had
been in his family for so long, and that we are putting it to
use. He had
all sorts of good advice, including to be careful about
the bees: "All klind of bees.. dem africaner how dem call it". I
love Guari-Guari... it's a very
We also tried to make Guarapo -- a fermented sugar cane drink. Not very good, really; but some locals like it. It is fizzy, and much of the sugar must have been converted to alcohol, since it is not nearly as sweet as the juice.
At some point it would probably be worth it to do some maintenance work on the mill -- there is a mechanism for adjusting the distance between the wheels that no longer works. Also, we'd like to try to make replica of the mill from wood since these mills are so hard to get now.