First my host uncle bought some sugar cane. Then his sons and his wife scraped off the bark, stuck it through a hand crank machine, and his family and I watched as the liquid spurted into a pitcher. It was a pleasant afternoon. The juice was nice with some specks of rust. I was glad to see the family take an entire afternoon to sit around and enjoy this drink.
The process reminded me of making apple cider back home. My family makes apple cider because there are apples around. My host family makes caldo de cana because there is sugar cane grown in the area. Both families make the drink seasonally with the sweetest ingredients. We use the old rotten apples, which are full of the most sugar. My host family buys sugar cane from venders during the drier season when the cane has the most sugar content. I enjoyed being able to make these connections while drinking that special pee colored drink.
I haven’t made cider since I was maybe ten, but doing so always made me proud of my family and the apples from the trees my great grandfather took care of. Being able to make cider meant I lived in apple country in North Carolina in the Clarke family. I think taking part in making caldo de cana makes my host family feel a similar pride; one of their region and the old tradition of grinding sugar cane into sweet water. I think the activity holds meaning in a sense of appreciation and pride of family and culture.