The last weeks of class consisted of the three most important things in life: shelter, food and entertainment. For shelter, we learned to make bricks out of nothing more than dirt, water and hay that would build our pre-cement home. Though the bricks consisted of only three elements, it was an exhausting job nonetheless. Our class’s most difficult task was to loosen the tough, sunbaked dirt from the ground. Mixing the dirt with the water and hay was the easiest portion for us, but I can imagine it being the most difficult for the people of the past. We had hay in a bag and water from a hose. Instant water access is a relatively new luxury and the hay takes months to grow. People who used this brick making technique would have had to toil over the fields to cut a sufficient amount of grass.

Food and entertainment melded into one in the alcohol making processes. Beer, which was often the only form of potable water in the past, has deviated from its practical use and transitioned into a party beverage. We also made sake out of fermented rice. Alcoholic drinks played such a large role in everyday life from daily meals to ritualistic events, it was only fitting that we’d end on it.

The most valuable lesson I learned from this course was the sheer amount of time that basic subsistence items used to require. People didn’t buy clothes, food or homes in the past, they made them. I imagine that only once civilizations found a way to expedite the production of these necessities that leisure time was available to pursue knowledge and the arts. Basically, I’m glad I live in the modern world.

Braulio Fernandez