Roughly one year ago I traveled to Barranquilla, Colombia for two weeks to partake in Carnaval and visit family. While there, I partied hard, ate a lot of my favorite food, danced, and caught e coli, which rendered me useless for the second week of my trip.
Before returning, I mustered the strength to pick up one item of interest: a gaita. These are wooden flute instruments that come in a variety of sizes and play a large role in Cumbia music. I've included one of my favorite songs, La Pollera Colorá, as an example of what it sounds like.
Unfortunately my gaita didn't fair well on the flight home. The mouth piece fell out and left a big chunk missing. So, I did a bit of research and figured out how to construct a new headpiece. Below are photos form
It begins with melting the bees wax, which will eventually have the charcoal powder mixed in. I sort of just guessed the amount to throw into the pot.
While the beeswax melted I worked on the reed, which can be made from a syringe needle cap. I don't know for certain, but I think that wrapping twine around the syringe cap helps with the grip.
Returning to the beeswax... after mixing in the charcoal powder, I let it cool off and solidify.
I found that it was easiest to mold the cylinder once the waxy substance was on the cooler side.
Next comes the knife and slicing the cylinder like a hotdog bun.
This is where the difficult part came in. Once the wax cylinder was tapered onto the body I had to place the reed correctly so that the air would flow just right. This took a lot of trial and error.
In the end I got the gaita to play... but only 3 notes worth. Probably because it's a cheap souvenir not meant to be played seriously. Luckily my parents will be returning to Barranquilla soon and I intend to have them pick up another one for me.