May 29, 2007

Greetings

Buen día a todos y todas,

I realize I haven’t written any significant blogs as of late, so I will try to make this one worthwhile. It is Monday evening and Annie and I just got back from a trip to see some volunteers in the south and then an unsuccessful trip to the Peace Corps office in Tegus for some business and to pick up packages (today was Memorial day I am told, and the office was not open).

Last week I made my first trip into the campo (countryside) far from the city. On Tuesday I met a guy with a pickup at the gas station in Danlí and he drove me to the aldea of Crique de Oro (gold creek) which is about a 2.5 hour drive from El Paraíso, 1.5 hours of which is in 4-wheel drive, 1 hour of that in low range. I went to this community to start surveying to see if it is feasible to install a potable water system. The organization I am currently working with, Juntas de Agua Municipal (Municipal Water Boards) has worked with a community downstream that is in the process of installing a potable water system for their community that is in danger of not functioning during the dry season do to a lack of water flow from the spring that acts as the main source. So my assignment was to find the potential water source for Crique de Oro, and determine if this source of water will provide sufficient flow to supply potable water to the community, and augment the flow to the lower community during the dry season, as well as travel house to house identifying how many people live in each house and where they are located relative to the potential location of the water tank.

The community is completely rural with most houses sitting by themselves on the side of steep mountains among intermixed coffee and banana fields. There is no electricity or phone service, and no running water (although about 1/3 of the families have run hoses to their house from nearby streams and ponds, that bring water nearer to their house). I traveled around with anywhere from 2 to 6 men who were either members of the local water board or interested citizens and we visited each house. The second day we were able to visit almost 50 houses on horseback and in my case by mule (I literally got a blister on my ass from riding for over 11 hours; I hadn’t ridden in quite a while).

I would say the trip was mildly successful. I managed to measure the flow of the source one day and visit a number of houses as well, and on the second day acquire a mule and visit quite a few houses. It was a little frustrating as I was led to believe that the trip would be short and there was not a lot of work to be done, just sort of a quick and dirty data gathering mission, but I soon found out after arriving that there was well over a weeks worth of work to be done and when I was told all of the equipment I would need was in the truck that really meant that only one hand held GPS unit was in the truck, and the wrong unit at that. So I ended up staying for 2 nights and three days doing the best I could, and I am going back this Thursday with the hope of finishing up visiting each house, and Annie is going to come along to speed things up.

I stayed with a family in the community; they had a nice little place that was really clean and pleasant with a little stream running through, a new latrine, about 8 cows (the popular Jersey-Brahma cross), and a bunch of chickens that actually had a chicken coop. It was a good place to stay. When I got back from surveying the family was working away in the little adobe shed in the barnyard and I soon realized they were making me a bed and moving stuff around in the shed so I had a place to sleep. They showed me where I was to sleep and initially I was pretty damn pleased, it was clean and private and just what I was looking for (I had already realized that I was potentially going to be staying quite of few nights here over the next couple years if this project gets funded). The little shed was partitioned by a blanket hanging from the ceiling and I had wooden bed off of the ground and a foam mat to sleep on. It gets dark pretty quick without electricity so pretty soon the guy whose family I was staying with came out and handed me a 2x4, and asked if I needed to go anywhere during the night. I said no and was sort of confused until he said good, prop this 2x4 against the door so that the dog doesn’t come in and kill you during the night. And then it was explained to me how the guard dog gets left off it’s leash during the night so no one steals the family’s calves. This is the same 120 lb. dog that was in the yard tied to a 3-foot chain that had lunged against the chain foaming at the mouth every time I moved the slightest inch and acted like it wanted nothing more than to kill me. I said that I would not be going anywhere and thanked him for the 2x4. I went in to my shed and started reading a book with the candle they had given me, thinking that things were still going pretty well (although immediately after shutting the door I had to take a piss)……Then I heard the rats…I should have thought earlier that there might be rats because they store some feed concentrate in the shed…but I hadn’t...and here I was in a 8 ft x 14 ft adobe shed with rats, and I couldn’t even open the door. I didn’t sleep very well that night, not that the rats were actually doing anything but eating and fighting and having a grand old time. I have now confirmed that I have a full blown phobia of rats. I would have slept better with a bear on the other side of the room than with the rats.

I told Annie when I got back to Danlí that it was a combination of the best and worst experience I have had yet in Honduras. We’ll try and get some pictures this week when Annie goes with me.

Hasta luego,
Luke

Be sure to check out Annie´s blog and pics from the weekend below.

3 comments:

Aunt Lora said...

Sounds like a great time. Sleep is overrated.

Josh said...

Wow Luke it looks as though you now have some amazing stories. I'd be pissing myself to a 120 lbs guard dog!! Pretty interesting stuff though keep up the good work.

Josh

Kyle & Crystal said...

Great story! We're glad you didn't get eaten by the dog or the rats, for that matter.

We met Sara and Javi last week and really enjoyed our time with them.

Good luck getting all your work accomplished, sounds like a pretty big task!

Kyle & Crystal