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You are currently browsing the Engineers Without Borders at Boston University blog archives for July, 2009.

Jul

31

Day 34

By elissam

We slept in until around 9:00, had breakfast, and then went outside to watch the mass and procession around the plaza. The festival is the only time each year that the priest comes to Chirimoto, and after the first mass there is a procession from the church around the altars set up at the corners of the plaza in honor of various saints. 

After the mass, we had lunch with Otimio’s family again. Otimio owns the coffee farm on the road towards the medical post, a little ways up the mountain. We had been to his home once before, and today we were at a house in the Plaza where one of his realtives lives. After lunch we went back out to watch the sports tournaments again. We spent the evening talking with Ciro and Clemente, and then went into the dance when the band started playing. We didn’t stay too long tonight- just long enough to see Ciro up onstage winging and dancing with the band.

Jul

30

Day 33

By elissam

Today was the first full day of the festival. There were no real activities in the morning- it seemed that most of the town was sleeping in, so we decided to get some work done after breakfast and started surveying the road from Chirimoto to Milpuc . After Lunch the festivities began for the day. The band was se up in the main room of the Hummingbird House, and a few people were dancing. They also started the soccer and volleyball tournaments; we watched the end of the Chirimoto-Milpuc soccer game, which milpuc won.

The band moved outside after a few hours, and started to set up for the dancing later tonight, which would take place in the municipality.

Jul

29

Day 32

By elissam

Most of the day was spent helping with preparations for the festival, which starts this evening with a talent show & beauty contest. I spent most of my time painting the back wall and door of the bookmobile and adding the Hummingbird House logo to the door. Jeremy and Charlie went up to the reservoir at Mari Pata to take the flow rate from the pipes, and then returned to help in the afternoon. We helped clean up the Hummingbird House and put up photos and decorations until the water board meeting started at 7:00. 

We began the meeting by discussing the excavation and surveying we had done at the Vista Alegre source (Yacuñao) the other day. We explained that we found a flat, relatively large and clearable place above the main reservoir at which to build the new filter. The excavation was dug to the specifications of the engineer who had come to talk with us the other day: 2m deep and roughly 1m wide on each side. A similar hole will have to be dug at Lambras before we leave. As we are running short on time and the board members need to understand the processes behing our project, someone from the board will come up to help us dig and choose the other filter location. We have also asked the board to prepare sand and other materials for when we return in December to repair the Mari Pata system. 

The rest of the meeting was spent discussing and setting up the email account for the board, and walking several members through the process of logging on, writing, and sending an email. When this was over, it was almost time for the festival to start. We returned to the Hummingbird House for dinner, and then went over to the municipality to watch the ceremony.

Jul

28

Day 31

By elissam

We spent the morning surveying the Old Road that leads from the town up to the medical post and intersects the current road. The old pipeline, the one that runs from the Mari Pata source and through the old tanks and filter, follows this old road into the town, so we are mapping this road so as to have a complete map of the pipelines. When we returned, we set up tables for lunch outside and ate with the rest of the family and several guests out in the kitchen area. We spent a long time at lunch talking, and then went to plan the water board meeting that was supposed to happen at 3:00 this afternoon. 

Due to some misunderstanding, no one showed up for the water Board meeting, in which we were supposed to set up an email account for the board and explain to all of the members how to use it. We are not sure what exactly happened, but I think the members thought that we had planned the meeting with one or two people to set up the account and that they were not supposed to be at this meeting. We have rescheduled the meeting for tomorrow night.

Jul

27

Day 30

By elissam

This morning we started to put together the activities and presentations for the festival. We are planning a couple of projects and activities for the children, as well as discussions with all of the townspeople. We are working on a power point that covers all of the big initiatives that the town wants to address: clean water, hygiene, improved kitchens, and proper waste disposal. 

After lunch we finished surveying the road to Vista Alegre as far as the church. Our map now intersects with the map that we have of Foncodes’ water system at Yacuñao so that between the two we have a complete map of the area between the two towns. All we have left to map is the last bit of the road towards Milpuc.

Jul

26

Day 29

By elissam

We had  lazy morning- half of the group is sick.

In the afternoon we walked back to Vista Alegre to have lunch with Wilson, the teacher, who has another of the improved kitchens we had looked at a few days ago. He was not home the other day when we stopped by, but his wife was home and she invited us to lunch today to come and talk with him. We went over the survey and talked about problems in the education system. The school has problems getting textbooks, materials and funding to repair the building. Wilson also said that there are problems convincing parents to educate their children, rather  than keeping them home to help out. Out of 30 or 40 students in the elementary school, only 4 or 5 will continue on to attend the secondary school in Milpuc.

The rest of the afternoon was spent out in the plaza- on sunday afternoons the town sets up soccer and volleyball matches and everyone goes to play/watch. After the games, we went to dinner at another house in Vista Alegre. The woman who owns the house is 86, lives alone, and owns the only metal stove in the town. We went to visit her the other day when we were looking for improved kitchens- she is also related to the family who owns the first kitchen we went to see, and two of the men from this family joined us for dinner tonight as well.

Jul

25

Day 28

By elissam

We spent the morning cleaning up the hummingbird house and putting up plastic in the windows. In the afternoon, we took the total station and shovels up to the reservoir at Yacuñao to survey and dig the hole for the soil sample. We saw the tank, and hiked up a little farther to a larger flat area where we want to build. The area was not clear, and we spent a long time cutting down brush to survey. Charlie and Paolo started digging. It was dark before we finished. We took pictures of the hole for the engineer to see the soul quality and depth, and then filled the hole and started back down the mountain in the dark. Thankfully we had a flashlight and knew where we were going, but it was a slow walk.

Charlie got sick on the way down, and spent the rest of the night in bed once we got back. Richard wasn’t feeling well either, so the rest of us went to the concert we had been hoping to see over in Milpuc. The band was a cumbia group from Chachapoyas, called Tempestad, and they were in Milpuc for their festival which started a couple of days ago. We walked back around 1:00 after a couple hours of music.

Jul

24

Day 27

By elissam

Lucho took us back up to the reservoir tanks for the Foncodes system this morning. We took about 50 point from the top of the tank around the clearing where we hope to build one of the new filters, and up the side of the mountain to get the relative elevations. 

When we got back, we went to lunch with one of the families in Vista Alegre, and then met with a government engineer back at the Hummingbird House.

Jul

23

Day 26

By elissam

The morning started with the loud screaming of a pig being killed in the building next door- where the workshop is- and while I tried to fall back to sleep, there was too much other noise. I got up to go see them smoking the pig; the others weren’t far behind in waking up. We started surveying the road towards Milpuc after breakfast. When we got back, we had lunch with all of the people who had been helping carve and prepare the pig- the first time we had eaten with the entire family in the same room. We have asked them several times to eat with us more often, but much of the time the family eats outside in the kitchen. 

After lunch Charlie, Paolo and I tried to take the equipment up to the reservoir for the  Foncodes system to survey the tanks. We were unable to find a guide for this afternoon, but decided to try to follow the trail we had been on the other day. The tanks had not been far up the mountain, and the trails closer to the town are relatively clear, but we still managed to get ourselves lost a couple of times before finding a trail we recognized. We did not make it up to the tanks, however. We turned around and went back to the hummingbird house for the water board meeting after realizing that someone had taken the battery cord for the total station out of the backpack and we couldn’t survey anything anyways. 

The meeting with the water board started around 5:00. We spent the most part of the meeting discussing in detail all of the responsibilities of the board in our absence. They will clean out the tanks at Mari Pata along with other maintenance of the work we have started, oversee construction of the new tanks once the government starts, set up community participation and taxes to fund the system’s maintenance, and (hopefully) contact us via email every month or so.

Jul

22

Day 25

By elissam

Today was the hike up to the caves at Cacapischo, as well as Charlie’s birthday.

We left at 6:00 for what we thought would be about a 4 hour hike up, a couple of hours in the caves, and then about another 4 hours to get back down in time for a late lunch with friends of Lucho’s and then the water board this evening at 7:00. We did not arrive at the caves until after noon, and then we had lunch and went up to 2 of the 7 caves. We left around 3:30, and the hike down took about 5 hours. It was dark before we made it out of the cloud forest onto the ridge trail, at around 6:00. We returned at 8:30 and the water board and several other people were in the hummingbird house. We rescheduled the meeting for tomorrow, and went to dinner with Lucho’s friends. We returned to the Hummingbird House and had cake and drinks and talked for a while longer before going to bed.