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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.

Jul

21

Day 24

By elissam

Paolo and Lucho showed us the things thay had bought in Mendoza yesterday- the rebar for the stove top, and a couple of valves to fix the air blocks Angel showed us. Lucho said they had also found someone who can get us a metal tube for the chimney. They also found us another transformer to charge the Total Station, since Professor Hopcroft took his with him when he and Caitlin left. We had lunch in Vista Alegre with the family who owned one of the improved kitchens we had seen yesterday. We took measurements and discussed design- whether the family liked their kitchen, what they would do differently, etc.

Jul

20

Day 23

By elissam

We split up this morning. Lucho and Paolo are going to Mendoza to buy the rebar and other supplies we need for the improved kitchen project. The rest of us stayed to work more on the kitchen design.

We found out that there were a couple of improved kitchens in the area, so we spent the morning walking to Vista Alegre with some of Panchito’s children to see one of them. There is another in Vista Alegre and one in Chirimoto that we will be seeing later this week. When we got back, we had lunch with Tulio and then started making the adobe for the kitchen we hope to build in the Hummingbird House. Panchito offered to make the bricks; he said that if we have time to use them on this trip we can, and that if we do not he will store them somewhere or make new bricks if he has another project to do. We hope to have time to build the oven, but must wait for the adobe to dry. This normally takes about one week to 10 days, so we are cutting our time close but think it best to plan everything and have it ready even if we do not have time to build this trip.

Jul

19

Day 22

By elissam

There was another meeting of the water board this afternoon. Elections for president, VP, secretary and treasurer were held. Our previous meetings had involved all of the same members, but no positions had been formalized. Today, there were more people from the town present to vote. We talked in more detail about the committee’s responsibilities.

We spent a while discussing in detail three options for the town. The first option involves only our group- we would start by refilling the Mari Pata system, and then start a several-year process to build the other two systems. The next option involves mostly the governmet, and does not include the Mari Pata system at all. The government would build just the two new filters with our supervision. Both parties are part of the third option in which we refill Mari Pata in January as a temproary filtered source and as a model for the next two filters, and then we work with the government to design the other filters. The government agreed that would fund the majority of the project if we were to collaborate, so the project will run much faster if the government is involved. The community agreed that it would be best to have government funding so that the project can be completed within a couple of years, and so that we can also direct our attention to other initiatives in the community. Most members now agree that it would be better to fill the Mari Pata system as a model for the other tanks.