Six weeks ago, as our travel team was wondering around the streets of Lima, a large dollop of bird poop lands on my arm and ricochets off onto Kasturi’s face. As the travel team as well as people passing by us laugh sympathetically and shake their heads at what seems like an unfortunate accident, I look at Kasturi with a huge smile on my face and whisper discretely to her, “It’s a sign Kasturi, it’s a sign! We are going to finish the water system this trip.” I have always been a huge believer in the idea that getting pooped on by a bird is a sign of imminent good luck. So with the landing of bird poop on both my arm and Kasturi’s face, I had the uplifting feeling that this trip was going to be a lucky one.
After 6 weeks of working alongside the community every day, sharing with them the bruising pain of carrying galvanized pipe up the mountain, the blisters and cuts that gradually accumulate on our hands and faces from trenching, the laughter and inside jokes that inevitably come from working side-by-side along the face of a mountain, and the driving dream of seeing clean water flowing through every tapstand in the community, I truly believe that we are the luckiest EWB-chapter in the world, to have found this amazing community and had the opportunity to work besides them. To Alan, Erasmo, Bernabe, Vidal, Juan, Maximo, Marcial, Alberto, Daneelo, Acuna, Imer, Junior, Garcia, Hubert, Wilson, Tito, Oscar, Martin, Edin, Santos, Ricardo, Lucho, Fermin, Edwin, Wilmar, Ierley, Maria, Alquilino, and Denis, I just want to thank for making these past 6 weeks truly the best weeks of my life. These are some of the hardest working, capable, creative, driven, funny, intelligent, and strongest people I have ever gotten the opportunity to work with in my life. Seeing Bernarbe walk 4 kilometers up the mountain with a 150 lb galvanized tube on one shoulder and a length of rebar on the other, seeing Maximo remove a rock from the path larger than him, seeing the entire community up and ready to work every morning at 7 am has inspired me to work my hardest as well, to truly push myself to my physical limits, to do all that I can to achieve our shared goal of bringing water to each and every tapstand.
It has been the most amazing and tangible experience, to see this water system come to together part by part, day by day—to see what exactly one year ago had only been a source of water up in the mountains become the lifeblood of a water system, flowing 3.5 km along the veins of our pipeline, bringing clean, drinking water to this hard-working community. I will never forget the excitement that we shared as a team and as a family when water first successfully flowed into the spring box on August 20th, and then the first reservoir tank on August 21st, and then the first tapstand on August 22rd, and then on August 25th at 4:32 pm, when every single tapstand in the community had clean flowing water running through its tap.
This entire process has definitely not been a perfect one. Every step of the way, we were faced with obstacles and challenges, whether they be physical, mental, or logistical. But nonetheless, it was a beautiful one. Sitting here now, typing up this blog post in the Miami airport during our 12 hour layover, all I can say is I cannot wait to go back to Peru next summer and once again be with the family I now have there, to once again be in a place that now truly feels like home.
Water flows through the first tapstand!
Group photo after we opened Alberto's tapstand for the first time on August 22!
Amanda and Kasturi posing Alberto-style during the inaguration of his tapstand!
Happy birthday Nol! (August 23)
Amanda doing one of her slide-and-roll socce tackles during the all-women football game in la Pitajaya
Installing the llave de paso in the valve box
Monday August 25. We just connected all the tapstands to the system: EVERY HOUSE IN LA PITAJAYA BAJA NOW HAS WATER!
Our three masons: (left to right) Oscar, Tito and Martin. Thank you so much for all you work this summer!
Painting the spring box (and themselves...)
Maintenance work in the Alta system: sheathing PVC pipe with manguera before reinstalling sections of the pipeline
Hana's professional painting job: Bernabe's tapstand painted in time for the inauguration ceremony of the Baja water system!
The inauguration ceremony of the Baja water system conducted at the second reservoir tank!
The castillo of fuegos artificiales at the annual Samne festival