Hello, avid blog readers! Many apologies for the delay in posting. Things have been busy lately and most of us in the EWB group have been isolated from the Internet for the last few days. But not me... Let me explain.
Monday was the day of the big town meeting, rescheduled from last Friday. At 7am Alan and I spoke with the Samne police to coordinate daily transport to and from Samne and La Pitajaya, and we agreed on a price. Then Ana took us all to La Pitajaya in her pickup, along with the trenching tools - picotas, palanas, guantes, una carretilla (pick axes, shovels, gloves, a wheelbarrow). We met two prospective maestros (masons), who would provide the skilled labor for the project, up near Cashmiche. Together we trekked to the source, which had been cleared since our last visit in February. We found a potential site to construct la captación (the springbox) which was designated Plan A, and another more promising site higher up the mountain of which we did not have permission to build, and would require up to contact the owner of the land - Plan B. After lots of climbing on treacherous mountainsides, we continued from the source along the canal, 5 km along the path of the conduction line, and to the site of the reservoir. While resting, I opened up our giant binder of documents because the maestros wanted to compare the elevation of the source with the proposed reservoir site. Nihar aka Pepito helped relay the technical explanation of our calculations. The maestros suggested we change the reservoir site slightly down the mountain to ensure there will be sufficient pressure to full the tank. This change would only affect the location of the first house's tap. The suggestion was accepted by the group, pending approval by Dan the Man, one of our mentors, who at that time was currently on his way to Peru.
After our hike, we all assembled at the location of the town meeting. It was scheduled for 11am PST (Peruvian Standard Time) which actually means 1pm GST (Gringo Standard Time). While we waited, we were served a hearty Pitajayan lunch of - guess - yes, rice, potatoes, beans, and interestingly, tuna fish. We downed the meal with chicha morada, a juice-like drink made of purple corn. Sarah amused the little kids with crazy faces and Peace Corps Jake joined the Clean Plate Club. After lunch we still had time to kill so Jake, Nihar, Alan, and Ana tried to negotiate with the maestros to lower their price. Meanwhile the girls gave Lucho English lessons.
Sadly the negotiations were futile, and the maestros left without budging much. One said he was interested and to call him later... Evidently he didn't want to commit to anything in front of his friend.
Finally... The meeting began. I led in my best Spanish possible, which could have been worse. It's all about using basic vocab. No need to get all fancy. We were able to determine the number of participating households (14) and create a work schedule. We also finalized the storage locations of various materials and the lunch situation. The community seems excited about the project, although inconveniently they are in the middle of finishing work on an electrification project, coordinated by the municipality. However they should be wrapping things up this week and even while it's in progress, at least half of the community can dedicate to our water project.
After the meeting, we returned to Samne to find Emily and Prakhar! It was great to have them join us. No offense, Paco, but I was especially happy to see Emily so I could be relieved of some of my leader responsibilities... Sadly with the same breath I said hello I had to bid our new friends farewell since I had to speedily pack up for a trip to Trujillo with Alan. (Too speedily... I definitely didn't anticipate how long I would be away and could have taken way more in my backpack. Foolish.)
We caught a combi which was incredibly only S/. 5 a person (like $2) for an hour trip. So cheap. I was dropped at the Hotel Colonial, while Alan headed to his night class (he is pursuing a business management degree). At the hostel I met Dan, who had just arrived that afternoon. Evidently his luggage was lost in Bogota... But he made it. By then it was late so we grabbed some dinner and called it a night.
Tuesday and Wednesday began the adventure of materials purchases. Alan met us at the Colonial in the morning and we went through all the items we needed to buy, the various quotes we had been given, and outlined a plan of attack. Number 1 was the kilometers upon kilometers of PVC piping, our biggest purchase. We went to Eurotubo and ordered tubos, válvulas, codos (pipes, valves, elbows), all of PVC. We visited galvanized iron warehouses for pipes, fixtures, and rebar. With Alan's help, we contacted someone with a huge dump truck who agreed to carry the aggregate to Pitajaya that same day. After negotiating the price, 3 Peruvian guys, Alan, Dan, and I climbed up into the truck and squeezed in the front two (?) seats to travel to the quarry - a huge desolate area of piles and piles of sand, stone, and gravel with only the dusty Andes mountains in the background. We loaded up on arena gruesa and gravilla (coarse sand and gravel) and then rode to Maestro to purchase 52 bags of cement and a bunch of other trenching tools for the group back in Samne. I swiped my debit card with no problems. Thank you, Bank of America. I like to base my success on the amount of money I spend, so it has been a very successful two days.
Today we are leaving Trujillo to return to the Internet-less land of Samne. The rest of the materials have already been quoted, and once the payment to Eurotubo is received, we will probably make another trip here to coordinate pipe transport and purchase the rest of what we need which can be loaded on the same vehicles. Making progress... The most important materials - the aggregate and cement - are already in place so construction can begin.
I'm excited to be soon reunited with the legendary, hardworking, and awesome EWB Peru team! As long as Dan and I don't talk too much about the Colonial's hot showers and comfy beds, I'm sure they'll be happy to see us too and glad that the materials fiasco is actually working itself out.