Friday, August 18, 2006

Tungurahua -- we're safe and sound

Hello all,
I don´t know if the news of the volcano eruption reached the news for any of you, but I wanted to say first of all that we´re safe and sound here in puyo along with the majority of the community.
Yesterday was a pretty crazy day. Another one of those days where I woke up 24 hours ago with a completely reality context than what I have now.
We attempted to build the wall yesterday.... despite our fears that few community members would come we had a good turnout and were all set to build, except froy returned empty handed from his quest for cement... all the stores had sold out and hadn´t gotten their new shipments because of the eruption of Tungurahua the night before took out the road between here and the cement factory.
We passed a normal afternoon and then firefighters and national guard trucks started coming with messages of increasing posibility of alarm.. Basically kilometers upstream from us the lava entered the Pastaza river and dammed it off in 3 places... causing the water level to rise 200 meters... crazy....
they are apparently going to try to break the dams with dynamite so that they dont break all at once and cause a huge flood of water downstream. Santa Ana is almost 100meters above the pastaza, and a good 100ish kilometers downstream, so the chances of anything happening to the community are miniscule.... It was a really surreal experience last night at the farewell party for some other volunteers, listening to the eclectic music they play around here, looking around at the half-lit faces of these people that I have come to know so well, knowing that a tremendous flood is within the realm of posibility. I think it made me really understand this latin american culture froy tries to explain to me... that this life is crazy, so many things to be worried about in our project, the village just might flood, the volunteers are leaving as volunteers always do, and the only natural thing to do is eat some heart of palm toasted up in a banana leaf, dance to old mexican reggaton, and gaze up at the stars.
Then, at 11pm or so, the national guard came again with a huge truck and this time a good half the community (including us) decided to go with into Puyo, just in case. It was a crazy experience, that 2 hour ride to puyo in the back of this huge truck, literally the refugee evacuation sort of truck... pitch black except for the ocaisional volunteer´s flashlight... women and kids and blankets all piled up along the walls and a few in the middle of the truck. Me with 6 year old sacha asleep in my lap, half leaning on froy, and the little girl that the man on my other side was holding also half resting on my arm... I felt just a little bit of the raw warmth and unity of humanity that people must experience in real war, flood, refugee situations. They´ve got set up here a really nice sort of temporary shelter thing, with individual matresses, blankets, and 3 meals a day. We don´t think we´ll be here long, another night at the most.
As for our project... that´ll be another update...
Much love. Miss you all and ww´ll be very careful and take care of ourselves here.

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