Monday, January 26, 2009

In Santa Ana once more

I´m back in Santa Ana Ecuador for the fifth time now, this time with four other students and big plans to form a team from Santa Ana that will help other communities implement individual rainwater tanks. It rains so much here that 500 liter tanks are big enough that families have enough water for drinking and cooking almost all the time, and the tanks are around $80 each so it is a pretty reasonable price to provide clean, accessible water (we´ll be running hoses from the tanks with a little faucet on the end which they can put in their kitchens, which are usually separate structures from their houses with thatched roofs and a fireplace to cook on).

On January 6th we leave Santa Ana for one of their neighboring communities, La Encañada to implement five of these systems along with the team we have formed in Santa Ana. Then these families will pay back the cost of the system over a year so that the community can buy 5 more, etc. There are only 15 families in La Encañada, so after 2 years they´ll all have the systems.
As for the community water system in Santa Ana, it has its problems but they are way more minor than they were before. The new operator is this amazing 15 year old boy named Inoc, the son of Melida, one of the most responsible women in Santa Ana, so we are really excited about the community´s choice. (Inoc and Kendra fixing a leak in Santa Ana)

We´ve been working with him over the last 3 days and we´re getting pretty close to fixing up almost all of these little problems -- an amazing improvement over trips past. Slowly but surely Santa Ana is getting a handle on how to operate and maintain this system.

(Inoc standing at the river intake. Notice the semi-crooked wall in the background (the wall we built during the summer of 2006) and the water escaping to the front (where we need to build another such wall)

I love being back here. I love the people, the place, and this crazy water system that we´ve patched together over and over again. Santa Ana feels like a second home by now, but there are always new things to do and learn. It was my first News Years Eve here so I got to see how they build and burn life size dolls as a symbol of forgetting the past, then dance all night long. We made it till 4 am before we went to sleep.

Then last night we went hunting toads by moonlight on the other side of the Pastaza River. The technique is to listen to their calls and track them very quietly, then shine a flashlight on it once you are close enough and grab it with your hand. It was so beautiful under the stars and the moon, wading through shallow pools that form on the bank of the river. I think today we´ll get to eat frog maito (maito is a traditional way of cooking fish or birds or other kinds of meat wrapped up in a bananna leaf and cooked in the fire).

(On our day-trip to La Encañada, we brought a computer donated by TecsChange. These are some photos of its journey -- by horse).
(And by canoe).

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