Yeah, I’m clever. Actually Paige says mande is a regional phrase that isn’t really used here; it’s more of an Ecuador thing. I’m not changing the title.
Well, I was super grumpy about our non-negative negative control (see Posto del Blogo Numero Tres) so in the morning I boiled some more Agua Cristal and incubated that. Our driver was late, which was a turn of good luck because Mike walked in and said “So the mayor will meet with you now.” We went to meet him and told him about our connection with Porvenir, and how we were wondering if he could connect the PIPA trucks to the village and deliver them government water. He was straight with us and said it his primary concern is the villages with decent populations, but that if we built the tank, he could send a truck that way once a week with ten cubic meters of water. This is substantial; perhaps it is the closest we have been to a real solution for Porvenir. Knock on wood.
Then it was off to Arada Vieja to investigate the slow sand filters and hydraulic ram pump that Tufts EWB had implemented there back in 2007. After all, this is a monitoring trip.
Arada Vieja is a village that, compared to El Porvenir, has its coliform-bearers together. We found that the pump and tanks were still working – the president of the community gave us a little hiking tour – but the slow sand filters had been neglected and were currently being bypassed. When we talked to the community members, they said that the water was okay without it, but that they would like to fix the filters if we thought it would make the quality better. We arranged to come back on Tuesday to help clean and to build a roof for the filters, since the old one blew off in a monsoon and the sun deteriorates them.
We next went back to El Porvenir, where Ariel and I held a women’s meeting. Paige, Bob, and Jesse ran the kid’s meeting and played games with them. Paige says she’s never met such well-behaved children and marveled at getting all her crayons back, especially since the rule was “one crayon at a time.” At the women’s meeting, we got the real deal on what people want for the spring box. We told them what the mayor had said and prompted them for ideas of where to put the 10 m3 tank, or where to put two or three smaller tanks. Since the community is very spread out, it makes more sense for the truck to make multiple stops to dispense portions of the allotted water. They seemed very interested in this proposal.
We also handed out toothbrushes and toothpaste to the women; each took several for their children. Luisa, a very old woman who lives by herself, was left out – but when Ariel asked, someone gave up one of her toothbrushes for her. It was a beautiful moment to see someone who has so little hand her gift to somebody else.
After our stop in Porvenir, we went to the hardware store to get corrugated tin for the roof in Arada Vieja. After much digging, Jesse and I found a handsome drill in Mike’s giant box of “things volunteer groups leave here” and one tiny masonry bit, for which we found a more robust replacement at the ferretería. After a delicious soup prepared by Anna, we tested our new samples for nitrates and phosphates. Ariel and I counted the coliforms from the day before (we had stopped the growth by refrigerating the petri dishes). The winner for the cleanest water source was the Guadelupe source, a town that had government-delivered water. The filtered sample from the Rio Muyapa was the runner up – ahead of the springbox by miles in general coliforms, but only slightly in E. coli. Grossly enough, the bottled Agua Cristal totted up to 450 coliform colonies in 125 mLs. But no E. coli, thankfully.
Ariel and I were a little fried from counting zillions of dots, so we decided to go out for ice cream. Out in the square the festival for San Jose was stilllll going on. That night there was quite the accomplished singer up in front of the crowd. We stopped to watch as we licked our ice cream and discovered that it was the mayor. We wonder what this man cannot do.
In other news, Bob says we have very smart cows in this country. Jesse thinks every cow we pass by is a goat. Un cabra gigante indeed! Ariel can’t work the shower because it has a small pipe coming out of the showerhead that steals all the water. I put my finger on the end of it and took a lovely shower, but not before calling her an idiot and leading her and Paige into a trap where I sprayed them with water. Work hard, play hard.