The scouting trip in El Salvador went really well! My teammates (Gilbert and Raul) and I went to a very remote village called Cumbre del Olvido (translated literally as “summit oblivion” but loosely referred to as “the forgotten people of the high mountain”) in the mountains of El Salvador. To get to Tucuba, the closest town, is a steep rocky path that takes the locals about 2.5 hours to walk. Gilbert and Raul had been there back in October 2013, but this was my first time.
Our objective for this trip was to get approximate elevations and coordinates for the existing spring and determine the feasibility of building a cistern and long piping system to supply the village with water. We also needed to check the availability of materials and get pricing for our potential project.
We started with hiking up to the spring. The spring water comes out of the rocks about 50 feet below the top of the mountain year-round. The season right now is dry so the water came slow, but constant. Our plan is to build a cistern at the spring location and send some of the water down to the village through a series of pipes and tanks. We will have the remaining water overflow from the cistern and continue down the mountain naturally. We took elevations and coordinate information and talked to the locals about our ideas, potential dates and logistics. This project start date is tentatively set for January 2015 and will take two to three months to complete. Cumbre del Olvido is not easy to get too which will make project logistics and material transport challenging. The path to the village is cut off during periods of the rainy season which is why we need to schedule the project for the dry season. I am excited to work with this community because they are extremely eager to learn, work and provide for their families. They are the most organized and considerate village I have stayed with to date and I really believe that they will maintain the system we design properly. They want to make their village better for future generations and based on how they maintain what they have currently, I am confident that they will maintain the proposed water system. This short trip was just a location and materials scouting trip. Next, we will have to take the information we gathered to develop a design, implementation plan and budget. A lot to do, but it is so worth it and I am looking forward to being part of it!
For right now, though, my focus is back on my Spanish studies. I just got back to Costa Rica and I am beat. I didn’t sleep well due to rats (yes, another rat story will follow shortly) and I have my first exam in grammar class tomorrow (eek!).