How do you eat an elephant?

One bite at a time.

I first heard that phrase at Equip International during my Appropriate Technology training. No matter how overwhelming something seems, just going step-by-step makes it manageable and possible.

Ok, I know that is not a very tasteful analogy (pun intended!), but it is one that comes to my mind often on these types of projects 🙂

We have had a challenging first week in La Cumbre. First, the location the community was clearing for the water storage tank ended up filling very slightly with water because a very small spring was opened. Good! …and Bad! We bought pipe, cut slits into it, placed it in a trench at the spring opening and back-filled the area below/around/above the pipe with gravel. We needed the surface area for the tank location, but wanted to preserve the small amount of spring water (truly a trickle of water, but even a trickle is worth preserving) for laundry so we created a drain with the perforated pipe and had that pipe move the water from the spring to an existing pila where the ladies wash clothes. Here is a photo showing the trench we placed the perforated pipe:

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There are very few spots where we have enough room to build the tank which is why we needed to drain the water to the pila and backfill. The community was very skeptical when we told them we wanted to place the pipe and fill-in the area. They didn’t believe the water would come out the pipe if we covered it with the gravel and soil. It was a very tense twenty minutes after we finished, but the water finally flowed and it hasn’t stopped. This water is an extra source which is why we are using it for their washing area (pila). The spring water we are capturing for drinking water comes from rocks about 60′ above the location of the storage tank. That spring is a whole other challenge that we will be facing on Monday morning. We only have wifi today to send this post because we needed additional materials in Santa Ana (a large city in El Salvador). Getting materials here is not easy, but we are having fun working it all out (most of the time). We order our construction supplies from Tacuba. Tacuba is a little over an hour away (a very bumpy, steep, hour long truck ride). Typically, it would cost us $20 to get a truck to take us from La Cumbre to Tacuba or back. But, we have been using the construction delivery trucks this week. When they bring a load of supplies (gravel, sand, etc), we hitch a ride from La Cumbre to Tacuba. Order more supplies we need and then hitch a ride back on the next supply run to our community. The rides are really hard on us (dusty, tiring), but much faster then walking! I think it would take us over three hours to walk down and more to walk back up to our community. The truck can’t go more then 5mph and it is like extreme off-roading as it climbs the rocks up to La Cumbre.

I taught a hygiene class on Friday and that went really well. Raul was still on-site with us (Raul heads back to the States on Monday) so he translated. The men we taught were engaged and said they learned new things (like the importance of washing their hands and how to build tippytap hand washing stations). I am hoping to have the same classes for the women and for the kids.

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We have had a bit of a tough time adjusting. I was sick coming into the project so I didn’t even have a voice for the first few days on-site. My voice is mostly back but I am still coughing a ton and it keeps me (and sometimes Jess) awake at night. Jess is a bit under the weather as well, but staying healthy for the most part. We both understand it will take time for us to adjust to the climate, conditions, culture, etc. We just wish we were fully acclimated already 🙂

Keep track of us and the project via InReach- a satellite GPS unit we have to receive messages in La Cumbre (no cell or Internet service). Follow this link to see a map of our location and an option for messaging. No cost to anyway and we love receiving messages 🙂
https://share.delorme.com/Caitlinterry

 

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