Saturday, January 16, 2010

Last Day in the Community

So today was our last day to visit the people of San Jose Petacalapa. We are heading back to Guatemala City tomorrow so that we will have all of Monday to collect the rebar samples and do some souvenir shopping for the silent auction in March. Then home on Tuesday! I can't believe the trip is almost over! I will be very sad to leave again, I love being down here. But no time for worrying about that now!

So today we analyzed the results of our water quality testing. After letting our petri dishes full of the community's water incubate in Catherine's suitcase for over 24 hours, we discovered that most of the sites tested have fecal coliform colonies. A couple have E coli colonies, but not many, and most have some salmonella colonies. We presented these results to the community but explained that we cannot do anything about it at this time other than suggest that they boil their water. But we're hoping it might stir some water quality project ideas in their minds....we shall see!

We also planned to give the community a copy of the document we signed the other day (the Memorandum of Understanding), but for some reason the printer didn't want to print the PDF. We tried to convert the file to a Word document, but everything was skewed, so we ended up just printing a blank copy and had them sign it again on paper. But all is well, everything is signed! We also gave them a copy of our tentative construction schedule just to make sure that everything is clear for everyone.

Well that's about it for today! The rest of the day was just relaxing since we are done with our agenda! The next time we talk, we'll be in Guatemala City! As long as the hotel there has internet, that is!

Adios for now!

Friday, January 15, 2010

We have had two very busy, very successful days. Yesterday, we sat down in the morning to work out exactly what we were putting in the Memorandum of Understanding. Afterwards, we went to Malacatan for lunch and to obtain some rebar samples. Unfortunatley, there were no 60K steel available in Malacatan, just 40K. We were informed that they do carry 60K, but only by request. I guess we'll grab some 60K in Guatemala City on our way out of town...

After lunch we headed to the community to meet with the Comitte. We were supposed to be there at 1 but due to numerous delays (the rebar, lunch, our ride, etc), we didn't arrive until 3. It's amazing how no one was even surprised. People were even just showing up for the meeting themselves when we were getting there. I guess the difference between "Guatemala time"and "American time'" is not just the one hour time zone difference...

Sooo yeah, we didn't blog last night... probably because we got back from Mexico so late! Yeah, we went to Mexico for dinner. (It's not really a big deal it's only a five minute drive away). We went to Tapachula. There was a really beautiful square with a statue of Benito Juarez. A lot of us really liked this statue because of his famous quote, which translates to "Among individuals, as among nations, respect for the rights of others is peace."

Today (Friday) was extremely busy. We woke up early to go grab some water quality samples throughout the community. On our last trip in August, we had mentioned that we could do other projects besides a bridge project in a meeting with the whole community. On this trip, we were informed that people who lived in higher areas were having problems with their well water. I can't believe how deep these wells are--and they are all hand dug. We even got to see a well that was currently being excavated. (The family had realized that their well water was being affected by their sewage because it was turning brown). Personally, I would have claustrophobia issues if I was in a 20m deep well.

We also asked for a hole to be excavated for us at the bridge site to see if we would have resistance before hitting water level, but no luck. Like last year, we found that there is clay until the water level. Once again, I was thouroughly impressed with the way the people of San Jose Petacalapa can dig. The hole they excavated was 1m X 1m and about 3m deep; it was dug before lunch.

Finally, we had our Memorandum of Understanding signed today! It's nice to have an official agreement with the community, and I think it's reassuring to them to know that we have strong intentions to come back and finish what we started.

We went to Mexico again for dinner tonight. That seems to be the cycle; Malacatan for lunch, Mexico for dinner. Caitlin, Kelley and I noticed that Guatemala and Mexico both have a distinct smell; a mix of tar, diesel, and heat. It's hard to believe it's January at all, because today, it was 80 degrees F, and I know from experience that it was just as hot in August. January also seems so far away because despite the fact that it is the dry season, Guatemala is as green as it was the last time we were here...


Wednesday, January 13, 2010

First Blog from Guatemala!


So first off, I have to say that it took Caitlin and I about 5 minutes to find out how to create a new blog since all of the options were listed in Spanish and we both took French in school.....But here we are with the first blog of the trip!

We arrived at the hotel around 10 PM last night only to find that the hotel only had 2 rooms available instead of the 4 we reserved....But the girls shared a room and Evelio stayed with his mom, so all turned out well there. When Caitlin, Catherine and I walked into our room, however, we were greeted by a HUMONGOUS spider above our beds....And I mean larger than the size of my hand humongous....After a Raid shower and a very long pole, the hotel employee saved us from certain doom. Somehow we still managed to sleep after this traumatizing event.

Today we went into the village. We had a long discussion with some of the men of the community (who actually remembered me - I never would've thought!), and got a LOT of questions answered - awesome progress already! After talking to them for at least an hour, we decided to hike across the river and walk through the crop fields. We ended up walking pretty far through their crop fields and ran into the river further downstream and it was BEAUTIFUL. Definitely my idea of paradise, it was so serene.

After that we went into the town of Malacatan for lunch and also picked up a bag of cement for strength testing. We went back to San Jose Petacalapa and whipped up a batch of concrete! The men of the village mixed the concrete the way the normally have in the past - it was a really cool process to watch! We conducted the slump test failed miserably! We couldn't even measure the amount of slump because the concrete was SO soupy. We still filled six cylinders so that we could conduct 7-day and 28-day strength tests. Some of these samples will be left to test here, and the others will come home with us and we'll test them at home.

After that we just chilled with the community...Stephen, Evelio, and Guillermo played soccer with some of the guys in the community while us girls played with the cutest little girls! Now we're back at the hotel relaxing a little.

Stay tuned for the next update! :)
-Kelley and Caitlin

Monday, January 11, 2010

Trip 2!

The EWB-UD Guatemala team will be leaving tomorrow, so start checking the blog again!
Traveling on this trip will be Catherine Collison, Kelley Pyle, Caitlin Pretz, Stephen Mensah, Guillermo Gordillo, and, of course, the wonderful Evelio. We will be in country January 12th-19th. Stay tuned!