Thursday 28th February, 7pmWednesday was a big day with Nuevas Esperanzas, an organisation whose projects we have helped to fund from Oxford.
We set off at 7am to go to the mountains in the Nuevas Esperanzas four wheel drive, pick-up truck. Someone had to travel in the back and for the first stretch it was me!Andrew has an interesting use of the word "road". He told us they had built roads to reach some of the remote villages. For "road" read "rough, stony, bumpy bridle way”. I was worried about riding a horse but can see they would be the best form of transport here. Even with the potholes of Oxford we cannot imagine driving up a rough stony track.
It was not a smooth ride at all, but it was far too hot to get out and walk. Especially for a wuss like me. Can you believe, when it comes to climbing volcanoes, four wheel drives are even more useful than they are in north Oxford.
We visited lots of NE projects, mostly to do with water supply - tanks to collect rainwater, storage units by fresh springs. We also went to the area contaminated by arsenic and watched as Leo, one of Andrew's employees, analysed the levels of arsenic. Very sad. The WHO standard is 10 parts per billion and we witnessed levels of 35, 50 and over 200.
I did walk, or maybe scrambled is a better description, down to see the spring where they have built a storage tank. Andrew was much kinder than my brothers ever were in helping me down the hard bits. So the earth was dry, black, sandy and very dusty and it was hot. Very Hot. The team are building a pipeline to carry the fresh, filtered water, with the arsenic removed, down to the villages on the plain some km below.
We also went to one of the apiaries that they have set up. John, Mike and Jo all donned the full suits and went to handle bees. Pete and I wimped out and sat with the locals in a veranda and had a go on the hammock. Yes people really do use hammocks!
Rural poverty is something else. It is shocking to see the very basic shacks that serve as houses here. But then I suppose if you live on the side of a volcano, you wouldn’t build a strong brick house!
There is lots more to say but we really must go…..