It is another world here and for all that we read of hear of the poverty and the heat, nothing quite prepared me for actually being here. It's Friday morning here and the others in the delegation are returning to Oxford tomorrow. I'll move out of the hotel and will stay for a few days with a doctor called Aurora. She spent some time in Oxford a few years ago and stayed with Jane Mercer and has kindly offered me her spare room.
So far this morning I visited the covered market of León, which is sort of like ours but with some very strange-looking fruit and veg. I then went to the cathedral and climbed to the roof. Obviously, being the sort of person who often climbs church towers... (how many have fallen off chairs reading this?).
Yesterday I met with some Biologists in the Entomological Museum. Once they got over their disappointment that I'm not a fellow Biologist, but a mere messenger, it was very encouraging to speak about co-operation across the continents in scientific research. I love the idea of students from Oxford coming to do field work here - as long as I don't have to crawl on jungle floors looking at bugs.
|In the Museum of Entomolgy|
We were also taken to the lovely Botanical Gardens outside of the city.
My big tale really is Wednesday, when we went "out in the field" with Nuevas Esperanzas. I sent a summary yesterday although hadn't explained clearly that the long pipeline that they are building to take water down the mountain is because the water up the mountain is absolutley pure with no arsenic, so that intention is that this will be the drinking water for the communities on the plain - there is a limited supply. They will use the water with arsenic for washing: it is only poisonous when ingested. This is the compromise solution that seems safest for the people.
Now, at last, some photos:
A well highly contaminated with arsenic on the plain below Volcano Telica
Working hard! The local people in the background were discussing forming a co-operative for their beekeeping. This is a project set up by Nuevas Esperazas to encourage diversity and they hope to export the honey to the UK.
Meanwhile Jo, Mike and John visited the bees themselves...
Cllr John Tanner and Mike Rowley prepare to meet the bees.
Hot water spring on the volcano
A rainwater collection tank
View of a volcano from the back of the pick-up
Street scene in León
Making breakfast in the kitchen of a primary school, with funds from another Oxford organisation. (This is was a different day.)
Children eating their breakfast in El Platanal Primary school. The menu was tortilla, beans and rice and a cereal drink. Note the water tower - base made of asbestos...