Thursday, January 13, 2011

Colorado Trainride

This is a video I made which shows a stop motion view of Colorado from Grand Junction to Denver.

Monday, November 29, 2010

John Muir Trail Slideshow

I finally uploaded my JMT slideshow, here you go!

John Muir Trail from Cody Badger on Vimeo.
This is a slideshow showing the entire John Muir Trail in the Sierra Nevadas in California. It was about 232 miles long, and I did it in 18 days. My friend Mandy was with me for the first 100 miles, and then I finished alone.

Sunday, October 31, 2010

Los Gigantes de El Salvador

Again, here are my latest pictures from El Salvador.  Album 3 is the newest.

I am now done with my trip in El Salvador and writing this post from The Bagelry in Santa Cruz, CA.  If you ever come here, toast a garlic bagel with egg salad.  There are a lot of hippies, a diva in juicy pants, and a few hipsters hanging out here.  Four mothers with infants have passed through.  There is also one person working on her computer next to a table of douches.  Its great!  In addition to quality bagels, many social groups are represented.  Alright, well here is what I came here to type:

I would like to start things off with another video.  I am sharing this video to show off that i am all that represents manliness when preparing breakfast in the Salvadoran mountains with my machete, yet I still appreciate a good Kermit The Frog song from time to time.

I bought a legit machete and leather case from the hardware store in town, and finally began to fit in a little more with the community. Besides being able to cut firewood at any given moment, other machete bearers would salute me with more frequency. I used it for coconuts, unnecessary yardwork (aka practice), and sometimes a little trailblazing. Also, if i took it with me on a hike to the waterfalls all the naughty theives kept their distance.  I have done some hedge trimming with it for my mom since arriving in California.

Naptime at the Juayua market

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Firewood cart
When I last wrote, I was finishing up the construction of the pump house.  That all went according to plan, and has been done for quite a while now.  Bert, "El Jefe," came down from San Francisco for a week.  He's the Project Leader for my group, and we had a week of exciting events starting with the completion of the pump house on his first day.  He was accompanied by Lauren, my original peace corps. volunteer helper and housemate, for a little reunion.  As a thank you for all of her work that was instrumental in getting us connected with the community there, we took her to the hot springs i had visited about a month earlier.  During the drive out there, we passed a bunch of people with firewood carts.  They start on the top of the pass and have these soapbox derby style carts which are loaded with cut firewood sticks.  Then, all the wood is brought down to the towns for sale.  The featured picture shows everything, but I like this one and this one a lot more.  On her last night, I went with her and Isabel, a fellow peace corprs volunteer, to the bar and got into it with the owner and bartender.  They accused us of unknowingly being spies for the US government.  Isabel was offended and spent a few hours arguing that she was there for the love of humanity, and I kept thinking, "AWESOME, I'm spying!"

Lindsey stuck it out after falling out of an orange tree
Alongside Bert, Lauren, and Lindsey, we set up meetings with departmental mayors, village development associations, Peace Corps. head honchos, and the local engineers involved in our project.  Since we had a lot of waiting to do (described below) we began research on our next project with the community.  My group is in its second year of a five year commitment with San Juan de Dios.  One day, the mayor of Juayua invited us to visit a small village outside of the city who was in desperate need of 32 new latrines for all of its residents.  The existing latrines were in terrible condition, but we chose not to investigate more there because our main ideal is cooperative efforts, and in this project the solution is clear; we would just be providing funding.

Bert receiving applause after giving a speech to the community of Santa Elenita

 We also visited a small community of 160 people from the same family who did not have any running water.  The residents of Santa Elenita had to walk a half mile up a steep hill from the closest spigot with a fifty pound water canister on their heads multiple times a day during the dry season.  We were a bit more passionate about this project because the correct solution is not quite so cut and dry.  Awaiting responses from a few private landowners regarding permission (again!) to lay pipe crossing their land, we visited the community a bit more in depth to research the quality of life.  A makeshift town meeting was in session within ten minutes of our arrival, and we explained to them how we work and what we'd like to do for them.  They all gave us a tour of the area, realizing that few houses had flooring, one house I saw just had tarps for walls.  The level of poverty there was grave, but the residents were all smiles and positivity was present whenever we saw them. 

Watching the Giants v. Phillies with Lindsey, Bert, and Jikke
I had been watching all of the Giants postseason games in the hostel there via streaming.  It was definitely a great use of that $20.  I watched them take it to the wire with the Braves, then a very tense series with the Phillies, and even the beginning of the World Series with Texas.  It was very exciting for me, and this is a fantastic clip.  I felt kinda like an ass for watching sports from home while down there, but Giants in October doesn't happen all that often.  A fellow Giants fan, Bert went with me to the market and we bought a $9 BBQ, and we had two Giants BBQs while listening to KNBR or watching the game (depending on the mood of the bandwidth gods at the time.)  I am ready for them to take it all tonight.

Bert took off after seven days with a lot of new and exciting information to share with the rest of the team in San Francisco.  It was by far the most interesting and productive week I had while down there, and we both had a lot of fun getting it all done and talking about them Giants.

Field engineering work
During my last few weeks in El Salvador, my housemate Jikke and I cooked a lot of dinners together and went on a few platonic dates to the pupuseria around the corner.  The rain completely stopped about a month ago, so I also took many trips out to the waterfalls in the late afternoon for a quick swim.  With little work left to do at the pump house, the remaining task was to complete the electrical connection from the existing power lines to the recently installed lines.  This proved to be a painfully long process.  Being the "project manager" I felt responsible for making this happen, but it still felt weird to me to go pressure the community leaders to get the permission so the project would get completed while I was still in the country, being that it was purely a benefit for them.  Between my visits to the community, little progress would be made in achieving this.

Celebration day as the pump house is completed
We were also still waiting for the delivery of the pump from Germany, and it took a bit longer than expected.  The day Bert arrived, I found out that the pump wouldn't be in country til the very day that I left the country!  In the end though, the tardiness of the pump was not an issue because  the community still hadn't gotten the permission documents signed!  So, on my last day, I arranged a meeting with the VP of the community and gave him all of the relevant paperwork, along with a letter detailing the project.  I felt bad leaving without having finished the project, but I also felt that my departure date was set before I arrived in El Salvador, and the community leaders knew the timeframe of my stay the entire time.  I chose not to stay and see the completion of the project because I didn't want to feel like a babysitter.  I'm confident that all the means are in place to get it finished quickly, its just a matter of a signature and a phone call for the installation.

On top of that, I was really excited about being back home after two months to visit Sonny and to go to Chicago.

A few days ago, I attend the West Coast Regional Workshop for Engineers Without Borders, it was really interesting.  I learned a bit more about sustainable development in rural communities, focusing on clean water and renewable energy delivery.  If you thought this project was cool, there are hundreds of others happening all over the world.  It can be a very constructive way to help rural communities abroad and strengthen the bond between countries.  You can be a pseudo-diplomat!  Even if you're not trained as an engineer, there is a lot you can do!  //endplug

- pa panamericano!

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Those startling horses!

Saturday, October 9, 2010

Street Horses

Buenos Dias, Amigos y Amigas.

I haven't written an update in quite a while because I've been fairly busy and having lots of fun.  Since my last update, I've worked on the caseta quite a bit, swapped housemates, explored the region a little, and was graced with a visit from Elizabeth.  Here is a link to my El Salvador Photo Collection.  Photos from this post are in the 3rd album.

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Big Grasshopper
A few weeks ago, I was walking to Laguna Verde with Lindsay, the peace corps volunteer in San Juan de Dios, and she mentioned that her leg was kind of sore from falling out of an orange tree earlier that day.  We didn't think much of it, but she got an X-ray the following day revealing that it was broken.  I decided that I won't complain about the hike to work until I do it with a broken leg.  On the way there, we met a man with a bunch of Cypress tree seeds, and struck up a conversation.  He's in charge of reforesting the mountain.  He also has 12 children.  I noticed some legs in his bag, and he was surprised to find the biggest grasshopper I've ever seen.

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Getting started on the walls
Afterwards, we went up to the site of the caseta at the laguna, where the boys were laying the first row of blocks for the walls.  The plan was to build the new house over the old one so the pump wouldn't be exposed to all the rain we've been having.  They thought that our arrival was a good time to "cook" lunch.  ie, take out what the female figure in their life made for them while stabbing tortillas with sticks and roasting them over a trash fire littered with a few sticks, ignited by diesel.  Que rico!
The next day I tried to go back up to lay some block, the the gods of rain denied my passage.  Halfway up, I took refuge in a friend's house, waiting hours for the downpour to stop.  It was too late once it did, but I was happy because it meant I could go home and get ready to leave for Guatemala the following morning.

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La Catedral in Antigua, Guatemala

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El Arco de Antigua
I found myself in Antigua 9 hours and 4 chicken buses later.  I hadn't really been on any of the "gringo trail" sites since my trip two years ago in South America.  I found it difficult to adjust.  I didn't wanna eat anywhere cause they were all expensive tourist traps.  Thai, mexican, irish, american, italian, mediterranean, chinese, and fusion restaurants were at my fingertips, but i just wanted some dirty old local food.  My stomach is used to that now.  I settled for the next closest thing, Guatemala's only Irish pub.  Paying six times what i should have, I kind of hated it, but the food wasn't bad.  The American next to me struck up conversation with me.  He was a surfer brah from the midwest.  That was my cue to go to sleep and let the next day arrive a little quicker.

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Wandering around Antigua

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Magma flow in the rain

In the morning I headed to Guatemala City to pick up Elizabeth from the airport.  Smooth as a baby's bottom.  The pickup and return, that is.  We wandered around Antigua for a few days, surrendering to Central America's Downtown Disney as we called it.  Don't get me wrong, it's a beautiful city with lots to do, just a bit too much for me at that time.  That didn't stop us from eating some great meals and taking advantage of some nightlife finally.  We also took a rainy trip up to Volcan Pacaya, Central America's most active volcano.  There was lava!  I had gone up the volcano in 2006 with Pete aka Nacho and CJ, but this time was completely different.  It had erupted in May this year, showering one full meter of new volcanic rock onto the landscape.  The once densely forested area now only presented a few remaining trees, all of which were shaved bare by the rocky rain.  Mmmm, that reminds me of rocky road ice cream.  So, it was absolutely nothing like my first trip up there even though it was only four years later.

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Volcan Pacaya

Back in Juayua, we were welcomed with tummy aches and rain.  Lots of both.  While my stomach of steel was fine, but Elizabeth insisted on eating some raw lettuce mix on top of her pupusas (cause its really good) and got the ol' Revancha de los Almohades, as Chris coined so poetically years ago.  It also rained like crazy for four days straight.  We weren't really able to do anything around Juayua because of it.  One day, I couldn't even walk the 2 blocks to the supermarket due to the class V rapids flowing down my street!  I twice attempted to go to the laguna to see the progress made during my time off.  I made it once, taking a few pictures, but it had been going slow due to the rain.  Jikke and I each fell on our asses scrambling down the volcano to learn that we just missed the bus on the way home.  I think she was annoyed with me a little for this wet adventure, so I yelled and ran after a truck heading downhill.  We saved ourselves from 7 rainy kilometers on foot with a cramped ride in the back of a toyota. The other passengers were a soccer team doing some altitude practice, and their main concern was Jikke's marital status.

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Elizabeth and I in the rain
We got cabin fever and visited Ataco in the rain.  The next day, the weather cleared up so we went to some beautiful thermal baths nearby.  It was relaxing to the max.  They were situated in a coffee plantation, and everything was meticulously cared for.  Some rich guy who was into fair and clean coffee trade owned the place, and it was really nice.  I hope to go back.  We spent a day in Santa Ana, supposedly El Salvador's culture-y city but I was happy to leave for Lake Coatepeque.  It was beautiful, just check out the pictures of all this stuff.

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Lago Coatepeque

Since Elizabeth left, it has not rained a drop.  I bet the guy who owns the town dryer is bummed about all this sun we've been having.  I, however, am not.  I like the sun.  I also like going swimming.  I also like it when my clothes dry.  Since there are no more clouds, I see multiple volcanoes every day.  I also witnessed a man wearing a backpack containing a live and curious rooster walk past a wheelbarrow full of eggs for sale.  Not something I've ever seen before.  If only the bus wasn't driving 100 mph, I would have taken a photo.

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Cockroach found in my boot
the team of OG's:  joalmo(?), chema, oscar, and ?
Working on the form for the roof
At this point, we've finished construction of the new caseta.  On my last day of construction, I met with the pump engineer to drive up to the lake together.  He needed to take some measurements.  When he arrived, I put my boots on in the foyer.  I felt a little lump in my boot, so reached up to pull it out.  Nothing was there.  Wtf?  I put the boot back on, and *crunch* went something.   Hmmm.  I shook the contents of the boot into my other hand, and learned a valuable lesson.  Don't shake out what you don't know into your own hands.  It was a huge cockroach.  I screamed and flung it into a nearby garbage can.  The engineer thought i was a wuss, and rightly so.  The bug was alive in the trash when i got home that afternoon, so I took a picture.  I can still feel the crunch under my toes.  Gross.  Up at the lake that day, the engineer took his measurements and the cement was poured onto the roof!  It will be dry in a couple of days, and then we just have to take out the forms and clean up the old materials leftover.  The floor is already done, so all that's left is the pump installations and perhaps some decorations.  I'm thinking some sort of floral wallpaper.

Pouring the roof on the new caseta

Once ready, we'll put the old diesel motor and pump back in as a backup.  The new pump will be installed in about a week and a half.  By that time, the power should be on as well, and our project should be complete in about 2 weeks.  One of my remaining tasks is to write up an operations manual for the community, in case someone new comes to work on the pumps, they'll have proper documentation.

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Beautiful day at Laguna Verde

During this week off, I've been visiting the nearby waterfall a lot, its been really refreshing with the heat and sun.  I sunburned myself yesterday, so I'm taking an "inside day" to write this and load pictures.  Jikke and I have been cooking a lot, too.  We made mediocre mushroom sauce.  My typical breakfasts are a smoothie consisting of three oranges, three bananas, half of a papaya, and honey.  I usually eat one coconut per day.  Its a fruit-filled life here.  At least in the morning.  Afternoon and evening is more of a starchy life.

Loose horses at the supermarket?  Last night, as we were walking to the store, and I thought I heard one of the town drunks rustling in the darkness under a tree.  I was surprised to find a huge horse instead.  Then another across the street!  I was surrounded!  They were still there, half a block from the supermarket at 8pm, completely unattended.  Jikke and I considered borrowing them.  In the end, I declined because El Salvadoran jail sounds bad, and my last bareback horse experience left me with a bloody head.

Today is Saturday, meaning local food fair here in Juayua.  It happens every weekend here.  There is bad marching band music in the distance.  I think today is some special day, supposedly there will be a dance this afternoon.  So excited!  I shall go seek out said dance and cooked rabbits.

vista on the way to work
View on my way to work

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Two and a Half Hour Commute

Here is a video of me shaving.

After two and a half months of growth i decided to shave my beard.  The humidity here was creating microclimates in my chin area, causing afternoon thunderstorms that hurt my face.  It was also trapping too much food, inspiring the roadside roosters ferociously peck at me on my walk home from work.  I am now the owner of 1 (debatably) pretty mustache.

Here is a joke:

There r 3 baby cows & a momma cow. The 1st cow says "Momma y is my name Rose?" & the momma cow says "Bc when u were born, a rose came down and fell on your head." The 2nd cow walks over and says "Momma y is my name Daisy?" Momma cow says "Bc when you were born a daisy came down and fell on your head." By this time the 3rd cow has walked over & he says "ajfhafkheuugweubgv" and momma cow says "Shut up Cinder Block."

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My new mustache.
Alright.  Enough funny stuff.  Literally!

Here is a link to the newly posted pictures on my flickr site.

I have been doing some more fun and exciting things, mostly having to do with my EWB project here.  Last week, Arturo, one of the community leaders in our site, asked Heath, Lauren, and I to attend the general assembly on Sunday.  At least one member of each household was required to show up, so there were about 300 - 400 people there.  Heath and I were surprised to discover that we were about to be up on the big stage, and were expected to say a few words about our project!  The nerves were going, I'd never spoken to more than a class or team.  And those were always in English.  After Arturo explained the finances regarding our project with the community (for about an hour), it was our time to shine.  We didn't really; more of a dull glimmer.  Wet rust, maybe.  Heath got stagefright and said a few somewhat understandible words, before handing me the mic.  I wasn't really ready for it either, going up there intending to emphasize that our end of this project was all donation money, not our own.  I think I was successful at that, but to be honest I don't really know.   Those 7 or 8 minutes of my life are a memory most similar to those after a night of heavy drinking (I've been told.)

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Limbing up the tree
The next day, we were informed by our local Peace Corps. liason, Lauren, that we were expected to give a little talk at the nationwide Rural Health Convention, where all 40ish of the Peace Corps. volunteers in the country get together and schmooze. 

So, on Tuesday after a long day of cutting down branches that were obstructing the new power lines, Heath and I hitched down to Hotel Alicante, a super swanky resort that Peace Corps. rented out for 3 nights.  We were given our own room with hot showers, and good food in the dining lounge.  The place was enormous.  In exchange for the room and board, we figured it would be best if we put together a professional "seeming" presentation, touching on the intention and goals of EWB, and how Peace Corps. can utilize our services.  It kind of was, but it also featured us with our shirts off on at least three occasions.  Heath and I were thrown into the Peace Corps. social scene that night, and we all went into town to watch the "Noche de Velas," or a candle ceremony thing that was going on.  We made our presentation that night after we got home.

Heath and I giving our presentation
It went really well actually, lasting about an hour and being quite informative.  Here is a link to the slideshow we used, if you care to see it.  One of the many things Heath and I discussed in preparing the presentation is that as engineers, we like to think and solve various problems.  Obvs.  But often times, people would ask us if we could come build them a bridge, or fix some road, or in this case, improve their pump system.  Its all fine and dandy, but many of us really like to start from scratch.  For example, for our next project here we've been discussing coming up with some sort of solution to the lack of recycling, and excess of garbage here.  There is no clear solution to this, but we've come up with a few good ideas, and I find it much more intriguing than simply fixing something more obvious.  Burning plastics, tossing trash everywhere, not recycling, and others, are common sights here and I don't think they're generally regarded as something that needs fixing by the majority of local people.  Obviously, I don't like the idea of "the white man" telling people what they're doing is wrong and dirty, but I do believe that helping a community with sanitation like this would be great.

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New transformer for the pump.
Other than this, I've been working a bunch up at the laguna.  There are only a few buses per day, and I don't always time everything with them.  Sometimes that results in me walking almost 10 km completely uphill, with about a 3000' net gain in elevation.  And then again back down to arriving home just at dark.  Sometimes I can hitch a ride, but more often than not, I do the entire walk without seeing a car going my direction.  I usually stop at Heath's place and his host mom will cook me breakfast and we walk together.  Almost at the top of the crater, we stop at a little spring and pump our drinking water for the day.  Needless to say, by the time i get there to work, I'm soaked in sweat (or sometimes rain) and already a bit tired.

The electrical engineer is just about done installing all of the new posts and has strung up the new power lines as well.  All is ready to give power to the new location, except we're having some trouble getting the final 15 feet or so of branches limbed.  Something going on with not having permission yet.  Supposedly, it will be settled (aka, ignored) and just done next week.

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Heath bending some bars
Heath and I have spent about 5 full days up there gettin' dirtyyy.  There are three other guys working with us.  Chema is probably in his late 40s and is quiet and friendly.  He really likes it when we say dirty things in Spanish, or when we mention beer.  Oscar is younger, quieter, and probably the hardest worker.  I think those last two usually go hand in hand.  Then there is (insert name here).  His name is really hard to remember.  Let's just call him Jabba, cause thats kinda what he looks like.  If you're not into the whole Star Wars scene, Buddah will do.  I only poke fun (think Pillsbury Doughboy) cause he is the ONLY worker there (there are also about 8 electrical workers) who spends the entire day with his shirt off, and I am forced to be reminded of his belly and breasts when describing him.  He's also got a GREAT personality!

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My hands after working.
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Digging a trench for the foundation
Heath and I have learned how to tie re-bar together with wire to make the columns, foundation, and roof structures.  These will be cast in concrete, and take all of the load of the house.  We also dug out some of the foundation.  This is a really cool project, because we don't use any kind of machine or power tools in the entire process.  We have bolt cutters for cutting the re-bar, a saw, some wire cutters, bending bars, hammers, shovels, picks, and a pry bar.  And brute strength, of course.  We used a clear hose filled with water to level the floor of the new foundation, which I thought was really cool.  Chema even carved a new pick handle out of a branch with his machete one day, cause the old one broke.  Working up there is a lot of fun.  We showed up on the first day and said we were there to help with the construction.  I think they thought we were joking because they'd didn't really know who we were other than a couple of giant foreign guys.  Heath and I spend most of the day up there BSing with those guys, but doing the same work that they do, eating the same lunch, and getting just as dirty.  I think its important for the community to understand that we do have some money to give here, but the work isn't about us just giving away a bunch of money.  

I leave the house around 6:20am, and am back around 6pm, and am pretty exhausted at the end of the day.  I've got a bit of a scratchy throat and "called in sick" today, but Heath called and said things were still rollin' up there.  I plan on being back up there tomorrow, unless Lauren gets me sicker.  She's got Giardia, a cough, weird burn, and the barfs.  I'm making sure she stays put in her shed out back.

Other than all this work stuff, I haven't had a ton of time to play around, but I did get a chance to visit Los Chorros de la Calera.  Check them out.  There was a tunnel there that led through scary underwater passageways, and i swam through them.  You can also jump off the cliffs there.  If any visitors come here, its about a 20 minute walk from my place. 

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Los Chorros de la Calera

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

No Border Big Enough for This Engineer

I hope you like my clever post title.  I do.  I am in El Salvador right now, today marks the one week anniversary of my stay here.  Here are my Pics

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Juayúa, El Salvador
This post is broken up into two parts.  Background Details explain why I'm here, and who is involved.  Fuñ Stories are, well, fun stories.

Let me start out with a lesson in geography.  El Salvador is a small country in Central America.  Now, its time for lesson number two.  I will probably learn a little here too.  I am currently staying in a small town sort of near the Guatemalan border named Juayúa, working on a project with Engineers Without Borders.  The project itself is a water pump system for a small village near Juayúa, San Juan de Díos.  Primarily a coffee growing region, San Juan de Díos has less than 2,000 habitants, and uses Laguna Verde as their primary source for water.  Our goal is to replace the old, smelly, dirty, unreliable, and inefficient diesel pump with a nice and shiny, top-of-the-line, efficient Grundfos electric pump.

View El Salvador in a larger map

Wow, I can't believe I was able to put that cool map there.  Hopefully you guys can all use it, if you play around for a little bit, you'll have a better sense of where I am right now.  So, there you have an idea as to where Laguna Verde, San Juan de Díos, and Juayúa are.  Play around to figure out where I am from San Salvador, Guatemala, and your house too, its fuñ.

I've been here for a week so far, its been great.  I arrived last Wednesday, and met up with the rest of the EWB crew.  Jim, Alondra, Kate, Jennifer, Heath, Snigdha, and our Peace Corps contact Lauren were had all been here a few days before me.

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Chicken Bus
I met a guy in the airport who gave me a ride to the bus terminal, and then took 2 different chicken buses to get here to Juayúa.  It was pouring rain, so I jumped off the bus and ran quickly into the nearest open door I could find.  It was a little snack store, so I felt obligated to get some jugo de melocotón (peach juice and favorite word of mine) from a can.  I asked around for directions to the hostel and got here in a few minutes, dantily hopping over temporary urban waterways in the streets along the way.  I hurried in the door, but none of my EWB buddies recognized me with my hood, huge beard, backpack, and apparent can of beer in my hand, they thought I was some bum looking for a cheap room.  I was just a bum with a reservation.

Background Details

I was thrown into meetings and negotiations within an hour of my arrival with a few of the involved parties.  Before I go on too much, I will describe who is involved, and what we are trying to accomplish here.

Diaz:  Electrical Engineer who will be installing power poles, lines, and the transformer to the pump
Caesar:  Engineer with Sagrisa, the pump vendor and installer
ADESCO:  Elected heads of the community of San Juan de Díos (Asoc. de Desarrollo Comunal)
Arturo:  Head of ADESCO, likes to rub his belly
Alcalde de Juayúa:  Mayor of Juayúa
Joel y Juayo(?):  Two guys that work for the water company and are "responsible" for us gringos
Coopertiva Brisas de la Laguna:  Similar to a homeowners association, for the Laguna Verda area
Peace Corps:  USA volunteer agency.  Lauren has been here for 2.5 years and brought EWB here
Alfaro:  Landowner at Laguna Verde

Ok, so as you can see, things are very political and there are a LOT of people to schmooze with.  That is my job here, in a nutshell.  Originally, our plan was to build a new pump house, sump well (hole from which the pump sucks), pipe from the lake to the sump, and pipe from the pump to the holding tank up the hill.  This was to be built where the current power pole exists, as to not spend a ton of money on power poles and lines.  All was going well until Alfaro, who had originally granted us permission, rescinded his offer and said that he did not want us to bury the piping on his land (but the pump house and sump well were fine).  Our only feasible option then was to use the existing pump house across the laguna (on a different land owner's property), but to bring the electricity to it, by installing 7 new power poles with lines and a transformer on Alfaro's property.  We get screwed, he gets free power poles.  Everyone hates him now, and are trying to ensure that he cannot tap into the power poles we're putting up.

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Laguna Verde

EWB, ADESCO, Sr. Diaz, and the Alcalde are working together to accomplish this modified plan.  You might ask, "You're all engineers, why don't you just do it yourselves?"  and that is because EWB promotes local and sustainable use of services and materials.  Local engineers are much more experienced than us in this kind of terrain.

- Sr. Diaz is installing everything electrical, for about $15k.

- The Alcalde is providing Diaz $5k for the power poles, and other workers as they are needed.

- ADESCO is paying Diaz $8k as well as building the Caseta (pump house) with Heath and I from EWB, which will be another $2k.

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The Pump House

- EWB is providing $2,500 to Diaz, as well as providing the pump, another $12k from a local pump vendor, Sagrisa.  They also cover living expenses while the volunteers are abroad.

Business Meeting.  Bert and Lauren have facial hair too.
At the end of the day, this project will probably cost about $30k.  The community of San Juan de Díos doesn't have that much money, or the get-up attitude to put everything together, which is why we help.  We are trying to teach that sometimes its better to spend more now, to save a lot more later.  The electric pump is much more efficient and electricity is cheaper per kWh than diesel.  That, on top of maintenance, will save them a good amount of money.  Plus, its much cleaner.  My job is to live here for the duration of the project and oversee that it gets completed smoothly by making sure that all parties are on the same page.

There was also another part to our work here, which was an education installment.  I was not a part of this group, but Kate, Alondra, and Jennifer taught for 3 days at the school in San Juan de Díos about sanitation, science, sustainability, and why they're important.  They said it was very successful.

Fuñ Stories

Now.  Funness.  Hope the other part wasn't too dry.  Wait.  I'm gonna go get some more crackers and ham.  mmmmmm!

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Playa Los Cobanos

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Lauren playing with death
On Friday, we all had the day off, so we took an EWB trip to the beach.  We hired a truck with a "people rack" in the bed and headed out.  Our driver even went swimming with us!  We found a dead Moray Eel floating in the break.  We played with it respectfully and then returned it to its home.  We also all got sunburned.  Two people got some sort of toxin at some point during the day and had to go to the hospital, but they are alright now.  Maybe that will teach us not to play with dead and poisonous sea creatures.

We went on another adventure on Saturday.  ADESCO leader Arturo took us to a meeting at the Brisas Co-op's place.  This entailed dodging enormous spiders while riding in the back of his 4x4.  Thats also when I got my only picture of the EWB (plus Peace Corps) team.

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Snigdha, Jim, Heath, Kate, Jennifer, Lauren and I take a ride in the truck

On monday, Heath and I were escorted (by hiking) through coffee fields and other forests to Laguna Verde for my first glimpse of it.  We had a lot of fun hiking in the rain and chatting with Joel and Juayo, our "tour guides."  I finally got to see the pump house, and we also chatted a bit with Diaz's workers who were digging holes for the electrical posts.  I think that was the last place those guys were expecting to see two huge white dudes.  Its beautiful up there, I suggest taking a look at some of the pictures I posted on my flickr site.

Life at the hostel is pretty good, I have internet here and have been catching up on a lot of things (like this!)  I'll soon be moving up to stay with one of the families in San Juan de Díos, but I'll still be able to come down here and check things every few days.  So, other than meetings and stuff, no super crazy stories yet... I'll let you all know if I decide to eat any more poo stew.  I think I've had enough writing for a the day now.

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Big Sky Country Pictures

This is going to be quick just so I can get my pictures up here.

I went from Santa Cruz to Ben and Jessie's wedding in San Diego for the weekend.  Then, Elizabeth, Ryan, Angie, and I took off driving to Glacier National Park.  It was awesome.  I may write a little more about it later if I find some time.  From there, Ryan and Angie drove home so Elizabeth and I hitch hiked to Kalispell and stayed with Lauren Casey for a few days at her parent's house.

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After that, due to lack of public transportation in Montana, we hitch hiked down to Darby and met my dad to stay a week at his cabin in the Bitterroot Valley.  That was fun too.

We then took the train from Whitefish to Chicago, where Elizabeth moved for grad school.  We spent a week there and then I went home.

Really boring.  Sorry.