Tuesday, June 11, 2013

We are back in the states and we can proudly say that our implementation trip was a success! Sorry for the lack of posts the past week! After finishing our project at CETHA, Damian brought us to a school in Arampampa (also funded by Save the Children) where we interviewed professors and students on water supply/quality. We were surprised to learn that there was only one tap available for 160 students! These interviews allow us to assess situations in neighboring communities for future projects/collaboration. Towards our last days at CETHA, Damian and Professor Zolio discussed how they were able to take from our project and know how to apply it. Hearing this from them was amazing! Not only will the project be sustainable, but also grow for the better good of the communities. Water supply is a huge need for these communities! Not just for consumption, but also for hygiene purposes. We will continue to communicate with both CETHA and the school in Arampampa when fall semester begins. Side note: past posts were also updated with pictures.

Water from an open catchment that the community drinks from when water is low
School in Arampampa
Us and Damian
After eating two lunches (one with Damian and another with CETHA), we headed back to Cochabamba. Gabe was so kind to drive us there and to La Paz rather than us having to ride a bus. But before we left, the students and professors prepared a goodbye and thank you speech for us. It was a very sweet moment. We couldn't be more grateful for this opportunity! We gained just as much from this experience as they did, and we are so thankful for it! 

Gabe and Christina also giving a thank you speech
Our tank!
Mosaic of our project

Highlights of our post-project free week in Bolivia: 

Ate ice-cream at Dumbo's! To sum that place up, it's like a miniature Chuck E Cheese, minus arcade games.

Visited Cristo de la Concordia (Jesus Christ statue). It's the largest statue of Jesus in the world!

La Paz
Bought items for our upcoming benefit dinner (they're some awesome items, so be pumped!)
Gabe brought us to a delicious French restaurant. It was one of those places you dress up for, but we went in our traveling clothes. :)
Took a tour to Tiwanaku (Pre-Incan Civilization Ruins)

Wes and Kia left back to the states two days early :(. It was odd saying that we only had 5 people whenever we would get a taxi or go out to eat. 
Explored parks and plazas around the city
Hello La Paz!
Art in the plaza
Mt. Illimani
Loved feeling like a kid again!
BEST slide ever!
 Watched a World Cup qualifying match (Bolivia vs Venezuela)
Score was 1-1
Gabe invited us over to his house to eat dinner and play pool. Afterwards, we sang some kareoke! Perfect way to end the trip.

Thank you again for following us on our EWB NCSU adventure to Bolivia! This experience was truly unforgettable and we are so grateful to everyone who has contributed to this project. A huge thank you to Ben Lord for leading our team!! You were a wonderful project lead and we will miss you a lot, Ben! 

Damian, his sons, and Ben
We will give more updates when fall semester starts again. Until then, have a wonderful summer!

Monday, June 3, 2013

It’s our last day in CETHA and our project is officially completed! This weekend has been super busy! It’s been filled with lots of painting, interviews, and everything else that comes with constructing a rainwater harvesting system with a huge concrete tank!
Us, professors, and most of the students at CETHA wolfpack style in front of our first flush diverters

Gabe and Christina showing/explaining the rainwater harvesting system
Hurray! Wes wants to note that he jumped high, but the camera shutter was too late. :P
Us again, normal and all
Rewind to Friday, the students left early that day to go home for the weekend, so the professors here were able to help us all weekend. Aside from implementing our rainwater harvest design, we’re also assessing for future projects. Some of our assessment work includes surveying, soil testing, and lots of interviews. We were able to interview the school’s nurse as well as Damian and Zolio (our contact and professor here at CETHA). These interviews really helped us get an insight in what they needed: water supply and knowledge in water technology. Meals here are generally starch, starch, and more starch. But they’re delicious and filling! But because they’re mainly starchy food, we’ve been missing snacks like peanut butter and cookies! Some of the snacks Gabe and Axel brought back from their last Cochabamba trip were Oreos and peanut butter, which we ate Friday night! They were amazing.
Oreo & Peanut Butter night!
After our night snack, we all hiked up a little mountain right beside the school and star gazed on mini stone benches. Star viewing here is unreal! The Milky Way is literally splashed across the night sky with stars twinkling like fireflies. Some of us even saw our very first shooting star!! Right next to the school is a big farmland with cattle, goats, and donkeys roaming around. Sometimes, they cross through our work site and we have to scurry to get all of our materials out of their way. There’s this one bull though that’s been chilling at the top of the schools main pathway for the past three days and we almost bumped into it on our way to our star gazing site! We weren’t able to see it until Ben flashed his flash light towards the bull’s direction and BOOM, two bright eyes with white horns were looking our way. We ended our Friday watching a couple of episodes of Workaholics before calling it a night. It was a nice and relaxing way to finish off our labor intensive day.

Saturday was just as busy, if not busier. Aside from finishing up major parts of our design, we started focusing on all of the details…which seemed to all add up into one big project of itself! The best part about having a hard work day is sleeping even harder during the night. Sunday was our big day because it was our last!
We used Sika Top Seal to seal the interior of the tank
Applying Sika Top Seal
Final cleaning of the tank
Re-sizing the ends of PVC pipes using a heat method
This morning was the best breakfast yet, hot chocolate and fried bread that was almost like a flattened fried doughnut/funnel cake. It was scrumptious.
We made our final list of small tasks to get done for the day and installed the last portion of the pipeline. Side note: we were interrupted momentarily by a herd of cows through the work site, but we fended them off successfully.
There will be a few tasks for the professors and the students of the school to complete, but we have prepared a checklist of scheduled maintenance for them to perform throughout the year. This ensures that the project will remain effective for years to come. After finishing work, we loaded up a car with our team, the professors at the school, and some of the students to go play sports at a nearby school. We played an intense game of soccer followed by two close volleyball matches. The teachers from the schools played our group in both sports. We showed a lot of improvement and everyone got involved in volleyball. We played until way past our normal dinnertime, but it was a great way to spend our last night. We piled back in the car and rushed back for dinner, but it wasn’t even cooked yet. The students cooked tonight, a delicious rice soup with lots of potatoes, carrots, and tomatoes. After eating until we were stuffed, we came back to the dorm to play cards, relax, and pack up for our trip back to Cochabamba.

We made it back to La Paz after staying a day in Cochabamba. More pictures and updates to come after a good nights rest! Thank you all for following our project!! We are beyond happy that it's implemented. A special thank you to everyone who helped us on this project!

Thursday, May 30, 2013

Since Sunday, May 26, 2013

It’s Thursday, May 30, 2013, and we’ve got a lot of the project completed. At the rate we’re going, we may be finished with all of our construction by Sunday rather than next Wednesday. Gabe and Axel (Gabe’s friend) arrived Monday night and have been a huge help to our project! Our days here at CETHA are pretty much comprised of eating breakfast, reviewing our agenda for the day, working till lunch time, eating lunch, nap/rest time, and working again until dinner. After dinner, we prepare for the next day by treating drinking water and going through a construction plan for the next day. Once all of our errands are finished, we hang around and have fun conversations…though we find most of our conversations leading to food. Monday night though, we borrowed a student’s guitar and sang a few songs for them. Wes played the guitar while Ben beat boxed, sang, and hummed like a trumpet. They’re both pretty much their own band with us as their backup singers. The students got a big laugh out of Ben’s beat boxing. So did us. We asked the students if they could perform for us, but they said we had to wait till cultural night on Wednesday. After singing Stairway to Heaven, Lion Sleeps Tonight, and a couple of other songs, we all gazed at the stars. The stars here are so mesmerizing! There’s hardly any light pollution, so we can see the Milky Way, lots of constellations, and stars twinkling like sunbeams!

Clean plate club!
On Tuesday, Christina and Ben headed out to Cochabamba with Damian to attend a CETHA meeting and buy more materials. From the CETHA meeting, we were able to gage possible future projects we could do. Tuesday was also our hardest working day, since we had to work with concrete and do a lot heavy lifting.

Framework to hold concrete in: patch tank hole and insert an outlet pipe
Gabe and Axel mixing concrete
Paul and Gabe mixing concrete
Wednesday turned out a bit different than we planned. Ben and Christina weren’t able to return till late in the evening and we are all pretty worn out from Tuesday’s work, so we ended up having somewhat of a rest day. And by rest, we mean, we did more cardio than heavy lifting. We started our day as another typical work day, but realized that we still didn’t have all of our materials, so Gabe and Axel went out to Cochabamba for the day. It’s a little crazy how we have to travel about 4 hours away to get our appropriate materials. While they were out getting supplies, the rest of the team hiked up to CETHA’s upper spring. It’s not that far up, but the climb there is pretty steep. After assessing their upper spring, we hiked up some more to the top of the mountain for fun. Altitude difference was definitely working against us during this hike, but the view was worth it. We were pretty much on all fours, using trees and shrubs to help us climb. There were a lot of rocks, but they weren’t helpful at all! I call them deceiving rocks, mainly because they look sturdy, but they crumble into powder or break off with just a light touch. After enjoying and soaking in the view, we tried to figure out how to get down. It was a lot of crab walking and sliding down the mountain.

Upper spring box
Upper spring box view of CETHA

View from top of the mountain
Thankfully, we made it just in time for lunch! We actually had meat! It was goat meat that they prepared earlier that week. After a wonderful siesta time, the students asked if we could play soccer with them at another school because they finished school early that day. We were a little unsure because we initially planned to continue working throughout the afternoon, but then they said that they wouldn’t be able to play unless we did. I’m pretty sure it was an excuse to force us to say yes, but we didn’t mind. Haha. We’re glad they want to include is in their activities! So, we walked over to a school in a town called Jatun-Kasa, down the road (30 minute walk). There were a lot more students in this school, mostly girls. Girls and boys play separately, so the guys played the first soccer round. Ben, Wes, Paul, and the professors teamed against the students. I think our guys did pretty well! They lost, but considering how easily tired we get from this altitude, they did great! While the guys played, Christina; Alec; and Laura, hung out with the other students. They were a little shy at first, but quickly became comfortable with us. They were all so beautiful and adorable! A lot of the girls were interested in our cameras, so we showed them pictures of our trip so far in Bolivia and let them play with our cameras. One of the best ways to get pictures of the students is to let them play with your camera. Then it was the girls turn to play soccer. We didn’t do so great…hahaha, but it was a lot of fun! After our soccer match, the guys and Christina played basketball and Alec played hackey-sack with the girls. Those girls are natural hackey-sack players, it was awesome! We did great in our basketball game (height advantage kind of helps ;) )!! Before we knew it, it was dinner time!
Thunderdome! Basketball/Volleyball/Soccer court all in one
Girls soccer match
Huddling to look at pictures
Beautiful students
Apparently, every Wednesday is cultural night, so the students prepared a string of talent shows for us. They danced, played guitar/chiranga, performed a comedy skit, and discussed their culture with us. They have such a colorful and beautiful culture. By their request, we performed a little as well. Christina and Ben explained our culture and then we sang a few songs: Lion Sleeps Tonight, Let it Be, Brown Eyed Girl, and a Wagon Wheel/No Woman, No Cry/Don’t Stop Believing mash. Yea, EWB-NCSU travel band right here! We’ve really enjoyed our time here at CETHA so far! We’ll write about today’s adventures later, but siesta time just finished and it’s back to work! Hasta manana!


Another work day for us! The weather was pleasant today though; it started out warm (about 70 F) and carried out through the day, until the sun went down and it was coats, scarves, and hats time again. We usually have some kind of fruit after lunch (so far, we’ve had bananas and mandarins), but today there was no fruit. We call them our dessert. No worries though, because Gabe and Axel brought sugar canes and a lot of mandarins with them! It was our first time having sugar cane and we loved it! Aside from working throughout the day, Gabe, Kia, and Christina had a Q&A with the students about our culture, politics, agriculture, geography, and history. Man, the community here really is great! We ended the night playing Rummy and eating peanut butter right out of the jar!
Sugar cane!

Sunday, May 26, 2013

Breakfast here starts at 7:30 AM, but because it’s Sunday, breakfast isn’t really served. We did, however, get hot chocolate. Still quite hungry we snacked on almonds from our snack bag and dreamed of food until it was lunch time. Later in the morning, Zolio, one of the professors, gave us a tour of the school with the students. They have three greenhouses, a guinea pig house (without guinea pigs), a small duck pen (without ducks), a chicken coop (without chickens) and ltons of little agricultural pockets of land wedged into the VERY steep slope. After our tour, we had an introduction and Q&A with the students. They seem really energetic and weren’t shy to ask us questions. They wanted to know about our culture, what kind of animals/crops we had, and how to say some English words. So in turn, we asked if they could teach us a few Quechua words (their indigenous language that remains from the Pre-Incan period…very different from Spanish). After the intro/Q&A, we went to work with our project. The students even joined and helped us! We actually got a lot of work done! Lunch starts at 12:15 PM, so we (including the students and professors) went to eat lunch. It’s kind of funny and cute how the students take turns peeking at us while they eat. The meals here are pretty substantial. It’s one of my favorite parts of the day. The students usually leave for the weekend, so they left after lunch. After meals, we have a time called “siesta” where we rest before working again. Second favorite part of the day. After a great nap, we went back to work. Again, we got a lot done! Hurray! We couldn’t really do much without the other group, so we hung around the school for the rest of the day waiting for them. This is when time really slowed down! It literally felt like we’ve been here for a week, but really it’s been less than 24 hours! We played soccer with one of the professors, but we couldn’t really play super competitively because of the altitude. The second group finally arrived at around 9:30 PM! It was a sweet reunion. It seemed like we haven’t seen them in weeks! We all caught up and called it a night. Overall, the project is progressing according to plan and we’re on schedule!

Side note: Wes says hello to his family! Christina says she’s alive! Alec says HI! Paul says “Hi Mom, hi Dad!...and my sisters too.” Laura says Hi to Mom, Dad, Bobbie Ann, and Sergio.

Kia enjoying breakfast
Some of us and some of the students
Connecting the polyethylene pipe to the tank from the professor's building
Dessert: mandarins! (Christina's silhouette)
Before picture of the tank
Tank at the end of the work day