Sunday, May 31, 2015

Day 8 and Day 9: 5/25/15 and 5/26/1

Our day started off with Colin mixing and transporting cement for the tank walls, Laura and Hernan applying the cement, and Zoli, Ben and Kia working on the diversion ditch.  We got into a good work rhythm and were able to get a lot done this morning, and will continue to do so the next couple days!

Zoli is turning out to be a HUGE help to our team, we truly couldn't get everything done we needed to get done in time without him!  We are really learning a lot from him and his experience living in Asanquiri and his building techniques.  He's basically taking over the digging out of the diversion ditch.

Another task we wanted to get started today was making a new small lid for the tank to fit over the small hole where the ladder goes.  Zoli, Colin and Hernan worked on making the form and constructing a handle from a rebar.

Our hard work had a pleasant ending of some good ol' fried chicken that all gave us a little reminder of home!  All our meals are prepared by the wonderful cook Teresa, who is a student at the school as well.

All our meals are prepared by the wonderful cook Teresa, who is a student at the school as well.  Her baby is pretty adorable.

In a surprising turn of events Asanquiri actually got rain in both of the past two days!  So we had to cut our work off a little short, but it was alright we got some down time in the evening to relax and play some cards. 

Day 6 and Day7: 5/24/15

Day 6:

Our morning consisted of Hernan and Ben working in the tank chiseling off the Sika lining so we can reinforce the walls with sand concrete to stop the leaking.

Taking off the tank lid turned out to be quite the strenuous task.
 While this was happening, Zoli began to clear the area uphill from the tank for the diversion ditch.

Meanwhile, Laura, Colin and Kia worked on making an incubator for the coli form tests, as well as making a secchi disc to test the turbidity of the upper and lower springs.

 After a morning of hard work, this afternoon we got invited to watch a bull fight! None of us really knew what to expect, but it turned out to be really cool!  A bunch of locals get together and have this event every year, and it turns into a big party as well as a competition.  Everyone was super happy to have us and we got offered all kinds of different foods while we were there. It was a great privilege to see this unique part of their culture!  Here are some action shots of the fight.

El ganador

Day 7:  

There's nothing much more to report for today, a lot of the same tasks as yesterday.  We finally finished chiseling off the Sika lining, and the walls are ready for cement! And here's a picture of Colin's amazing incubator!

Workin' hard for that spring water

Kia should seriously be a photographer. Just look at that.

Day 5: 5/23/15

Our first full day in Asanquiri!  We got up at 7:00 am for breakfast and got to see and amazing sunrise.

After breakfast we asked Zoli to give us a tour of the area so we could get familiar with it and figure out exactly what we needed to do.
He was showing us their greenhouse!

One important goal we had for this trip is to restructure the diversion ditch around the tank of the 2013 system, as well as take care of the Sika lining on the inside of the tank that was peeling off.  Zoli told us that the 2013 tank has not been functioning well at all.  He said then when it fills up all of the water has leaked out within a couple days.  The tank was discovered back in 2011 as an abandoned septic tank and looks like this:

So we have made making this tank functional at least temporarily will be our main priority.  We decided it would be best to get rid of the Sika, and add a cement layer of reinforcement to the inside of the tank to try to stop the leaking.

Our first task of the day was to go with Damian to acquire sand and gravel for the concrete mixture.  After a lot of searching and some minor car trouble on the way, we found adequate sand and gravel mixture that can be used for the concrete of the diversion ditch, as well as reinforcing the inside of the tank.

After a long day, we all helped Zoli today in making a delicious dinner!

Intense concentration on vegetable chopping

It was nice to get to converse with Zoli and figure out how the water systems have been holding up, as well as how the school has been in general.

Saturday, May 30, 2015

Day 4: 5/22/15

After a night spent in Cochabamba, we got up bright and early to meet our community contact, Damian Sirpa, to travel to the project site in Asanquiri about four hours away.  But before we could leave we had to drive around the city and gather some supplies.  Damian helped us navigate through the hectic streets of Cochabamba to get what we need. 

The 4-hour drive in Damian’s truck to Asanquiri was a little terrifying driving through the mountains on a dirt trail with no guardrail, but beautiful regardless.

It was dark once we finally reached Asanquiri and the view of the night sky was breathtaking.  It was refreshing to be away from the big cities and enjoy the surrounding wilderness.

Here’s what our rooms looked like! The beds were actually pretty warm and comfortable.

After we got settled we talked with Damian about our schedule for the coming week and what we want to get accomplished.  We were also introduced to one of the teachers at the school, Zoli.  They were really thankful that we were there and really excited to get the project started!
After an 8 hour bus ride from Cochabamba we are back in La Paz!  Our week spent in Asanquiri was a lot of fun as well as very helpful in moving the project forward.  Unfortunately we did not have internet access at the project site so we were not able to update the blog at all, but there will be more to come!

There was actually a giant parade going on when we came into La Paz, and we had to walk through it to get back to our hostel.  It's the biggest annual festival in Bolivia!

We will keep updating the blog to share everything we did in Asanquiri, but for now here's a picture of all of us after we finished!

Thursday, May 21, 2015

Day 2: 5/20/15

We started our day today by taking a taxi down to El Museo de Instrumentos Musicales de Bolivia, or the Bolivian Musical Instrument Museum.  We got a good taste of some of the musical history of Bolivia, and even got to try out some of the instrument on display!  There were some really bizarre and interesting ones!

After some more shopping and walking around the city, we came across a really neat plaza where we stayed for while.  While we were they a band started playing the Bolivian national anthem, which was an awesome sight to see.

For lunch we dined at a place called Cafe Arte Tomino. It was a giant open building with statues of Roman figures scattered throughout, unlike any cafe I've ever been to.  

Here's what our food looked like!  Pork, potatoes and corn

After lunch we headed to another Museum.  This time it was the Museo de Coca, which refers to the coca plant indigenous to Bolivia which is a huge part of their culture and has many uses.  Chewing on the coca leaf is a common practice among many natives, and it is said to help a lot with altitude sickness, which is a common ailment do to La Paz being 11,000 feet above sea level.  It's also been used as anesthesia, used to make tea, as well as an ingredient in Coca Cola.  

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Day 1: 5/19/15

 Bienvenidos a La Paz!

Today we flew out of Raleigh at 6pm and began our journey! We first landed in Miami, and took a second flight into Bolivia.  We got to witness a magnificent sunset on our way!

After our 10 or so grueling hours of travel and making it through customs we entered the beautiful city of La Paz today at 6:00 am!  When we landed we took a taxi through the chaotic streets of the city and got to see some breathtaking views of the mountains.  

Taxi ride to the city

We arrived at our hostel, Hotel Sagarnaga around 8:00am and took some time to relax before we went out to explore La Paz.

Our temporary home, Hotel Sagarnaga

Without many other pressing tasks, we got the opportunity to spend a lot of time exploring the city and adjusting to the harsh altitude change. 

For a good part of the day we walked downtown and looked for potential souvenirs to buy in the many small locally owned shops or from the street vendors around the area, as well as looked for good places to eat. It was really cool to just walk around take everything in.  The way the city is built within the mountains makes for an extremely beautiful environment and some amazing views.

Later that evening we went out for dinner we got a taste of some delicious authentic Bolivian food in a really cool restaurant called Angelo Colonial.  The quiet ambiance of the restaurant in contrast to the loud populated streets made for a nice relaxing dinner.   We all got some variation of llama for dinner and the general consensus was that they were all delicious.  Here's some pictures so you can see just how cool this restaurant was.

After dinner we went back to the hostel and did some preparation for our upcoming trip, mostly making final touchups to the field manual we intend to give to the community in Asanquiri.
We are all very excited to continue to explore Bolivia in the upcoming couple weeks and work on the project!