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www. WaterForHumans.Org

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Monday, January 25, 2010
We had breakfast and spent the morning at the “office.”  We talked briefly with Nelly about the rest of the day.  Rick talked also with Juan Jose about Friday’s meeting with Maria.  We may possibly set up a “Creativity Session” to come up with some proposals on the Big Question “how to provide Operations & Maintenance for the treatment system.”  We have some ideas but we need to local perspective to find a workable solution.  Late in the afternoon we met with Eirk Martinez (UABJO) to discuss how to complete the first round of water testing.  We were then invited to “sit-in” on his final class where his students presented their results of monitoring six treatment plants in the greater Oaxaca valley. 

Tuesday January 27, 2010
We had to get up early since class started at 8am.  We listened to the six presentations, and Nelly gave us a running overview (in English). I am amazed at her ability to do this, and I am getting better at understanding written text :).  Throughout the morning (until about 11 AM), Erik continuously stressed the advantages of aerobic systems over anaerobic.  We concluded that there are lots of opportunities to improve the systems and monitoring.  On the down side, only one treatment plant was functioning at a nearly acceptable level. 

We then acquired all the things we needed to take the black water samples at Santo Domingo.  This included:  5L bleach water (to clean up with) rubber boots, gloves, and sample bottles.  We arrived at Santo Domingo at about 12:30 (we will post a UTube in a few days showing the collection process so look for the link in a future post).  The collections went off without a hitch, and only took about 30 minutes to complete.

 To get back to the main road (to get a cab back to Oaxaca) we took separate Took-Tooks, and ended up in different places.  Thanks to cell phones we reunited and found a cab back to the city. We then took the bus to UABJO to deliver the samples. 
By then it was close to 3pm and WAY PAST OUR LUNCH TIME!  We stumbled out of the lab and had a quick lunch near UABJO.  A short bus ride back home and we all took a much too short siesta before our meeting at 5pm with Jorge (Maria’s technical advisor). I was not feeling well, so I kept sleeping while Stan and Susan met Jorge at “The Hub”. Because of my (Rick) sinus infection, I stayed in bed and tried to sleep it off.

The HUB turned out to be a good place to host the meeting with Jorge.  He gave a PowerPoint presentation of a proposal he made to Santo Domingo Barrio Bajo Etla of an anaerobic waste-water treatment system to solve their wastewater problems. He did not address the issue of the burned garbage but said they were separate issues.  We talked at length about maintenance, costs, life-span, sources of revenue, aerobic versus anaerobic systems and a myriad of other issues for two hours until Megan, our translator, called time.  It was a very informative meeting and provided much food for thought.  We walked Nelly home and went home ourselves.

Monday, January 25, 2010

It's the weekend :)

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Today is a relatively laid-back day of errands in the morning.  In the afternoon, Stan and I rode with Rusty and his wife, Eliza to Mitla.  It is a community southeast of Oaxaca, where many artisans live and sell their wares.  There were many rugs, shirts, dresses, pottery and sorbet to look at.  We had a delicious dinner at a roadside restaurant. I (Rick) still have a sinus infection so it is slowing me down quite a bit.  I find myself resting a lot and saving my energy for when I really need it.

Sunday, January 24, 2010
A total rest day for all of us.

I went to church and Stan to the Baha’i Center in the morning.  The three of us went to the Zocalo for lunch and toured the Zocalo to see the artisans wares.  We went to another artisan market where Rick found another shirt and Stan found some headbands for a friend.  We returned to the pension where I did some translating of some letters. 
We went to dinner.  Stan is starting to read the menu.

Friday, January 22, 2010

Firday 22 January 2010

Friday, January 22, 2010

I (Susan) woke up from a restless night at the “No Tell Motel.”  Today we meet with Maria (Santo Domingo). When we arrived about 1:30 and met for well over 3 hours. She said there had been a fire at the dump last Wednesday, and she speculated it was arson.  The dump is now a smoldering ash pile.  The sate has been pressuring Etal to clean up both the dump and implement a solution to the broken sewage plant.  However not much has happened on either front. The politics between Etla and Santo Domingo Barrio Bajo make it difficult to accomplish anything.  Maria has done a great amount of work to try to engage Etla to help clean up the dump, and move forward the idea of a sustainable solution to the sewage treatment plant.  She has engaged several state agencies to gather support for her cause, and we will help broaden that reach and increase the support and pressure to move forward.  We have several meetings planned with agencies, the town council of elders of Santo Domingo Barrio Bajo, Etla to arrive at a workable solution.
Tonight we have a meeting with the Oaxaca HUB.  This organization was started by a man from the US who has a business in Oaxaca.  The discussion centered on architecture and midwifery.  My translation skills were greatly challenged. 

Settling into our remote office and life in Oaxaca

Yesterday was a long day (Wednesday)!  We worked at INSO until 2pm then had a quick lunch.  After lunch we walked across town to the cash machine (to pay for our rooms). One thing we have really noticed is the masses of Americans that are here vs. when we were in the summer.  Our biggest success of the day is getting our cash machine card to work.  I was suffering from 2 errors.  First, I forgot to call the bank and tell them I would be out of the country, and I was using the incorrect PIN.  After talking to the bank everything now works like it should.

Stan and I are working hard to get all the year-end tax receipts to all our donors and update everyone on our email list.  We are finding that this takes a lot of bandwidth to keep our email lists current and clean of duplicate. I spent the afternoon updating our data base and generating spreadsheets for Stan to scrub and proof.  At about 5pm (typical work hours are 9-2, 5-7) we returned to INSO and worked until 7PM (we need to better a job of having a siesta in the afternoon).  After our long day we walked down to the Zocalo for a nice dinner outside. We had the pleasure of hearing a Tango contest that had about 100 people participating.  We are always impressed by the strong sense of community here as at almost any time of day or night the Zocalo is alive and full of folks.  Over dinner we speculated how something like this could happen in the US. One thing for sure is that we would have to re-think our relationship with cars, the TV, and get folks to realize that having public gathering places are really great.  Because this was a long work day we walked straight home and to bed.

Thursday, 21 Jan
Another day at the office in Oaxaca!  Oaxaca has several main streets all dug up as they are replacing some piping systems.  One of these projects is right near our pension.  Traffic from a major street is being diverted onto the road in front of it.  One thing is for sure; Mexico does road work much differently than in the US!  They use lots of manual labor, swinging picks, wrecking bars, and a minimum use of heavy equipment.

 As usual our day starts with a stop at the “Mango lady” for our morning boxes of fruit on our way to INSO.  She is always happy to see us and is amazed that we always return our washed plastic boxes for her to re use.  She seems to save us the “best boxes” for us; she also gave us a small bag of her pepper roasted peanuts as an extra treat.  Stan and I are catching up on lots of computer work and preparing for our upcoming meetings on Friday and next week. We are hoping that we can have a more relaxing afternoon; and meet up with a friend of Stan’s, Rusty and Eliza, who are from Bainbridge Island and staying in Oaxaca.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

We are back on the ground in Oaxaca!!

January 18, 2010
This marks the beginning of the second trip to Oaxaca for Water for Humans.  Our purpose this trip is to construct a business plan for Operation and Maintenance of a constructed wetland in Santo Domingo Barrio Bajo Etla.  I (Susan) woke up at 4 am for a 6 am taxi to San Francisco International.  I went through security surprisingly without a hitch.  The flight was blissfully boring and uneventful to Houston.  There, I rendezvoused with Rick and Stan for an uneventful flight to Oaxaca.  We sailed through customs and caught a taxi van to La Casa del Arbol.  We called Rosalinda to come let us in.  We met Dianne who is also staying there.  She runs a recreation program for seniors in Springfield, Oregon.  She is in Oaxaca to learn Spanish.  We talked at length with her about our project.  We went to bed around 11 pm.

January 19, 2010
We had a leisurely morning to get a working phone, breakfast, change money and buy groceries.  We went by INSO and bumped into Nelly and Juan Jose.  We caught up on things that have happened since July and came up with a tentative schedule for the time we are here.  There will be a Water Forum of Oaxaca February 12th at which Stan and Rick will present the project.  We arranged to meet with Nelly later this afternoon to call Maria Gonzalez, (the mayor of Santo Domingo Barrio Bajo Etla) and Justino Matadmas (the mayor of Guadalupe de Etla), Erik Martinez Torres (past director of the Chemistry Department, Universidad Autonoma Benito Juarez de Oaxaca).  After lunch, we finished errands and returned to INSO to arrange meetings.  We then had supper at Gozobi and returned home. 

Part of our task is to find examples of successful sustainability with water such as microdams in India, reforestation in South Korea and Gaviotas (an eco city-village in central Colombia).  These examples illustrate how sustainability and smart water use can turn around the effects of environmental damage.  Planting trees cleans the water and replenishes the underground aquifer.  Water draining through the different layers of soil works as a filter.  This process slows water run- off. This relates directly to many of the current water issues in Oaxaca as they are experiencing drought- flood cycles.  By making rivers back into "slow water" it will allow the water to recharge the ground water supplies and provide a more consistent water flow in the rivers.  We and INSO are working hard to offer sustainable solutions to water resource issues, we are preparing for several key meetings with local and state officials to present alternatives to a proposed large dam project.  Our solutions will build on many successful examples of small scale changes that lead to better water availability and supply.