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Saturday, October 15, 2011

From Oaxaca - October 11th

We made it to Oaxaca Monday evening October 10th.  We left Seattle on Sunday, the 9th, and spent the night in Houston with Dr. Firdaus Jhabvala (Natural Systems International) and his wife, Josefina.  The next day, Monday, we all went to Mexico City, and ate a late lunch at the airport.  Firdaus (Dr. J) and Josefina left the airport and spent the night in Mexico City, so that they could renew Josefina’s visa on Tuesday.  Rick and Stan left the airport and continued on the final leg of their trip to Oaxaca.  Nelly met us at the airport and took us to the hotel.  This is a government provided hotel which is, by far, more luxurious then the accommodations we are used to.

From Bard College
Tuesday morning we ate at one of our usual breakfast locations, stopped to buy fruit from our usual fruit vendor (it was good to see her again) and proceeded to INSO.  There, we met the INSO staff as they arrived for work, along with a visiting professor and two students from Bard College in New York.  Nelly told us the night before that the plan was to visit Erik Torres (chemistry professor) at 10 AM at the university (UABJO-Universidad Autonoma Benito Juarez de Oaxaca) and then visit with government officials at 5:30 in the afternoon.  The government was sending a car to take us to the afternoon meeting.  By Tuesday morning, things had changed.  There was a disturbance at the university (strike) and the government meeting was changed to 1 o’clock.  So, Erik came to us and the car picked us up at noon.

Erik from UABJO
When Juan Jose came in we met with him to discuss the planned meetings, our respective roles in them and potential talking points to bring up.  After strategizing with him for about an hour, Erik showed up and we spent time with him.  Erik brought us up to date on his end. He showed us some new data from Santo Domingo Barrio Bajo Etla water samples collected and analyzed by his students.  He has a much closer working relationship with Carlos (at INSO) on the Water Forum.  The UABJO constructed wetland is in good working order and he is trying to reduce its gas emissions to minimize the future fire potential.  Work with Etla is as challenging as ever.  They asked him to recommend a plan to move forward and then refused to sign, cooperate or comment on his proposal.  He has also developed a comprehensive manual for a potential certified lab.  He has been very busy on several fronts.

Our first meeting with Secretary Cajiga
A van picked us up at INSO at noon and took us to the state office buildings about thirty km away.  Besides Mr. Cajiga, the Secretary of Finance, there were representatives from CONAQUA (federal water commission), CEA (state water commission), ADOSAPACO (municipal water department), INSO and WFH.  The discussion centered around rainwater harvesting.  Juan Jose gave a lengthy presentation, which was followed by a discussion of ways to implement rainwater harvesting pilot projects. There was a lot of interest at all levels for trying new ways of obtaining water and most seemed to have an open mind about doing something. However, no concrete plans were made to do anything.  Tomorrow the topic of discussion will be sanitation.

We returned to INSO, ate a late lunch and worked with Nelly to prepare a PowerPoint introduction to and handouts about Water for Humans for tomorrow.  We then ate dinner with Mara (professor from Bard College) and went back to the hotel.  There, we ran into Firdaus and Josephina in the lobby where we spent about ninety minutes bringing each other up to date on our experiences that day and planning for tomorrow.  We went to bed about 11PM to be ready for another long day in the morning.

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