As I'm sure you've noticed, our blogging has been a little haphazard throughout the last week and a half. Although we always have excuses, this one is actually legitimate (ie: not because of travel, procrastination, or forgetfulness): The Andean region of Ecuador is in the midst of the worst drought in four decades. What does this have to do with writing the blog, you may ask? Well, when you live in a country that gets about 60% of its energy from hydroelectric power, severe droughts lead to power outages and subsequent lack of internet. At first we weren't aware of any set schedule of blackouts and would find ourselves abruptly interrupted while nuking coffee mid-morning or feeling around for toilet paper in a dark library bathroom stall. But now, thanks to some local friends, we have a website (www.eeq.com.ec) that gives us daily power outage updates, which Chet graciously e-mails out to our list-serve each evening. It looks like tomorrow's blackout will be taking place between 7 and 11p.m. which leaves us with a candle-lit family dinner and making flashlight puppets on the living room walls to entertain ourselves until bedtime.
Besides living by the moonlight, we've also been up to a few productive things since we've talked to you last. This past Saturday we participated in a very successful town meeting discussing both health and environmental topics with community members. Erik and I took the stage first, presenting our survey findings about installing public trash bins, cutting down on litter, and combating trash incineration. We were ecstatic at the enthusiastic response supporting these projects and numerous inquisitions about starting a public recycling program to raise money for the municipality. Sonia and Krysta also presented forum questions about whether a preventative health clinic would be something our community would both want and need. The lively discussion brought up concerns about topics ranging from increasing cancer victims in the community to parasitic water. The response was overwhelmingly in favor of such a facility and is a big step for our efforts to research and start our own preventative facility.
Keep on truckin,