Bathrooms With Claudia & Harsh
Our day started bright and early at 8am with Rodrigo picking us up to get the correctly sized rebar. We went to the biggest “ferreteria” or tool shop in town. However, they couldn’t cut it here so we had to go to another place and wait 30 minutes for them to cut it. While we were waiting Rodrigo decided to make Harsh eat typical Bolivian food …. Again. Rodrigo’s mission is to ensure that Harsh has the best visit to Bolivia ever. So we promptly got in the car and went to eat saltenas --something like an empanada from america but in Bolivia there are three different types of empanada like things. Saltenas are baked and filled with meat or chicken they can be sweet, normal or super spicy. Empanadas are round and filled with cheese-- also baked. Tukumayas are fried and that’s essentially what makes them different. Anyways, we went to a place that sold saltenas and I got a sweet chicken one, Harsh got a spicy chicken one and Rodrigo got a normal chicken one. We also made Harsh try Mokachinchi --similar to a peach but only found in the amazon jungle according to Rodrigo. Then we exchanged American dollars to Bolivianos for Harsh and picked up the rebar. We then went to buy wood and finally got to the worksite at 11am. Time flies when you’re shopping and driving all over town!
When we got the worksite our mason Angel was already there and was upset because he didn’t know how to put the cement down. In general it has been very difficult to communicate that we are in fact building a bathroom that does not need tubing for water. But Angel is really an angel. Masons are not used to be told what to do or doing things that they do not understand, and Angel really works with us and tries to understand what we’re doing and conveys his knowledge. For example, yesterday we had built a wooden frame that was originally supposed to be for laying concrete. We were supposed to make a grid of rebar in that wooden frame and then lay the concrete on top of it. However, Angel suggested that we just lay the rebar grid on the ground because there was the natural barrier of the hole that we dug to outline where the cement had to go - this was definitely easier and avoided the massive headache that was cutting the rebar perfectly so it would fit into the wooden frame without falling and without breaking the wood.
After that we mixed cement --I (Claudia) helped, for once. Just for the record and to everyone who's reading this Harsh is literally doing all of the work for most of this, and Angel of course. Then after we poured the cement we went to eat lunch while it dried. We had lunch at 2pm --something that really stressed them out because they like to eat at 12:30pm and did start offering us food since then but we really wanted to pour the concrete before we ate. Lunch today was rice, veggies and chicken --big up from yesterday since they tried to give us cow meat which Harsh can’t eat. Also, Emiliana came by to ask me to do her son’s english homework. At first I was really confused as the sentences that she was asking me to translate because they seemed pretty morbid to be from the mind of a 12 year old. “Two girls were walking down the street. A taxi ran over both of them. One went the hospital and one died.” I later found out that he gotten these stories from a local Cochabamba newspaper. Even though I really try to get to know the people and the communities the best I can, there’s still so much I know I’m not seeing in this country.
After lunch we managed to lay a layer of bricks down and Angel dug a 60cm x 60cm 1 meter hole for the digester of the bathroom (in record time). Harsh then cut wire mesh to place over the layer of brick, followed by three layers mosquito netting. So for today Angel laid down first layer of bricks and the wire mesh. Tomorrow we have to lay down 3 more layers of brick --which Angel said he would have done by the time we arrived tomorrow -- and then put the mosquito netting and hay down. Even though Harsh had written hay down in his exhaustive list of materials, I honestly ignored it for some reason. Much like I ignored his requests for pie pans -- which we still have to find…. Anyways, I asked Rodrigo where to find hay and he said he would take us to the market tomorrow to get some, so that is comforting. We left the site at around 6pm -- it was getting dark and one of the kids at the house --Luis-- kept asking us if we were going to stay the night. Luis is 4 years old and comes home at 4:30pm everyday from pre school. He’s a really cute kid and loves pretending to help. Today I was fake helping by holding an end of the tape measure for Harsh and Luis came up and said “no I’ll do it!” He’s great, looking forward to seeing him for the next couple of days.
We took a trufi all the way home, changed and then went to go eat dinner at Akshays favorite restaurant -Palermo. It’s an italian restaurant, it was pretty good. I think a solid 6.5/10. But I feel like my other teammates would give it a 7-8 / 10. Then Rodrigo offered to take us out to get a quick city tour of Cochabamba --promising we would be back by midnight since we have to work all day tomorrow on the bathrooms. Let’s hope that actually happens or tomorrow will be rough!
Health Surveys with Akshay and Lathan
We had a little bit of trouble figuring out exactly how to get to Libertad (the barrio where we conducted the surveys), but it all ended up working out because our journey to Libertad helped us to draft the first version of our “map”. Because these communities are not recognized by the government, were recently established, and are informal settlements with unpaved roads, there are no maps that define the borders of the barrio. Since we decided to do all of our surveys in Libertad, we of course needed to know where the borders of the community lie, so we drew some rough sketches of the barrio by asking people which houses belonged to Libertad.
We completed 12 surveys today, which was lower than our initial goal of 15, but we did end up drawing a good map of the barrio.