Saturday, December 27, 2008

Influencing an Affluence of Effluence?

Core elements of childhood drawings: a bright, smiling, spherical sun aloft in the corner. Softly lapping waves fill the foreground. Basic one-story constructions, featuring jagged lines and mismatched housing elements, suggesting scrap metal and driftwood. Fencing optional. The sky full of kites. Animals and humans together, smiling, standing side-by-side.

There’s a sense of utilitarianism and ease-of-use permeating most aspects of Kahkabila, from housing construction to the casual greeting (“alright”) to work schedules dependent upon currents and wind. There’s something very idyllic about a community that, while tremendously poor, disconnected, and unsuccessfully developed (and conscious of all these things), manages, on the whole, to keep disarmingly high spirits. Close families. Minimal crime.

People own the cows (and chickens, pigs, roosters, monkeys, dogs, cats, goats…), but very few own enough to warrant penning them off. Despite efforts to keep them clean, wells become contaminated due to various forms of runoff, with the effects exacerbated during the dry season. Visitors are obliged to bring their own water filters and chlorine tablets. Water-borne illnesses are a major health concern here, especially with children.

In those drawings, everyone forgets about the poop.

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