One-and-a-half hours north of Bluefields by panga (assuming a good-sized engine and few passengers), through lagoons and inlets and narrow riverways winding through jungle, past a sunken, rusted-out, and seemingly misplaced freighter, across Pearl Lagoon, is the small fishing community of Kahkabila. Predominantly Creole and Miskitu (the latter pronounced like the insect), Kahkabila consists of about fifty or sixty houses spaced inside a square mile of cleared land, palm trees, and dirt paths near the water.
Coconuts and bread fruit fall freely, cows and roosters and dogs move about uninhibited, and the only fencing one will see surrounds the few government-sponsored constructions (two schools, and a small health center). Monthly household incomes range between 500 to 5,000 cords, or about US $25-250, depending upon the lobsters. Prominent concerns are water quality, nutrition, malaria (a few recent cases), and education. Although a few families have diesel generators for basic lighting, radios, cooking, etc., the only electricity for most comes from the two bE hybrid systems (currently powering the health center, schools, and cell phone recharging). Formal education doesn't go beyond grade six.
People are, on the whole, kind and happy here.
Our central role within bE will relate to the two system installations in Kahkabila. The current plan is for us to reside in the community for about two months starting in late January or early February, after the holiday passes and there’s adequate time to properly research and organize the visit. We completed an initial four-day visit shortly after we arrived in Nicaragua in early December, during which we helped finish installing the power lines to the primary school and participated in an operator training course regarding turbine and battery maintenance. Even with the chiggers and bucket showers eagerly awaiting our return, we can’t wait to go back.