Saturday, April 18, 2009

And... bye again.

We´re back to Kahkabila for our final four weeks. Hopefully, we´ll be catching the early commercial panga up to Pearl Lagoon tomorrow morning, and hopefully Oscar will be back from fishing at sea by then to pick us up. Drama! In any event, we´ll be available by cell.

Saturday, April 11, 2009

The Lights Arrive in Kahkabila

On March 26th, 2009, after numerous years of unfulfilled election promises regarding the extension of the electricity grid to Kahkabila, after several weeks of brush-clearing, equipment delivery (poles, bulbous transformers, by boat), intermittent visits from national electricity provider ENEL, and disagreements regarding connection fees, the streets were finally made navigable at night for the two neighborhood gringos. “The lights,” as the electrical grid is affectionately known here, have arrived in Kahkabila.

We were lucky enough to be present for the installation and early transition period, and we’ll be headed back for our final stay next weekend. There are now fifteen yellow streetlights lining the dirt paths of Kahkabila, and, while only a small handful of residents (less than 10 households out of about a hundred) have been able to front the connection fee of ~$30, in general everyone is very excited about the possibilities this opens up. We were the only ones who really needed the streetlights at night, and while predictable shifts in television watching and later bedtimes are already in motion, it's hard to find fault with the recent proliferation of homemade ice cream.

Below are pictures from the technical installation process:

Perhaps, you imagined a truck of some sort?

...or a bulldozer?

...maybe a crane?

If you did, you should know better by now.

Even Sheidy thinks you should know better by now.

Even this gentleman in a not-so-subtly juxtaposed photographic composition thinks you should know better by now.

...but he's probably thinking about something else.

He's probably thinking about baseball, or his long-buried fear of heights, or the deep satisfaction of easing the nighttime footsteps of gringos.

Monday, April 6, 2009

And... we're back. Again.

We returned from our second extended trip to Kahkabila Sunday afternoon. Despite the fact that this is Semana Santa week (such that there were no scheduled pangas heading in the direction of Bluefields; everyone's leaving for vacation), we managed to catch a quick ride back from Pearl Lagoon by a fine gentleman shouting "Bluefields, Bluefields!" He was hurrying back to pick up more passengers heading out of Bluefields. The slow boat normally takes 5+ hours. We made it in 40 minutes.

Good, quick second trip, with two major highlights: (1) two-day trip to Orinoco, Marshall Point, and Awas with a group of U.S. students studying in Granada, and (2) the arrival of lights in Kahkabila! Early reports of Daniel Ortega helicoptering in to celebrate the interconnection didn't happen yet, but possibly next time... Fingers crossed. Fancy shirt set aside.

New focus (or, partial focus for our third and final trip): we've met a couple people from FADCANIC, which is a rural development and conservation non-profit on the Atlantic coast of Nicaragua, and a very good one at that. They're donating materials for a fullish-service tourist center in Kahkabila, and they've asked us to do the community training for it. Very excited about this, as it provides closer ties between bE and FADCANIC, it's awesome for Kahkabila, and it brings together a lot of our work.

We're back online for about two weeks (four days of which will be spent in Wawachang Reserve, a nature reserve north of Orinoco, run by FADCANIC), then back to KKB for our last trip. We'll try to post some pictures and some vaguely literate tidbits.