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Location: Redding, CA, United States

Monday, February 01, 2010

Ecuador Part 2

So, having made it through the first night and into the second day, we headed aboard a bus that took us to the South Guasmo neighborhood where the office of "Mi Cometa" are located. This center houses many projects for the community, including the Utopia Radio station, the door on the bottom left is their entrance (see the kite design). Mi Cometa means My Kite. Any way, the projects also included a music program, housing assistance, a mico-loan program for the community members that the center offers and manages.

We had a luncheon served to us by the folks and then, a musical presentation from the program children (the young man in the green shirt was the lead singer - they sang some wicked Santana).

We finished the day at the Center by walking through the neighborhood, looking at several houses that Mi Cometa had help facilitate the construction for. We saw some in first stage bare walls, open windows and doorways and then on to others that were completed, painted and shiny. I was slightly jealous because these places were cinder block buildings, attached to the foundation (although with limited re-bar) as opposed to the trailers the folks in our own village live in. I was impressed by the willingness of the folks in these areas to help themselves and although they had no real running water or sanitation, for the most part they survived and were happy to have a united community. This message was important to see and one that I will share with whomever I talk with about this trip.

We closed out the day with a visit to the Regulatory agency ECAPAG ( This agency was, in a word, slimy. They had all the answer but seemed to not truly provide regulation or oversight. The waters of Ecuador are privatized. There is raw sewage and untreated water pouring into the rivers and this regulator organ of the government was seemingly casting a blind eye at the problems, to the detriment of the population. I asked the General Director of social communication and community relations, Stalin Poveda, about the dams on the river and how they were impacting the rivers, the lack of water quality assurance and the threat of additional dams to meet the needs of the unabashed development. He neatly sidestepped the question, actually stating that the dams were now allowing for more water to flow in the river than before they were built. He also said that there was plenty of water and thy would never need more dams for supply. Curious note: 45% of the people do not have fresh water and if I remember correctly 65% or more do not have access to sanitation (like sewer or septic). I said they were slimy, I think I know what they are slimy with.

Later this week - the Guayas River Boat trip and the Isla Santay.

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