Sunday, July 01, 2012

In which we get a taste of what can go wrong

Monday. Fish for breakfast! Yummy! We pretty much measure trees all day. Evidently Bolivians don’t believe in fancy tools to measure height so everything is guesstimated. I don’t doubt their accuracy to the half meter but I wonder how those other missing decimals will skew our results. Mid-day A has to leave for another job to come back on Wednesday so V and I continue. That evening we return to the schoolhouse to find that it is locked. We spend some time scavenging around, looking for where keys might be left but we have to head back to Dona E’s house. Not ten meters down the road we run into her husband coming home from dropping off A and it is fairly obvious that he is drunk. We try to explain the situation but are unavoidably detained and subjected to his repetition of certain facts: Air does not have borders, why should we? We are like brother and sister and he cares for me. He and his wife have 5 or 6 or 7 children, etc etc. V is of little help getting him back on track but Don B finally leaves to return with the keys at which point we are once more regaled with speeches. Development workers take note! His community is upset about the lack of continuity in project supervisors. They feel dumped! Of course they won’t cut down the trees because 1) it’s against the law (?) and 2) you can’t farm on the mountains so why would they clear them. At about 10pm (on a moonless night) Don G glides into the schoolyard in the darkness to try and rescue us. I’m not sure where he has come from or how he did it without a flashlight but he finally wrangles Don B back to his house and we are left to go to bed only to be woken up at 2am by someone else, also drunk, who wants to work with us. Ah conservation. Ah the campo.

Tuesday. On Tuesday we begin to work with Don R who is slightly deaf and perhaps not too bright and the type who instead of asking us to repeat ourselves just does what he thinks we might be saying. The other workers from the community delight in torturing him and their first act is to show him how we mark the trees, by spray painting him at breast height. The day passes remarkably unremarkably until dinner when Don V spills an entire 5 liter jug on Don R.  In the middle of the night I spend a bit more time than average in the outhouse and return to find that V is putting on his boots on the point of coming to look for me. How chivalrous!

Fall down count: 3
Bug bite count: bugs really like antibacterial gel!

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