Last Saturday I set off on a half-day trip to start a health-based project in one of the communities surrounding Cahuasquí, but yet is still part of Cahuasquí. The community is called Pugarán and is a one-hour truck ride, two hour horseback ride or a three hour hike. All of there times are important because I will be going the latter two very often. I spent the past two weeks or maybe even more getting things prepared for a meeting with the entire community (35 families) to explain who I was, that I work for the United States Peace Corps, what the United States Peace Corps is, and what my plan of action was for Pugarán. I had written-up a Census of sorts to explain to the community, the president of the community was working with me and was going to organize the people in Pugarán and I had already rented two horses for myself and a friend, Roberto, who was going to accompany me. Now, with everything planned ahead of time, lets see what actually happened…..
The plan was the leave on Saturday April 30 at 13:30. At noon is started to rain. Nothing can be done about that so we must push forward. Roberto and I went to get the horses at about that same time that it started to rain and the gentleman who told me that he was going to rent me two horses told me that he had already rented them for the day. Without an apology and just a blank stare I left, fairly upset. I had no idea what to do know. I was expected in Pugarán at 15:30 for the meeting and had no horses. I called my host father, who has 3 horses but are kept an hour or so hike away from where he lives, to see if by the off chance the horses where closer and I could borrow them. The horses where far away, but my former host brother was close and my host father told me he would bring the horses to me. WHAT LUCK! Although it took a while we had the two horses at around 14:00. No big deal. With some luck comes a little more and the rain broke and the sun came out. Things where starting to look up.
Roberto and I left on horse, bareback, at a little after 14:00 for the trip to Pugarán. Although the roads where terrible due to the rain and there were many remains of landslides, the trip up was a blast. We made it to Pugarán before 16:00 and were still making goodtime. We met the president of the community who told me the meeting was going to be for 16:30, before a Church Service at 17:00, a baptism. With a little time to kill we went to the president’s sister’s house to eat some fried pork. Delicious. This is when I got the news that Pugarán had been without power for the past thirty hours, therefore the president was unable to make an announcement on the loudspeaker about my meeting. Therefore, no one knew about it. Bummer.
After waiting around the community meeting hall to see if people would come, I was surprised to see that actually 8 people had come. The president of the community suggested that I do the meeting after the Baptism, but that would be at 18:30. My meeting would last half an hour so our two hour trip back to Cahuasquí would begin at 19:00 in the dark. I did not like this idea (due to the dangers of riding in the dark) so I told the president that I would return another day for the meeting. He was very sorrow, but who would have thought that the electricity would have gone out and there was going to be a Baptism the same day that I came up. BAD LUCK! I told him not to worry about it because I was planning on traveling many more times to Pugarán so one extra trip was not a problem. And besides, it’s always fun to ride a horse.
As we started our trip back all the people who I encountered were very grateful to us for coming up and one women told me that she was so happy that I was going to be doing work in here community because she felt that all the organizations, foundations and governments around the world and in Ecuador had neglected them. This made the whole trip well worth it.
We left around 17:30 and I could not ride the horse. I was very sore from the trip to Pugarán and without a saddle I was in a lot of pain. We decided to walk the horses down to the river and then ride up the Cahuasquí (it is easier and less painful to ride a horse up hill than down hill). The trip went fine walking down, a little longer than riding a horse, so when we reached the river it was dark ad there was not a light to be seen. With just the light from my cell phone, we slowly made our way back to Cahuasquí were we arrived around 20:30, around a three hour trip.
Although the trip was not successful in many ways, I find success just in my presence in the community. Showing them that I was willing to make a trip to listen to them, find out there needs, and then see what we can all do together to reach those needs meant a lot to them. Although it has a hurt a lot to site down for the past couple of days I will make the trip to Pugarán again very shortly, but this time with a saddle.