ECUADOR INTERIM REPORT
A Just a Drop project approved by the Scientific Exploration Society and supported by ITT - 8-18th December 2009
Once again the project has proved challenging!
Drove through night 10/11/Dec to Shell Mera (South of Quito) to load water supply stores on Ecuadorian Army MI-17 ( Russian) giant helicopter. Plan was to put pipes, pump and filters inside and undersling the 5,000 litre tank.
The HOPE foundation with whom we are working in the ChikianEntza task had reduced their numbers from 11 to 4 thus the only had a doctor, an engineer and two carpenters. However this was sufficient. We also had three engineers from our contractors AGROCONSULTORES plus Yoli and myself.
Alas helicopter developed a serious electrical fault and thus our water supply team could not fly in until 14th, leaving very little time to complete tasks. HOPE Foundation team hired a local light plane and flew ahead to ChikianEntza, but our water team drove 300 kms North to Cofan village of Sinangoe to complete the task there. Originally this was to be done at end of stay. Driving through mountain and jungle reached Sinangoe at 17:00 on 11th . As darkness was closing in decided to delay crossing the fast flowing Aguarico river until the next day. During night heavy tropical storm struck and flooded camp. Rain continued until 10:00 hours but we managed to cross river by wading and using Cofan canoe.
People welcomed us warmly and work completed on water system by dusk. Day ended with tribal dancing before we recrossed river, packed sodden camp and drove east to recce possible future project for Just a Drop at Cofan village of Dureno.
Returned to Shell Mera on 14th by road and after prolonged repairs in Quito the giant helicopter was pronounced airworthy. However weather delayed us further and it was not until 16:00 hours that the aircraft arrived from Quito. We packed every inch with stores and the water team. Flew low over dense cloud shrouded forest to touch down at ChikianEntza at 17:45. Ashuar Indians rushed out to unload.
Helicopter aimed to return at dawn with tank, valves, cement and more water pipe. Sadly the great beast developed problems in the tail rotor. This cannot be solved quickly and so we set to with the Ashuar to build a 20 feet water tower of local hard wood and lay out pipes in 400 meters of trench. Rain fell in torrents but now all should be ready when helicopter can bring in the last load.
Exchanged gifts with Ashuar but declined box of fat guinea pigs, harpoon and spears in favour of necklaces! In return we gave school books to all the children.
Ashuar said we were the first foreigners to give aid to them.
Ecuadorian Army most helpful and sent in light aircraft to fly out our rather muddy group.
Drove back over mountains to Quito and set up a plan for return of the excellent AGROCONSULTORES engineers to fit tank once it is lifted to village. This will be probably be in a month.
21 December 2009