Saturday, July 12, 2008

Clean water for Todos

Today I took my final samples at the Rio Santa in central Huaraz. There are at least a million users of the Rio Santa... with 200,000 of them in the upper basin, which includes Huaraz. This river flows from the Andes down to the Lima coast and is used for bathing, laundry, and agriculture. Our group is sampling the upper reaches of this river and characterizing glacial and groundwater contributions as well as surveying people about their water use and needs. (Specifically, I am researching the metal chemistry of the river including both natural and mine runoff.)
Pictured is something red discharging into the main channel, women doing laundry at a river water station, clothes drying on the bank opposite of my final samples, a kid looking for metal to recycle on the bank, two children and a dog near the river, and my pH and conductivity meters, resting near a bag of toilet paper and a dead pig. I did not see the bloated flush until I started sampling and nearly fell into the water in surprise. Sarah Wright watched me from the bank as I wobbled precariously and clutched my stomach in horror.

The kids made me especially sad. Not knowing what to do, I smiled as earnestly as I could and handed the oldest boy the only candy bar in my bag. He took one small bite and gave the rest to his wide-eyed younger brother. While I sampled, women on the opposite bank stripped down to their underlayers. They vigorously lathered themselves in the same water that flowed through heaps of human and animal waste. I am testing the quality of this water. But this is not enough.

Friday, July 11, 2008

I still haven't eaten a guinea pig

Yesterday we got special permission to head to Pasto Ruri, a National Park that has been shut down for a variety of political reasons. There, you used to be able to ski down the glaciers, but now, there is little to shoosh down.

Anyway, I am very tired and my nose is nearly touching the keypad. In the last 5 days I have hiked over 8 hours a day on average and I am eating everything in site. (Altitude has not diminished my appetite. We have yet to venture into restaurants serving guinea pigs yet, so I am still limited in my culinary adventures). Pictured is Sarah Wright, who will stay after most of us leave to conduct a tourism study for her Master's Thesis. She helped me sample yesterday and is very upbeat even under strenuous conditions. Also pictured are Adam, Paul, Allyson, and Kyung who are the Lidar/GIS/GPS/Survey team on this mission. (Behind them is the shrinking Pasto Ruri). The last pictures are from today, Jeff, Sara Knox and I woke up at 5 and headed back to Llanganuco to sample tributaries from two headwater lakes.

I'll write more tomorrow about what we're doing... after I hydrate and eat a few plates of food.

Wednesday, July 09, 2008

Indecent Exposure

I'm working on rehydrating after a few full days of hiking, climbing, and sampling in Quilcayhuanca. We're inside the California Cafe having second breakfast. The main entrance mostly blocked by a metal garage door to prevent stray rocks from pummeling us. (Most strikers are not violent, but some are, and they throw things). Sarah Wright (see Peace and Skittles Link) had to duck (or rather, was pushed to the floor by the guy she was interviewing at the Statistics
Office yesterday). Many businesses are still open, but in a covert steel covered sense. The fresh "communista" graffiti and eerily quiet streets. (It is usually bustling at all hours).

Here's a picture of me on our hike down from Yanamarey Glacier- my zipper broke and the duck tape solution finally blew out. It is pretty indecent for Peru, so I put on my pair of Granny pile pants by the time we caught our cab out.

Uhhh- the steel door was just pulled all of the way down because a flock of strikers are walking by. My latte sure is good....


yikes! In a tired worry, I attempted to save some of my pics to an external hard drive and deleted about 100 of my faves..lost somewhere between the hard drive and the altitude. (unfortunately many of these were of people. Staggering mountain views are great, but the crew here is amazing!). Here a few that I didn't delete from the Quilcayhuanca Valley. The first is me (with a polvo beard) at more than 5000 m. Jeff Bury, Adam French and I woke up at 4 am to get that high and made it back to camp at dusk... I also managed to get a headwater sample!) The last picture of Bryan Mark is one of a handful of people pics that survived my tired erasing.