Sunday, January 15, 2012

Visiting in the Colonia

I had been wanting to go up in the colonia to visit for quite some time now, but I had to wait for a foot injury to heal before I tackled climbing up the steep paths to reach many of the homes. When Susan asked if I wanted to go with her the other day, I decided I was ready to test the foot.

As we began our climb, we ran into Leidy and some of her family coming out of a pulperia (store). We were all excited to see her. Leidy and Concepción had gone to the mainland before Christmas, planning to stay 15 days. They were delayed in their return because Concepción did not have enough money to pay for the ferry. So we were thrilled to see that they had made it back safely. We had to climb up the steep entry to Concepción's house to welcome her home. In the photo above: Leidy, her half-sister, half-brother, Concepción and Tia. People in the colonia are always so happy to have visitors. They didn't want us to leave, but we had other places to go.

 Here's Tia and Susan climbing up one of the steep, rutted roads. Not many vehicles make it up this far.

Finally, we made it up to Julisa's house. The narrow path up here was treacherous enough, then we encountered the narrow switchback path leading up to the house. The photo doesn't really do justice to the difficulty of the climb. If you look closely, you'll see their little house peeking out from behind he banana trees on the upper left and in the upper center, Julisa and her family await us.

Part of the reason for our visit was to take a photo of the family's new water tank, seen above with Susan, Ariel, David, Charlene, Julisa and Iris. There are 11 family members living in a tiny house who until Friday had NO water. Can you imagine living in a house with no water? You may remember that water is only available every 8th day and families must fill their water tanks and any available containers with enough water to last them. The wall beside Iris is littered with empty water jugs that they had been filling somewhere and carrying up to the house. Behind Susan is the white water line that was connected the day before to the new placed water tank. Some Canadian friends of Susan's had sent money to purchase the water tank. The tank was not yet filled; they were expecting the water to be turned on later in the day.

Their tiny house is of an unusual construction for the colonia - sort of an adobe block and wire type of wall with plastic bags tucked in to help fill gaps. Their little plot of ground was quite narrow around the house with perhaps only 6-8 feet to most sides. In the photo above, they are taking up the entire width of the front "yard".  There is jungle all around them; no other houses are close by, so they have a quieter and cooler location. We did not go inside the house but wondered where they all sleep. The house didn't appear tall enough to have a loft area.

Julisa was so excited when she saw me climbing up behind Susan and Tia. She was practically jumping up and down. She gave me such a big hug and just held on for the longest time. She's such a sweet girl.  We have not yet told her that we would like to sponsor her for school. Imagine how excited she will be with that news! We will tell her as soon as we figure out where we will send her (and hopefully, the two other 7th graders who still need sponsors).

I had brought along two jars of peanut butter and left them with Julisa. With 11 mouths to feed, I'm sure they can use it.

Soon it was time to make our way down. I am not all that sure-footed, but Tia is and assisted me in the descent. And she was just wearing flip flops! She grew up backpacking in the California mountains and is as sure-footed as a mountain goat. I was so thankful for her help!

I was remembering a couple of Sundays ago when Julisa and Iris arrived at church wearing high heels! I asked if they had walked down the hill wearing them and Julisa said yes but I'm not sure she understood my question. I can't imagine that they could have worn them until they neared the bottom.

These two bikes are parked at the bottom of a very narrow, rocky path that crosses a little creek and leads up to Julisa's house. Chuck was able to drive his truck up this far and then he and Juan carried that water tank the rest of the way.
Along the way, we passed another house that was built precariously along side the creek on the steep side. It looked like one more hard rain would wash it right down the creek. The family must have thought so also for we noticed the husband and another man were clearing a spot a little higher up and farther back from the creek for another house.

Susan pointed out another steep, rocky path leading up to Norma's house, and commented on Norma climbing that path in the dark, without a flashlight or any other light source, when she comes to church on Wednesday nights. These people are hardy!

At the bottom of the hill, we found Marvin, the water man, and Susan was able to pay him to fill up the water tank. He promised to fill the tank that afternoon. I know one happy family!

1 comment:

  1. It's hard to imagine living without water! Glad they have it now.