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January 5, 2012

Lahar Day with Patricio Ramon

Tuesday was a purely organizational day, trying to get my feet under my and my mind around the project and the place, and this morning was more of the same with things starting to feel like they were coming together. I was just about to move rooms to a single so I'd have my own space, be able to spread out a bit, be able to sequester myself away from transients to be able to concentrate, and then to go find something to eat and then go start finding things and people when Patricio Ramon called from the observatory to say there were lahars last night and he was going to go to Palictahua on the other side of the volcano to check it out and did I want to come. Yes. Yes, as a matter of fact, I did. So my plans changed. I gave up the single room, which was a good call because it was stuffy and humid and dark and dank and the dorm room ended up working out quite well. I also gave up eating lunch, which is just how it goes sometimes. Actually, it's how it went most of my stay, for whatever reason. Weird for me, I know.

I was psyched about this day for a number of reasons. I wanted to get more shots of this road, since it's an important element in the story, and last time I was in Ecuador it was impassible because lahars had washed it out in four or five places. Whether to restore the road to its former paved self and what traffic to allow on the road have been hot topics at various times. A better road means more traffic means higher risk of having people in the wrong places at the wrong times. No road at all means the people who farm this area have to move their produce by foot or on horseback or burros.

I also needed to get to the south side of the volcano to get some more shots there and to talk again with one senor Jorge Totoy who had told me two years ago how he had adapted his farming practices to better withstand ashfall. I was lacking enough photos of his land to illustrate his points.

Jorge is amazing. Smart, engaged, upbeat. We almost didn't find him, because we were knocking on the wrong door and our cell phones had no service. Fortunately, his son popped up at just the right moment, and not only was Jorge there, but he was willing to head up to his land with us. And Patricio was willing to take the time to go there as well. I love it, love it love it when my work is easy like that. Thanks Patricio and Jorge.

Posted by beth at January 5, 2012 10:23 PM

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