September News from Judy


The following is a report excerpted from letters by Judy Goldhaft that may be the closest we get to the usual Dispatch before leaving early Wednesday morning.

 P & J

Bahia de Caraquez, Ecuador

Subject: News from Ecuador 9/12/07

Yesterday Ecuador’s President Correa  came down to do a presentation of some federal funding and a ribbon -cutting ceremony for a new bridge that will cross the bay here. We had received several suggestions about when the ceremony would be ranging from 3:30 in the afternoon (officially) to 6PM. The invitation that was sent to Peter said to come at 3:30. We decided to leave our apartment at 3:15, silly us. It took about 15 minutes to get to the staging area. When we arrived they were still setting up the lighting for the event. But we met with friends and chatted and got seats in the large field in front of the stage. The school bands arrived and set up and the military band arrived and played a little too.

There were lots of kids from various local schools. We chatted and waited and more and more people arrived. Drum and bugle corps arrived and played in the field with baton twirling girls. We waited and waited. It got to be 4 o’clock, 5 o’clock. We decided that the people who said it would begin at 6PM were right. Then some of the school kids left. We were lucky to have chairs, I can tell you!  We nodded a little and waited some more. Occasionally people would look in some direction saying, “Isn’t that a helicopter arriving?”  The seats up front for the “dignitaries” were full, all the seats were full, many people were behind the seats milling around. The crowd was getting tired. The sun went down. Finally they showed a film about the army corps of engineers (who will be building the bridge) and how wonderful they were and what great projects they had done. Still we waited. At about 7:30 the military band began to play, fireworks went off, and the president arrived.

There were speeches from the local mayors, thank-you’s to many people, documents were signed, and the president made a speech. Periodically fireworks went off overhead that were lovely. They cut the ribbon and then we left. It was hard to leave because the entry point was being guarded by the military. They seemed to help out, but funneling a large group of people through the entry included a lot of pushing and squishing. Some of our group stayed for the fiesta that continued after the ceremonies. They said that the mayor of Bahia sang several songs and that the president also sang one with him that was about Che Guevara.

This afternoon we will meet with the mayor of Bahia. We have met with many people who have ideas about works we can do here. 

P.S. Just in. Today’s gossip is that the Mayor got in a fist fight after the ceremony last night with someone who wants a city job presently held by his brother. We think that this is somehow fall-out from the bridge project.


Yesterday morning Peter gave a talk to school kids in the Municipal Theater with a slide show that had photos of Bahia. After the talk we gave out graduation certificates to the kids who had finished a three-month twice-a-week after-school bioregional education program that Planet Drum arranged. It was with a local teacher and the certificates were signed by Peter, Ramon (the teacher), Clay (the manager of the Bahia Planet Drum Project) and the mayor. We were afraid the mayor was never going to sign them because he has been out of town most of the week. But yesterday morning he returned just in time.

It takes a long time to accomplish anything in Bahia. This is both good and bad. It’s bad because you have to keep worrying that it won’t ever get done and stays on one’s “to-do list” for what seems to be forever. On the other hand since you have a lot of waiting around time, you can just relax and enjoy the warm weather, go to the beach, etc.

For example, Peter has been trying to obtain access for a road onto the land that he bought two years ago to be for a Planet Drum Institute. When we arrived he began meeting with the adjacent landowner again (a continuation of unsucessful meetings from the last time Peter was here in February). Finally earlier this week a lawyer began writing up a Right of Way agreement, and now all that has to happen is for the landowner and Peter to meet with the lawyer and a notary and sign the papers. It was supposed to happen this morning, but has been postponed until Monday morning at 9AM!  Will it happen before we leave at 7AM Wednesday morning????? I’ll let you know. { Ed. Note: The landowner failed to agree to terms…again!}

In the meantime Peter and I are going to spend the weekend visiting a colleague’s farm about an hour north of Bahia on Saturday and then another friend’s land where there is a natural area with many native plants and also wild howler monkeys on Sunday. So we will forget about land business until Monday morning. This is an unusual opportunity to visit parts of Ecuador that are outside of Bahia which is fairly rare for us.

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