February 27, 2003
The RAFE (Network for Agro-Forestry in Ecuador) meeting in Guayaquil went well. I met Eric in person and I made some other connections. I also received some good information on planting techniques based on the lunar calendar. I am going to do what I can to help RAFE.
They want to form a regional branch composing of three provinces including: Manabi, Los Rios and Guayas. Much of the meeting was spent talking about how to fortify this new regional scheme. I will help them by being the local networker
Before I start, just let me say that my major roadblock at the moment is getting plants to use in our re-veg projects. I am trying new avenues and always looking for new opportunities. My main holdup is acquiring transportation. Ivan has assured me that we can go to Porto Viejo in his truck. In fact, we were supposed to go a week ago. When I showed up, he told me his tires were bald and he was waiting to get them replaced. Now we enter into the slow grinding wheels of the Municipio. So, I will use Ivan’s truck if I can’t find anything else first. Yesterday, I spoke to Jacob about this. He told me I should ask Flor about renting one of her many pick-ups. This would of course take more money than going with Ivan, but may make things happen faster. Soon, I will be taking a trip to buy trees. I just don’t know exactly when it will be.
This is going very well. If only I could have started it two months earlier, we would have many good plants and trees. At the moment we have several hundred algarroba. These are the largest. We have small seedlings of Pechiche, Guayacan, Fernan Sanchez, Achiote. In all, we have around 600-700 plants in the greenhouse, and it’s growing every day. I just received more seeds from Mike. They are of a type called Aquia, and they can be planted on site or in the greenhouse. We continue to make progress. We now have five species in plastic bags with 3 more in the seedbeds.
I have not completed the planting of Pedro’s land. He wants particular trees, and this is linked to the search above. I have been in contact with Pedro, and he knows that I am looking for trees. He knows what he wants, but he doesn’t know how to find it.
The Universidad has been planted. The algarrobo and Pelo Caballo that survived the leaf-cutter ants are thriving. I now have trees and a system in place to get more when needed. Many plants in the greenhouse are ready or close to ready.
Supposedly, if I plant at a certain phase of the moon, the chance of insects bothering the trees goes down (sounds a little new-age to me, but this is the local knowledge that I acquired, and it is actually very “old-age.”) I have yet to survey the new sites.
We have been using moyuyo stakes at the university and Bosque. I will also use them at Pedro’s, but he does not want many. We are planting all this week. It just took too much time to get plants together. Now we are ready to go. I have surveyed the dairy farm. Marcello showed it to me. We will have to return to speak with the owner. I don’t know anyone else to ask about where the sites are. Marcello was just married and now on a honeymoon of sorts. He is difficult to reach because of this.
We completed planting the Universidad. I made a map of the project. Pelo Caballo, Algarrobo and Moyuyo were planted. Despite fencing, leaf cutter ants have had their way with a few of the plants. I’d say they got about 20 percent of the Pelo Caballo and Algarrobo. There is no way to stop them. They do not care about our fences. Otherwise, I consider the project a success. We have been planting and transplanting in the greenhouse. As before, this is going well, and the greenhouse gets greener every day. The next step this month is to re-vegetate Pedro’s land and survey the next few sites.
I have been making contacts (i.e., the priest) in Fanca. I have been circulating and talking to the people. Many of them have told me that they have no interest or time to participate. Many have told me that they need new buckets if they are to participate. I don’t think anyone has a bucket that is not broken or in another location. Replacement seems futile. I think we can offer ideas to the families about how to take their garbage to the bins. I don’t think providing more containers is a good solution, as they will get used elsewhere. A few people are positive and they have told me that if we put an organic-only bin on the main street in Fanca, where it intersects the street to the patio, that they can drop it off there on their way to the bus. I could also get the kids involved (who I have met at the Comedor (cafeteria)), by asking them to take organic waste on the way to school.
I have visited with the nice lady that you introduced me to. She seems to have no problem taking her waste to the bins we installed in a bag. The only problem with the bins that we installed is that the streets in Fanca are that the vast majority of citizens do not respect the division of organic and inorganic. If half of the citizens do, and the other don’t, we will never have separated compost.
I have a source for the worms, which I told you about. I will use it when the time is right. Whew! Fanca. I have been thinking about ways to do large composting programs throughout Bahia that I believe would have a much higher chance of success than Fanca. I do not want to abandon Fanca, in fact I want to help them, but they don’t want to help themselves. I called a meeting in Fanca to discuss the possible profitable uses of compost, and nobody showed up. The priest told me this is typical of Fanca, which he calls a community with no roots. He was very discouraging about my chances for success. We will see what happens with time.
Steps have been built and replaced. They are great. We have built a new trail that leads to a great view of Bahia. The plan is put a bench in this location. We have put some plants in, with more on the way. Work continues here. The park looks great. The new trail is a nice one. We would like to make a new map soon. They want to name the trails after previous volunteers.
Megan is gone and so is Chela. That leaves me here alone. I have not had much time for home improvements. The couple has arrived. They are nice, smart, have tree experience. They do nice work. Unlike Megan, they usually work the minimum hours necessary. I never ask them to do more. They are enjoying Bahia. The girl, Shannon, from Canada came back to work with us as well.
I have completed my side of the bargain with Juan Brown. I finished painting his bar. When he gets time after the grand opening tonight, he is going to build a wall and make some doors for the apartment. It should be nice. (A few days later…The new wall has been built!)