April-May 2019 Panama trip log for Marcus

First I helped Lino Smith locate and purchase materials and equipment for incoming work team. Then Sam Parker came, and we purchased more items, went and laid the foundation for the tanks, finally Donald Norred and a few others showed up to do the final work. We went to the Kuna village of Wala in the Darien to for the install a water purification system village of 1850 people.

We stayed at the church which was about 1/3 mile from the river. Very steep embankment at river. Anytime you needed to do anything, it was a 1/3 to a ½ mile hike to the river. The women did all the washing at the river and carried the water for the family to the house.

The villagers did all the bathing and pooping in the river. Every time I crossed the river there were people squatting doing their business. No latrines dug. No holes for fecal waste. Just straight into the river.

I never really felt clean when bathing in river. This is also their drinking supply.

Five water tanks, large sand purification system, chlorination system, several water pumps, connections, fittings, etc. All transported with our F150. This was done during dry season otherwise passage would not have been possible. All supplies were delivered to entrance to Wala from Pan-American highway. I had to transport everything and everyone to village.

13 miles of rough dirt road. Problem was they were getting ready to improve the road. They were dumping large dump truck loads of uncrushed rock gravel mix onto the road. Smack dab in the middle of the road. Little to no room to go around. At some points they would push the large piles down, not smooth them out and leave sections of large rock and soft sinking sand to travel over. There were a few times I came down hard on a large rock and was suspended for a time. The panels of the truck bed are now well raised (dented)……. I keep saying that this is a work truck and appearance doesn't matter...if I say enough, I can convince myself......

Sam had borrowed the truck a few weeks prior and had torn a tire up. He replaced all the tires for this project. Thank you Sam Parker.

There were some trips I had between 3000 lbs and 3500lbs on truck. Ford F150 is rated for 1000 lbs. First part of project two trips per day starting with the day I arrived. Last part was one trip per day. Light load, no problems going fast, I could make the trip in 1 hour 15 minutes. Heavy load, really rough road - 2 hours. When Donald showed up with his crew, six large Americans, and very large amounts of additional supplies they had purchased, we had six people in cab, and two people riding on tailgate of truck with bed of truck packed. Well over 2.5 hours to cover the distance.

When we arrive at the village it was late and there was a strong chica feast going on. Everyone in town, including children was getting drunk. The church members did not participate. We were not able to cross the river and unload the truck. We had to carry everything across the river at a different location. In this process my iPad and one cell phone went into the river.

In the end there was a line running through the town where all the villagers could draw clean potable water for their household. They would still have to go to the river to bathe and wash, but would not have to carry the water for the house for large distances.

When I got back to El Cope I had to bow out of preaching because everything was on the iPad.