Monday, July 9, 2012

Voodoo falls.

The old man leading the group hunches low and whispers, "that waterfall has voodoo magic."  The voodoo faithful from far and wide come to visit. Even wealthy Haitians dedicated to the craft have been known to land a helicopter in the area for a day trip to partake in the magical powers.  I just grin and keep walking but the old man isn't smiling.

Yesterday morning we hiked out 4 miles to the spring for the Hinche water supply and surveyed most of the way back.  It was a scorching hot day.  I forgot to wear my sandals so the guys started carrying me across the rivers.  But after the first fall I gave up and just plodded through.  So on top of crazy sun burn and a need to ration my meager supply of water among 6 guys I was also walking in soggy shoes all day.  We worked 5 AM until 5 PM in the field and arrived home just in time to miss a downpour.  After all it is the middle of rainy season.

This morning we completed our survey by 9 AM, a total of 5 miles in less than a day and a half.  I am finally confident Raynold has mastered the skills to survey by himself with either the abney or dumpy levels.  I've worked hard for the past 2 years to teach him this skill.  With it he can do the field survey, send me the data and I can send him the design of the water system.  That is until he learns to design them himself. 

Today we toured our construction site, about 10 kilometers of streets within the city of Hinche.  The road contractor has already built most of the drainage canals beneath the roads.  We spent much of the day figuring how we plan to navigate them with the fewest number of crossings.  At one point Raynold asked, don't they have some kind of tool that we can just push the pipe under the canal?  I said yes, it's called a directional boring machine and likely costs at least $30-50,000.  To which he replied, "No, we are in Haiti, we cannot do that."  I hope someday they can.  But for now I think we'll solve the challenge with a chunk of iron, a big hammer and some poor Haitian smashing it under the canal for 10 bucks a day.

The engineer for the road construction project is a very intelligent Haitian with 15 years of experience.  He has had the courage and foresight to delay paving the roads for months now to help us out with laying our pipes.  We spent much of the day with him today coordinating our construction efforts.  At one point it was Salomon, the road engineer and Raynold, the water engineer-in-training walking down the street talking solutions.  A wave of emotion came over me at the instant when I realized that here are two intelligent Haitians with incredible initiative building their own dang country.  It feels great to be a part of this.  I'm sure there will be many frustrations along the way but today was one of those days I try not to forget.  Days like today are the reason I am where I am today.


  1. If Raynold sets the level a little higher, he should have a more comfortable time reading the numbers on the rod, the less bending over the better. Just a tip from an old surveyor!


  2. Dave, keep up the blog posting. This is a good read and I enjoy hearing about Haitians doing the work.