The Guateca experience has opened my eyes to a whole new way of analyzing situations, and making better decisions for myself, the environment, and the people around me. In particular, Pete's Energy class has made me very aware of the energies that I consume, where they came from, and all of the costs associated with them. Upon arriving back in San Luis Obispo, I have found so many potential changes that I want to make with my current lifestyle, especially regarding energy efficiency.
Perhaps the most obvious change so far at my house has been the installation of a composting toilet. Estimating an average of 4 toilet flushes a day (for my house of 4), the use of our composting toilet will prevent the use of over 2,000 gallons of potable water per year. This same volume will also be reduced from the normal load on the waste water treatment plant!
More exciting than my composting toilet though is the installation of Smart Meters in San Luis Obispo. Before Guateca, I would not have been excited about this. But now, I have the ability to explain to my housemates and neighbors (over cocktails, of course) what this means in terms of real time pricing, and the savings that will be realized from this change.
I also became inspired to purchase a Kill a Watt (watt meter) and begin an energy analysis of my house in order to increase efficiency and understand how much power everything uses. The Kill a Watt hooked up to our refrigerator:
I purchased an LED light to test out in my room and I am so satisfied with it that I plan on retrofitting the whole house with LED lighting in the coming month. A shocking discovery I made was finding a 60 watt incandescent bulb inside my refrigerator! Who decided to put a heater inside my fridge?!
With the experience I gained being in the water heating group, I have started construction on a solar water heater for my house. The first day I was able to heat 5 gallons of cold water to luke warm. To improve, I want to install a couple more reflectors and a mini greenhouse over the tank to reduce wind cooling.
And as a way to reduce the use of natural gas to heat water for cooking, I now place a pot of water outside every morning with some mirrors pointed at it. Its so easy to save our resources!
Guateca has inspired me to change my lifestyle. I now know the technical reasons of why each technology or method is superior than the conventional ways. I love having friends over and answering their questions about the technologies and holding great discussions on what I now see as one of the huge problems of my lifetime: Energy.
Post Guateca, I look at how the appropriate technologies we developed, and the ideas we discussed, are all so great, and often so simple. I now look in the mirror and am trying to apply these methods to my life as well.
Everything is going very well still! I went to Tacana (a nearby city) today and it was really fun. I went with Rory, Dayton, and Alvaro. We bought tons of supplies for the projects and had delicious food. We ate snow cones but instead of having flavoring from a bottle, they put fresh fruit on top of the ice shavings and the fruit juice dripped down. It was amazing!
Also, as a note to Grandpa Duncan, we have been talking a lot about possibly visiting Tikal and my friend was doing research and found this article http://www.smithsonianmag.com/history-archaeology/El-Mirador-the-Lost-City-of-the-Maya.html?c=y&page=3 (copy and paste) about Mirador. I told him about all the stuff you had said at dinner after the symphony concert.
There is another blog for the whole group www.guateca2011.blogspot.com. This one has pictures and more general info about the projects that you can check out if you'd like.
Tekuru is asleep, in the other bed. The neighborhood rock band is blasting out "La Bamba" in electric instruments out the back at a distance that makes the volume pleasant. 10:00 PM and they just got started serenading. I had a cup of coffee this morning. My understanding was that there was no caffeine in the coffee here... I drank it last year. Today, I was wrong.... it almost killed Emily me this morning. I was shaking and decided to run up the mountainside to reboot. That was a good idea, but at 10,000', I hacked for the rest of the day.
Ly-Lan arrived 2 hours ago and had dinner with Tekuru. It was a relief. The last weeks, days, hours and last minutes before we left SLO were difficult between us in the fray as Tekuru, the students, and I got ready to leave. In any case, we both seem to be in a different space now, and I’m thankful.
I'm thankful that Jamie is better. She's been very sick and spent about 3 days in bed with what I was beginning to think was Typhoid.
The students are amazing and inspiring. I am doing my best to teach energy in Spanish to students who didn't until yesterday understand exponents. At one point during lecture, Brian stood up in front of me and stated squarely that half my students didn't understand the lecture - and that likely all the San Pablo students didn't. Feeling conflict, I responded that I was going to finish the lecture nonetheless. Afterwards, Brian expressed concern that half the students didn't understand the material and wanted to know what I was going to do about it. I told him that half the students DID understand the material and he had 3 hours in front of him while I was in Tacana opening up a bank account. I returned in the evening to find a chaotic swarm of learning. On one side of the room, Brian was at the whiteboard with a cocoon of Guatemalan students around him gesticulating passionately. Afterwards, he excitedly reported all the energy and physics material he'd covered with them. The other students, especially Wendy expressed excitement with their accomplishment. I shook Brian’s hand and told him that my incompetence had made him a God. Today, I just couldn’t explain the full graph of earth energy flows. When I’m fatigued, my Spanish is the first to go. It was slow and tedious, and I felt empathy for the students’ struggle. I gave up and finished in English. Cami speaks lovely Spanish, and she happily picked up after class with the San Pablo students, and am grateful for her help.
All our students are helping in the local school several hours a week with everything from English to Physics to Dance.
Tekuru is a constant source of joy and inspiration. This is not their summer, so Tekuru is going to school with 29 second graders including Maitay who we live with. She has a school uniform that Joni’s mother made for her and has been teaching English. I noticed that Maitay's notebook had notes taken from lessons that Tekuru gave. The girls put stickems all over the house labeling everything with English and Spanish words. One note on the bathroom door says “bano = kitchen”, and confused poor Jamie in her fevered haze… we laughed ourselves sick. Tekuru found a large toad and scooped it up. All the girls fled, and the boys ran in from the soccer field to see it as she basked in the attention.
I’m grateful for the company and insight of Toby, the Ag specialist we snagged in the eleventh hour. He is learning ferociously about every aspect of the language, life, land and culture, weaving his way into the social fabric of the community.
So, I look around in amazement at what we’ve created by leaving a space, allowing the ambient flow in. As with parenting, I am haunted by the glaring incompetence of my every action. Then I see the result and recognize glorious success. I feel daunting responsibility, but then am aware that I am not responsible for the outcome. I am only here. And I am grateful to be here.
Roman took Rory, Sean, Brian, Tom, Toby, Carl, and Andrew on a hike up the San Pablo mountainside to take a tour of his organic farm. Roman grows corn, potatoes, cauliflower, cilantro, and many more plants. Here are some photos form his farm:
Roman also showed us one of the five natural springs that supply San Pablo with water:
Los Guatequeros de Cal Poly llegamos en San Pablo finalmente! Los Guatequeros llegara manana y nosotros estamos muy emocionado. Aqui hay fotos de las dias pasadas. Saco en Cal Poly, Casa Pete, LAX, Guatemala, Xela, en el bus, y en San Pablo.
Today was the first day of orientation for the Cal Poly students! We covered what to pack, which NGO's need contacting, group organization, immunization and medical needs, and much more. We also had a lecture and activity with David Gillette, a Cal Poly LAES instructor, on keeping journals and making note of the rituals of our daily lives, and the lives of our surrounding people.
Also, we had a potluck at Pete's house which I could not attend :( and we decided to set up a Guateca Blog of which you are reading the first post! Enjoy!