Hurricane Stan: Pepsi Can Stove

Lit emergency alcohol stove

When Pete first heard of what was happening in Darfur, he got the idea that small alcohol stoves would be very useful in that relief effort. The stove model he was interested in was a remarkably simple design and very cheap to construct. It is basically a soda or tin can, a bit of fiberglass to retain the fuel, and some aluminum to serve as a windscreen. On a three-week hike along the Long Trail in New Hampshire, Pete used one as his sole camping stove and it proved satisfyingly efficient.

Continue reading

Hurricane Stan: Guns, Germs and Steal

Xela skies are normally silent as nothing goes on at the nearby airport. The sounds overhead then are really comforting as it means that army helicopters are bringing in supplies to people in need. Many people still haven’t been reached yet as their areas continue to be inaccessible.

Pete just called. Casa Babylon (one of the pricier and tastier restaurants near Parque Central) and Pops Heladeria got robbed at gunpoint last night. Makes me miss the vigilantes.

Xela Teco wins bid for small-scale micro-hydro project

Peter and Javier discussing the micro-hydroelectric project Macadamias are one of the cash crops grown at the finca. View at the Finca

Matt and Javier have managed to make it down from the Finca. Two bridges near Quatro Caminos Reis were underwater until recently.

A bit of good news amongst all this pain: Xela Teco won the bid for doing a UN funded small-scale micro-hydroelectric project at Finca Nueva Alianza. We’re ecstatic. A proper press release will follow.

Also Mario, Eric Jr and Eric Sr. went up in a helicopter today to do some GPS surveys with the military. See the AIDG.net gallery for pictures.

Hurricane Stan: San Marcos

Damaged section of road between Xela and San Marcos

Megan’s not coming. It’s just not feasible.

We ran in Leila at Celas Maya yesterday and she told us that her NGO Fundap was going to do a survey of damage in some of the communities they work with on Monday. I accompanied them with camera and video camera to aid in documentation of the damage.

Continue reading

Hurricane Stan: Travels and Travails

Talked to Megan. She is postponing until Monday, but we are still unsure if she will be able to make it here by road.

Candido and his family are safe. Some of the guys at Xela Teco are really struggling though. A few of them are currently the sole breadwinner for their family as the storm decimated fields and put many agricultural workers out of work. Hopefully, the new string of donations we received should allow us to make payday come quite a bit earlier. It’s nice to be in a place where you always can do good by your workers.

Hurricane Stan: Back at Work

Still nothing from Candido. We know the area where he lives was badly affected. Still no power in most of Xela in the morning, but for some reason the lights are on in the shop.

Most of folks manage to make it in. Jose is still unable to complete the journey.

Oh goodness, I’ve just gotten an email that Megan (awesome first-year intern at MGH) is meant to be coming tomorrow. I haven’t a clue how she is going to get in from Guate.

Hurricane Stan: Communications

I have to say that I am very glad that I switched over to Cingular before leaving Boston. Having a quad band GSM phone has been very useful. I just pop out my SIM chip and exchange it for one from here that costs $15, and boom I have a working cell phone in Guatemala. Calls to the states on Tigo are just 10 cents a minute.

The rain however has affected our ability to make international calls. We’ve been able to get through for a few seconds at a time, just enough to say “hey, we’re okay”.

Continue reading