Yesterday, I made the three-hour trek out to Palmera Xolhuitz, a coffee and plantain cooperative located on the steamy west slope of Guatemala. I’ve been visiting Palmera Xolhuitz since my arrival in Xela in September 2007; this was my third visit to the community and my first during the busy cosecha (coffee harvest).
A watershed near the community was chosen as a potential site for hydraulic ram pump earlier this year. Ram pumps are elegantly simple devices that use the energy of falling water to pump water to a higher elevation. They can pump water efficiently up to 100 meters, require no electricity and little to no maintenance. I’ve been conducting an investigation of the Palmera Xolhuitz site to determine whether our pilot pump will be able to deliver water to the community throughout the year.
Roughly 1 km upstream from the Palmera Xolhuitz community, springs in the ‘candelaria’ watershed ooze crystalline waters that are filtered through volcanic soils. The watershed is surrounded by virgin forests with coffee plantations scattered in the shade of larger trees. Its remoteness has insured that the water is agua pura. Numerous waterfalls make the site an ideal ram pump location. Palmera’s location, 20 meters above the watershed and absence of electricity where the pump will need to be installed make a ram pump a great solution for the community’s needs.
Yesterday, I had the pleasure of celebrating the cooperative’s 4th birthday over a meal of pollo rostizado, platanos rellonos y arroz. After the delicious meal we finalized plans with the community for the pump installation. Barring any drastic changes in water levels we will be returning to Palmera Xolhuitz after the cosecha to lead the community in the install.