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1st Work Day in Aapchour

Day 5 - After a solid 6 hours sleep we got ready and met in the dining area of the hotel for breakfast at 6:30AM. The driver (Ramesh) had just arrived. We talked about the plan for the day, had a great breakfast and then headed out. We made it to the center of Kabilash in just 2hr 15min with just a quick stop to pick up Lakha. We stopped at the ex-mayor's house to pickup him and his son and the pump. His wife brought us warm milk - a traditional breakfast drink. We only stayed for a short visit and then headed out to cover the last 1.25 mile to Aapchour. It was the roughest drive so far. We drove down into the river bed and started driving in the muddy rocky trail. We actually had to stop and ask a backhoe to stop excavation and fill in a trench for us so we could make it across the river bed. We drove over rocks, through water that was 12 inches deep and over muddy parts we didn't think we weren't sure we could make. It took about 30 minutes and we were driving up the hill into Aapchour. The village is larger than Kabilash village. There was construction underway of what appeared to be brick housing units. A a school stood in the middle of the village surrounded by a collection of houses, shops and cattle pens. We got out and were greeted by one of the village leaders. He took us into a school room where we had a meeting. It was very hot and the room had about 15 people in it. We discussed our project, our approach and then we discussed the ongoing construction. After about a 30 minute discussion we went outside to investigate 3 water sources they wanted us to consider. We walked along the dividing paths between the rice terraces, along narrow trails and we walked along a drainage culvert until we arrived at the first water source. 1. A small pipe flowing at about 3 liters per minute. It didn't have enough flow to meet our needs. Source 2 was a small trickle right down by the river. While we looked it over two little girls arrived with pails to fetch water from the source. Unfortunately it wasn't suitable for our project. The 3rd source was just right. It was a pipe about 6 feet above the river, flowing at about 2 gallons per minute. We then walked up to the tribal leaders house to discuss the project. That's when the real work began.
It was like watching a session of congress. They a didn't argue but the discussion was tense. Madhov translated for us so we could follow along. After the 2015 earthquake the village split in half. Half of the people rebuilt in the same location and the other half moved further down the hill, closer to a better water source. We were invited by the half that stayed and re-built. There are about 700 people in this area. they are a larger group and have a more developed location. The other half are a smaller group, about 170 people, less developed and in more need of help. And so the negotiations began. We watched for about 2 hours. In the mean time the wife of the lower village leader was splitting dried reeds and we finally asked about what she was doing. That disruption made everyone stop the negotiation and they all wanted to demonstrate how to make Napali paper plates. The woman was splitting the reeds to stitch together leaves to make Nepali paper plates. Some of the men ran outside to gather more leaves and some sat on the floor and started stitching leaves together to make large and small plates. One man even made their version of a beer mug. It was a great diversion as they all laughed and acted like happy little kids. Maybe our congress should take an ice cream break once in a while like that. Anyways, after the brake the negotiations continued. Madhov, Rick and a few other men decided to go outside and walk up to the school to scout out locations where the water would be delivered at the top of the hill. They were gone for about 2 hours while Cordella stayed in the home and watched the negotiations. When they returned the talks were still going on. It seemed we were getting close to a compromise so the wife prepared fresh lemon grass tea which was delicious. As the talks dies out we went outside to look at two locations in the lower village where the leader said he would donate property to install a shallow well to create a new water source - a slight change to our plans but it could work. Both sites looked promising. The other man was worried his part of the village would not agree to this because the lower village would have more control over the water. The other man from the upper village also had nothing to offer in exchange. the talks ended at the site. We took pictures of our group and then started walking to the upper village where had parked our car. We started saying our goodbyes and soon left knowing we had to traverse the riverbed again going back. Having learned the best places to drive in the river, our driver had a much easier time going back. We dropped off the ex-mayor of Kabilash and headed back to Kathmandu. Along the drive we stopped at the same location as yesterday, had a beer, watched the sunset over the mountains, flew the drone a bit over a Buddhist temple in the area and then continued our drive. We stopped for dinner at Lakha's house again and then made it back to the hotel by 10PM. What a day - not exactly what we had planned but we felt we made progress. When return the next day we hope they reached a decision to everyone agrees to. We're heading back tomorrow,leaving the hotel at 6:30AM.

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UPDATED: 2017-05-31 20:25:55