So, this is the countryside!
Thursday around dawn we headed with some Energética-staff, volunteers and a small film-crew in two jeeps to the remote mountain areas north of Cochabamba. It was planned to install one new solar panel, grab video material for a film about installing and maintaining solar panels in the rural areas and “remind” 3 costumers that they are behind with their payments and (if they wouldn’t pay until a given date) that we would return to take back the solar panel.
It s rather difficult to describe the tour, because all in all it was one hell of a trip! Having a picnic on 4000 m altitude, driving on roads which are nothing much than small stripes of sand next to steep slopes, sleeping on alpaca and lama fur in a village somewhere in the middle of freezing nowhere (some oranges which we left in the cars were actually frozen the next morning), seeing condors flying by and running around a village at night to search for the guy who owes money (which he actually has but just “forgot” about paying). I guess the photos are a a better way to describe it than a long and boring text.
The latter (about paying) might seem quite hard if you think of poor peasants not being able to pay the debt they have because of buying a solar panel, but first of all the little percentage of people not paying at time (this year 24 out of 860) normally pay after being “reminded” because they do have to money and just don’t care about paying until somebody shows up and says that he ll take away the solar panel, and secondly, if the people didnt’t have to pay a certain amount of money, they just would not appreciate the panel and take it as granted (same thing that happened with loads and loads of similar development-aid-projects when they came for free). In the end, all of the 3 debtors told us that they were just about to go to Cochabamba this weekend and some more excuses, but we didn’t remove any panel, because they agreed on paying until the end of next week.
Apart of helping with all the work-related things and seeing somewhat how the project works in reality, the trip was the best occasion to get a free off-the-beaten-track-experience which definitely cannot be find in any loney planet. we even drove through the misicuni-valley, which is going to be flooded within two years with a dam to provide cochabambas water supply, so if you ever wanted to see how an artificial lake looks on the ground, this is the place to go!
Anyways, I ll leave you with the pictures, walk a bit through the city and see where I can find an almuerzo completo (yes Gian, COMPLETO) for about 12 bolivianos (1,20 €)…