Day 5, Ecuador 2020

¡Buenas dias de Puna Island! ¡Me llamo Abby Iuorio, y voy a escribir el blog hoy! He practicando mi español en este viaje.

Good morning from Puna Island! My name is Abby Iuorio, and I am going to write the blog today! I have practiced my Spanish in this trip. (I didn’t use google translate, so I hope that’s right.)

Today is our last day on the island before we return to the city. They say if you love something, let it go, and this last day on puna island has reminded me of why this saying rings so true. It was a shock to arrive at an island without consistent water, Internet, or air conditioning, and I often wished I was at home, cuddled up in my bed in my apartment. But now, as I’m about to leave, I’m getting sentimental. These people have been so kind to us. I hope to savor this last day.

We woke up tired, as we have every day, but ready to work hard. Returning back to the plant, we got to work. My biggest job was to walk around and survey the community about their water and how they use it. With the sun beating on our backs, we began our journey. In total, we talked to 4 homes, and received a wide variety of answers. This community was served by a well before the current plant started operation, and many drank this water even though it wasn’t treated. Even though their water is now better, no one drinks it anymore because they don’t think they can. Problems in the distribution system have given the water occasional sediments and discoloration and lost the residents trust. They’re wary of the new system, so they spend lots of money and waste plastic buying bottled water. The conversations reaffirmed my conviction that this community needs a better solution. We continued testing water in the afternoon and evening, even collecting samples from the homes to test for differences.

After we were done testing, it was time to go to our last night dinner with Mercedes, the woman who had been cooking for us, and her whole family. When we walked into the home, we were greeted with balloons and streamers all over. They had prepared for a party, and it warmed my heart. Just when I thought it couldn’t get better, Mercedes put down a beautiful homemade cake. We had a delicious meal with rice and shrimp, complete with dragonfruit, candies, and delicious cake. The kids finally got the courage to talk to us, and I used my broken Spanish to become friends with Mercedes’ sister. She is 16 and just graduated high school, and she’s planning on going to university in Guayaquil to become a doctor. There are so many people on this island with such bright ideas and dreams, and they just need the resources to achieve them.

We exchanged gifts and appreciation all night long. We wanted to sing a song, but it wasn’t actually anyone’s birthday, so we sang “Baby” by a Justin Bieber to them. As we finished cake, we stayed late taking pictures and swapping WhatsApp contact info. I could barely speak to these people, but they left such an imprint on my heart. I left that house with a big smile. It was honestly the best party I’ve ever been to.

– Abby Iuorio