Friday, May 4, 2012


We went to San Salvador to buy cantaros on Tuesday – the plastic (5-ish gallon) jugs that people here use to fetch water.  They are lightweight when empty – but between 40-50 pounds when full.  Usually the job of fetching water falls to the women and young girls but there are many men and boys who pitch in to do this task.  The lucky ones have horses to schlep the full jugs home – or home-made pull-carts.  The rest carry them on their shoulders/backs (the men) or on their heads (the women).  If they are lucky, they live close to their water source – be it a community water faucet that runs maybe twice a month for a few hours or a spring or an actual river.  They might have to walk 30 yards or 3 to 5 kilometers. 

Everyday tasks can take a long time and do damage to your body over time!  Say a prayer of thanks next time you turn on your faucet and you not only get water – but you can choose to make the water hot!!  And you can drink it without getting sick, too!

Anyway – I didn’t start this blog to preach at you – consider that a bonus!! Haha.

Back to the cantaros: we had hired Raúl from El Tablón to take us to San Salvador.  In the past, when we needed a large quantity of cantaros, we have gone to San Miguel.  The problem is, the pick-up truck we have only holds about 5 dozen.  And San Miguel is about an hour away – takes longer if there is no parking readily available.  We normally spend about 3 or 4 hours per trip by the time all is said and done.  And it’s about $25 worth of gas for each trip.

So when we realized that we were going to need a ton of cantaros – I suggested we call Alfredo to see if he knew of a distributor in San Salvador.  I thought it would be cheaper to pay the store to get them here.  Also thinking about the time that would be saved.   Cecilia immediately thought of the ‘little’ store from which we had purchased a lot of small bottles and containers a couple years ago for a woman’s group.  She found Roxy’s in the phone book, gave them a call, and they said they had what we needed.  They also said they were having a sale!  For every 100 you buy – you get 10 for one penny each.  Nice.  This sale ended today she said.  So we looked at each other and said – well – guess we’re going!   We quickly called our ever faithful driver (it is about 9:30 a.m. at this point) who said he could be at the house by 11:30.  Cool.  Lucky for such a last minute call!

It was 12:30 by the time he actually got here – he had been in Talpetates and had a car issue.  We did not give him grief for being late.  Life happens.  Especially in the country. 

We hopped into the cab of the big truck and off we went.  I tend to doze on long trips if I am not driving – it was not very comfortable – but – I still managed to keep up my reputation.

2 hours later we found the place.  I had only been there once – a couple of years ago – but we knew the street (and I knew the street) and we had a good idea more or less where it was.  And we found it with no problem. 

Again – I should never complain about parking.   Raúl got that monster truck into the little parking lot (a lot that has space for maybe 6 normal vehicles) without a hitch. 

They knew we were coming and had an invoice all ready for us.  And out they came.  5 cantaros tied together in bungles with plastic string (pita). 110 bundles in all!  I pulled out the camera to start taking a photo journal and very soon realized that I had left my chip in the computer after downloading the photos from the day before.  So I was camera-less.  Darn it.  I was kicking myself because the process of loading was very fun to watch.  The truck was FULL when all was loaded.  José, a friend of Raúl’s had come with us and between the two of them, they made fast work of loading and tying down.

All four of us ended up in the cab of the truck for the trip back.  It rained a little.  We had to stop a couple times to re-secure a few that seemed to be slipping from all the bouncing around.  (I say “we” but it was Raúl and José!) We made it back to Berlín by 6:15 p.m.

Then we ALL helped unload – each of us making several trips with two bundles of 5 each up to the chapel.  The chapel is now quite full.  I’m sure that God doesn’t mind.  It’s for a good cause.

The cantaros are to give the folks who are using their water filters – the project that we had a few years ago.  We’ve been re-visiting the communities and monitoring their use this past 6 months and learned that most everyone’s water jugs were either broken or just really gross.  So we decided to give each family who is actually using their filter 2 cantaros: one to capture the purified water, one to store it for use.

So what does TTP mean?  They are the initials for “To the Penny” – that was always the signal in my checkbook that I had balanced my account each month. 

At the store, when Cecilia was in line to pay – she had cash in hand.  The bill was $1,095.15.  She asked me if I had 15 cents.  I did and I gave it to the cashier. 

After we got back and the truck was unloaded – Cecilia was putting the change from the purchase back to its proper cash box.  There was change from the cantaros and change from the small snack we had bought for Raúl and José (Gatorade and pan dulce).  Then she turned to me and handed me 15 cents.  So it would be exact.

I rolled my eyes inwardly.  We’ve had this discussion before.  The Pastoral Team likes things ‘just so’ – they want accounts to be totally accurate.  They want every penny accounted for.  So knowing that I could not (and really should not) argue – I accepted my 15 cents back. 

Good stewardship of funds.  It is a GOOD thing

Raul in front of the truck

10 at a time they made it up the stairs to the chapel

Little by little the lake filled

Idalia trying to keep them from slip sliding

After a while they sort of held onto each other

Un MONTON de cantaros en la capilla!

1 comment:

rubireyes said...

The work you are doing is inspiring. You and your group are indeed a blessing to the small towns around you. And great deal on those cantoras. It isn't often that you find things on sale here!