Geoff

Geoff Elliott

Geoff

Hola and welcome to the travel/monitoring blog for my February 2013 sabbatical trip to Malinguapamba (MP) in the highlands Ecuador south of Quito. The project area is in Cotopaxi Province, in the general area known as the “Cotopaxi Loop,” a popular trekking destination characterized by steep volcanic terrain, warm friendly people, and lots of chicken soup. Project coordinates are 00.82336° South and 78.86495° West at 3,300 to 3,800 meters (10,700 to 12,500 feet) elevation.

The core week of my trip was spent in and around MP (Blogs 9-20) studying local geology, ecology, and water-collection strategies for the communities of MP, Tunguiche, Pucara’, and Guantugloma. The first 3 communities have benefited from a series of education/potable water/irrigation/hygiene/erosion control projects over the last 10 years completed by local “Mingas” (community work days) in collaboration with the Centro Educativo La Minga (CELM), Engineers without Borders (EWB) Denver Professional Club, Rotary International District 5450 (Rotary), and the ERM Foundation (sorry if I missed anybody, there has been so much support).

Rotary, EWB, and CELM are gearing up to work with the Guantugloma community to the southeast in an expanded effort over the next 3 years to build on local success and replicate lessons learned in MP. I was on site between larger team efforts last October and next April, in order to monitor progress, facilitate upcoming grant proposals, and offer vocational training to local workers. Along the way I had a chance to hone my Spanish , work on a low-tech low-maintenance water-intake design, and work with CELM and kids on a watershed-focused coloring book (fun!).

In preparation for my work in MP, I took a few days in Quito to get acclimated and learn more about Ecuador’s colorful history and culture(Blogs 2-3), and spent a few days with Jean Brown + Don Marcelo including a drive along the Quilotoa to learn about ecology especially pioneering species at similar altitude/setting as MP Loop (Blogs 4-5). Spent a week in Baños for intensive Spanish lessons and some serious hiking to get into shape for the MP field area and to learn about Andean geology/ecology/agriculture (Blogs 6-7). This last part was important to tune my eye to local baseline and tune up my field techniques. Final preparation included a visit to local Rotary Club in Latacunga to cultivate that relationship(Blog 8).

After my work in MP, I took advantage of the many hiking trails to get to know more about the Quilotoa Loop from a base in Isinlivi, then trekked to Sigchos on way home (Blog 21).

All in all a wonderful trip that far exceeded my expectations – wonderful helpful people, beautiful country, and the opportunity to become fully immersed in Spanish in two Mingas: our Minga Scientifico with the Guantugloma Water Committee (Blogs 18-19) and a Construction Minga to replace an infiltrator water intake at Malingua Yaku (Blogs 10, 12-13). Our Ecuadorian friends have serious hustle and are a real pleasure to work with as they develop their own expertise to help themselves and their neighbors in the best sense of sustainability per Rotary Future Vision.

TravelBlog.Org offers a great tool to keep family, friends, and extended team updated on my progress and helped quickly answer a number of monitoring questions real time, well, almost real time. I see the photos show nicely on a mini-laptop but are somewhat grainy on larger screen, but overall feel very pleased to reduce my post-trip reporting needs and I am now organized for presentations with higher resolution photos.

My sincere thanks to the MP community for their hospitality and friendship, Pam Gilbert and CELM for guiding me (actually lassoing me) into this wonderful opportunity, EWB for welcoming me onto the team, Marco for Spanish tutoring, family and friends in Grand Lake for support, and to Rotary for promoting service above self while having fun!



South America » Ecuador » Centre » Quilotoa March 6th 2013

Back to Travelogue -- after completing tasks in and around Malinguapamba, i decided to trek part of the Quilotoa Loop and so ditched some gear and for the first time in many years hiked lightweight with all my possetions on my back. Learned quickly that there are infinite possibilities in terms of trails because everyone walks here, also that it is, indeed, best to trek downhill and hitchhike uphill :-) My first ride was with Sacatoro Clan (I suspect Dona Josefina sent them), then more walking inoto foggy evening when local Pastor made sure i got to Hostal Llullullama in Isinlivi. After some R&R/laundry and Sunday service at local church, did some short hikes and visited famous woodworking facility now focused upon renovation of chapel. Continued trek to Sigchos where buses connect to Latacunga and Quito. ... read more
2 Trek from Malinguapamba to Isinlivi, hiking + hitchhiking
3 Mr Toad's wild ride with the Sacatoro boys
4 Isinlivi overlook, quiet town on the Quilotoa Loop

South America » Ecuador » Centre » Quilotoa March 6th 2013

Quick blog to share photos of school life in Malinguapamba. School was grim before the wonderful enhancements by Centro Educativo La Minga (CELM) under guidance of Pamelita Gilbert, now Malinguapamba is a vibrant, kid-rich place on school days with classes, sports, and cafeteria for 80 kids each week. One of my goals was to teach watershed science along with technical/vocational training on field survey techniques (see Blog 11). After sitting in on some teacher meetings and attending some classes, it became clear the teachers are already covering "Medio Ambiental" + climate + geography well, so i focused my efforts on the younger kids and our project to develop a watershed coloring book based upon an existing book by Porvenir. Our aim would be to develop more Ecuador-specific detail with the younger age groups so they can ... read more
2 MP CELM Soccer
3 MP CELM mural, note Pamelita on right
4 MP CELM murals Water is Life

South America » Ecuador » Centre » Quilotoa March 5th 2013

Technical blog monitoring vivero (plant nursery) progress in community of Guantugloma While visiting springs, tanks, and existing irrigation system, the Guantugloma Water Committee showed us their vivero which uses same bags and planting techniques as Malinguapamba. Wonderful growth in only 2-6 months including a good diversity of plants, mostly shrubs, all native to the area, all from sprigs (cuttings planted into the ground rather than seeds). The plants are protected on the SW (i think) side of a Yawal shrub line to protect from wind but generally full sun. Successful plants include: Mortino (native blueberry), Yawal both Peruvian and "natural," Chilco, Cullia, Yurapanka, Malua (looks like gooseberry), and Aliso Peruviano. I won't try to sift through Quichua vs Spanish on these, but suffice to say they have ~ 1,000 plants ready for use in erosion control ... read more
2 Guant vivero 2-6 month growth
3 Guant vivero Mortino local blueberry, fruiting already
4 Guant harvest shubs for plantings, slash expected to grow

South America » Ecuador » Centre » Quilotoa March 5th 2013

Monitoring New Project Area with Paulino + Guantugloma Water Committee The Guantugloma community has respectfully requested help from their neighbors in Malinguapamba (MP), the Centro Educativo La Minga (CELM), Engineers Without Borders (EWB), and Rotary International (Rotary) to help them improve their water system, both potable and irrigation, following the successful examples at MP. Paulino has been guiding their effort and they have a strong committee set up, documented water rights, and the same cooperative attitude we find at MP. They also have a recent water tank project completed with funding from CELM and guidance from MP, now becoming the local experts on these systems. This may be where the re-usable tank forms now reside. Paulino and i drove up the road from Site 9/Mallingua Yaku to Guantugloma and met with thier Water Committee including Augustine ... read more
2 Guant site 1 setting, springs in shrubs, paramo above
3 Guant Site 1 Water Committee + Paulino
4 Guant Site 1 detail

South America » Ecuador » Centre » Quilotoa March 5th 2013

Quick monitoring blog for Site 9 where road from Malinguapamba to Latacunga crosses upper Yanarumi below Malingua Yaku. This is the site where EWB removed boulders from upstream end of culvert and Minga planted shrubs upstream along channel. Big boulder remains in place. Downstream is still VERY sketchy with steep cut below culvert putting road at risk; on the other hand the conservation work upstream probably limits the amount of material and peak flows expected from upstream. Lots of rock available below culvert to create some check dams, maybe better to import more rock (+ ogs?) to create drop structures between culvert and channel below? Hard to see in photo 6 but note light blue pipe is broken end of water collection pipe lost during channel downcutting and now perched above channel bed. Suggest bringing channel ... read more
2 MP site 9 from side + ignacio + truck
3 MP site 9 upstream looking downstream
4 MP Site 9 Ignacio upstream plantings 100% success rate

South America » Ecuador » Centre » Quilotoa March 5th 2013

Quick monitoring blog on tanks and answers to JonG questions. Although my focus was on intake areas, i did pass by several tanks and was able to learn that in general the tank system is working well now after recent upgrades, constant vigilence required but maintenance not a heavy burdent. For instance, walking anywhere with Sacatoro brothers we always checked tanks as we walked by and at least one time we heard folks hollering about tank maintenance from other side of vally. Paulino did indicate the re-usable concrete forms were stored somewhere but i did not catch the exact location. He also told me that the big, older tank was constructed some time ago and he did not remember exactly when or by whom. There is great interest in larger tanks for storage but recognition that ... read more
2 MP tank Tanque Chenchiloma i think
3 MP Tanks Tanque Brad + temp plastic, note lid flew off in wind and crumpled
4 MP Tank sign ISF + CELM

South America » Ecuador » Centre » Quilotoa March 5th 2013

Tech Monitoring Blog for October 2012 Erosion Control Minga Project Area = Will Mahoney's Site 96 Site 96 is a drainage immediately north of Malinguapamba with an eroding scarp uphill from the road and gully (riochuelo) downstream. EWB-guided Minga last October installed rock revetment, check dams, drop structures, cutback slopes, laid in erosion control blankets, and planted shrubs. (Profesor) Ignacio Sacatoro told me it was very dry for first couple of months but there has been recent rain and we saw good evidence of significant runoff. Overall great success downstream from road, comparing photos it looks like all BMPs remain in place with no new downcutting or flanking. In fact, the channel downstream from road is now collecting as much as 25 cm new sediment which in turn reduces stress on banks but sandy texture limits ... read more
2 MP Site 96 uphill scarp sed source area needs check dams + veg
3 MP Site 96 upstream scarp hmmm, cool cross-bedding
4 MP Site 96 upstream scarp looking downhill, sediment source

South America » Ecuador » Centre » Quilotoa March 5th 2013

The comunities of Malinguapamba/Pucara have moved ahead with their own erosion control project in December 2012 applying lessons learned with Engineers without Borders (EWB) in October 2012 and using some 1,500-2,000 leftover plants from their vivero (plant nursery) after the EWB Minga effort. The project stabilizes most of ~ 2 km roadway between Malinguapamba and Pucara, including some incredibly steep slopes 100% and greater. Visual estimate is greater than 90% success rate, generating big smiles for Ignacio Sacotoro, my guide for the day. The slopes are truely STEEP! as in vertigo-steep! Other photos here document previous "BMPs" including drainage and good use of yucca to stabilize slopes. NOTE that i saw several other sites where the community is using vivero plantings and erosion control techniques to stabilize slopes, especially along roadways.... read more
2 MP Camino mid project area, note instability at drainage = Will Mahoney site 31-32
3 MP CamPuc Ignacio plantings high success rate
4 MP Camino plantings on 125 percent + Ignacio

South America » Ecuador » Centre » Quilotoa March 5th 2013

One of my primary technical goals of this trip was to better understand the water source areas and collection techniques in the Malingua Yaku area (see Blogs 10 and 11) including source-water protection. In photos 1-4 here the protected area is clearly visible as a heavly vegetated area between the (resistant volcanic) peaks, in an otherwise well-grazed landscape. Paulino Sacatoro explained that before conservation, a farmer cultivated land and grazed animals near the intakes and drinking water had moderate quality. Photos 6-7 show a similar area. After a fire ~ 10 years ago, the entire area burned and water quality plumetted, with obvious issues in terms of sediment and health effects in Malinguapamba/Tunguiche/Pucara. Everyone in community recognized water quality problems. The community began a conservation effort including buying out the farmer working that area and working ... read more
2 MP Source Protection from north, note excellent vegetetation to right of new fence
3 MP Source Protection paramo grazed
4 MP Source Protection veg change clouds

South America » Ecuador » Centre » Quilotoa February 28th 2013

Quick monitoring blog for Malinguapamba vivero (plant nursury), also on my technical to-do list. Vivero was set up some time ago and used to cultivate several thousand plants used during the October EWB erosion control mingas, also the locally-initiated December planting minga for Camino de Pucara (2 km at greater than one plant per meter, more in blog later). Vivero was a bit rough when i arrived but a minga cleaned things up while i was there. Did not have time to count but estimate 5,000 + bags full of soil and in place ready for planting, also ~125 plants ready to go. Reasonable diversity, not much Scottish broom, good sense we can grow LOTS of plants for future efforts. Also noticed additional ground downhill from vivero and including sprinklers, not vivero? Note the Malinguans are ... read more
2 MP vivero before minga 2
3 MP vivero after minga nice and clean, ready for next project
4 MP vivero 5 trees




Tot: 2.476s; Tpl: 0.051s; cc: 3; qc: 84; dbt: 0.0633s; 2; m:saturn w:www (104.131.125.221); sld: 2; ; mem: 1.5mb