On Monday we began our last week here in Rwanda. Our system is still far from complete. However it’s an exciting time because steps are going quickly and every day the system looks more and more like an actual structure! Yesterday the masons heaved up the three bulky trusses and secured them on top of our 3.5-meter-tall columns. We are amazed by how casually the masons work and move around on their scaffolding. It is made from young local Eucalyptus trees and every time they use a hammer the entire thing shakes. They laid down a couple rows of 2 by 2’s on the trusses and today they attached the corrugated steel roof onto the 2 by 2’s. This means that in the remainder of the week we need to get the tanks positioned on the foundations and attach all the gutters, piping, first flush system, taps, etc. There has also been progress adding a tank to the Gasebeya site. The foundation has been completed and today we found the tank at the site. This was an impressive feat as the property is surrounded by an 8-foot-tall volcanic rock wall… We are still not exactly sure how the tank got passed the wall, but it goes to show the committedness and efficiency of the community members. Because most of the work at our site is dependent on the skills of the masons we left early today to touch-up the older systems. We put new caulk along the tank-pipe connections and painted construction information on the tanks at each site. We hope that the date and source of construction will be useful for surveyors.
As our return to Colorado begins to approach I have been trying to absorb this place as much as possible. The northern province on Rwanda is easily one of the most interesting locations I have ever seen. The elevation is about 6,900 ft (basically the elevation of CU) and it lies just a few degrees south of the Equator. But surprising, it is much cooler than Colorado. Every day the temperature gets up to the high 70's and in the morning and evening it is just chilly enough to wear a jacket. The region is also scattered with dramatic volcanoes, some of which are over 14,000 ft tall. At certain times of the year the tallest ones even receive snow! These volcanoes play an important role in Rwanda's tourism industry because they provide a suitable ecosystem for the critically endangered mountain gorilla. On Saturday some of us went to the Dian Fossey Foundation/Museum in Musanze. My favorite part was learning that the scientific name for the western lowland gorilla (found in the DRC) is Gorilla gorilla gorilla!!!