Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Day 5: Muscles I Didn’t Even Know I Had Hurt

Today started out as a great day.  The first day of sampling residences in Potosí was finally here!  We had breakfast, I packed up the sampling supplies, and we left Cayara for Potosí.  Once we arrived at Olivo’s office, we met up with our new colleagues and were getting ready to head out the door.  Until…I realized I forgot the dust wipes.  I was so mad at myself, having triple checked the sampling bag before we left, I could not believe I could be so stupid.  So, Cesar and I headed back to Cayara while the rest of the team headed out to get started.  After over an hour of travel, we met back up with the team, dust wipes in hand, and found out they were only on the second house.  Perfecto!

Or so I thought.  The day continued to unravel in a less than ideal way.  The young ladies we are working with have done a lot of preparing for our trip, setting up the 50 houses and explaining the project to them.  They had a list of names and addresses of people who had agreed to participate, so we were following them.  A team of two of the young ladies was always one step ahead of the sampling team, making sure people were home, etc.  Except, it didn’t quite go so smoothly.  Some people who had agreed to participate no longer wanted to participate or weren’t home.  Others didn’t want to listen to the 15 minute long verbal consent.  It was a long day of tracking down participants.

The houses here are very different than in Huancavelica.  A majority of the homes have both sealed walls and floors, so collecting adobe and soil was a bit challenging.  We managed to collect a decent mass of adobe and soil but not quite as much as we had hoped.  But by the end of the day, we had collected adobe, soil, dust, and air samples from 15 homes.  Not too bad for the first day.  And Nick is right: it was good to push people to their limit today, because tomorrow is going to be even worse (or better, depending on who you talk to).  Our goal for tomorrow is 20 houses.

Today, however, I discovered muscles I didn’t even know I had.  Potosí is very high altitude (14,000 feet), and we were lugging sampling equipment up and down steady inclines.  Having grown up in Pittsburgh, the “hills” we walked seemed silly.  But I was stupid enough to bring my computer in my backpack, along with some other things we needed for the day (including my SPF 50, Mom, even though my nose ended up sunburned anyway), so I was hauling extra weight.  These “hills” kicked my ass, to be honest, with the weight of my gear and the altitude.  I have muscles aching all over my body, in places I didn’t even know were supposed to have muscles.  I’m pretty sure I burned at least three times the calories of my breakfast and granola bar/cheese sandwich lunch.

Well, I’m exhausted.  My wood burning stove has my room nice and toasty, and I think it’s time to call it a night.  Tomorrow is going to be a long, productive, awesome day.

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