Community Project in Las Lomitas

Average rainfall in Las Lomitas is somewhere in the 120”/year zone. That is QUITE A BIT OF AGUA. Anyone who has visited can attest to the incredible benefits and detriments of having this much rain. It means near constant, magical irrigation for crops, but serious also erosion issues. We always have rainwater in the cistern, but the dirt roads always have ruts in them. Rut is the political term, baby canyons might be more accurate at some times. The variation in the condition of the road in Las Lomitas is based primarily on how strong the storms are at any given time and when the last time the municipality passed the machina over the surface. When our road is at its very best and capable of rally-level autocrossing, I can be home in 7 minutes flat. When our sorry excuse for a road hasn’t been resurfaced in a couple of years, it can take up to 25 minutes to pull into the house and let the shocks and first gear take a break.

Even here “in town” the road can get pretty vile. In two places in particular, an enormous amount of water comes rushing down off the hills onto an a very side side-road that then cuts straight across the “main” road, cut here being used in the context of

Cutv- To slice right on through like a chainsaw. E.g. The water cut a big honkin hole through the road.

Many dearly-beloved sandals have been lost by neighbors trying to wade through these muddy torrents. Rumor even has it that a dog took a ride down the road one day only to come back in pretty sad shape later that night after the storm calmed.

Needless to say, everyone gets pretty sick of having to deal with the roads in these conditions. Just walking down the road can get pretty treacherous at times. It is a serious hamper to development as it actually limits the kind of vehicles that can traverse our community. Not to mention a major bummer to the bus service that everyone would like to see some day. So, a few months ago, the Las Lomitas Patronato (Community Council) solicited a project to install three concrete cajas puentes (literally “box bridges” – actually culverts) to pass the water under the road at the most ruinous junctions. Thanks to a generous donation from Cherry Hills Community Church, this is now becoming a reality.

We were proud to see Las Lomitas rally around their local resources with NO prompting. When we reached the Local Resources section of the solicitation, Pablo immediately noted that the community had some lumber and tin roof sections that could be used as forms for the concrete mold work. He also immediately spat out that the men in town could do all of the non-professional labor and that a mason in town could be payed by a donor at a reduced rate since he honestly wants to see the community improve. This is a significant change from the man that said that Las Lomitas had nothing three years ago even after prompted and prodded.
Pablo is in the orange shirt here. The green shirt is Victor, our local mason.
So, this past week, work began. The first (and truly most difficult) order of business was organizing every male over 16 years of age into work parties of 5 men. One hour later, 16 groups of 5 had been created and assigned work dates. The following three days, they dug holes and ditches that would send a backhoe whimpering back home with its tail between its legs. If a dump truck happened into such a hole, it would not be coming out without a crane. The mayor sent (finally) 15 cubic meters of sand, and the masonry work began the next day. My own work day happened to be on the day that we finished the first of the three structures. They are impressive and intimidating when all of the concrete mixing is done by hand. As we worked though, I marveled in particular at the willingness of the people to work, and the small but significant changes that have happened in Las Lomitas over these past three or so years. The trickle-down effect of development is truly amazing.

  • The lumber and roofing sheets being used for the concrete form work are from the old school roof that was replaced by an HTH/Las Lomitas community project. These materials are stored in a shed made of the same materials.
  • The water that is being used to make the concrete comes from the church’s rainwater cistern, which is now the only source of such water in town since the community’s pump went down again last month (soon to be back online!).
  • The little caseta (bus stop) building has been being used as shade/project central for the largest structure being built. It has served as saw horse, cafeteria, shade tree, cement deposit, and park bench during this project.
  • Most significantly, the people working on the project recognized the need in the community and what they could do to accomplish the project. They then self-organized and started, even against the opposition of some cranky naysayers.
These types of community projects do wonders for village morale. When they are organized and executed by the local people, a type of true ownership is created that could never happen should the project be imposed upon or executed for our friends here. Las Lomitas is buzzing with the good news right now and quite a few of the men are legitimately proud of the work being accomplished. We are thrilled to see the church serve as a storage shed and work site for the cement and rebar, and even happier to have been a small part of such an awesome community initiative with Cherry Hills, the Community of Las Lomitas, the Municipal Government of Santa Cruz de Yojoa, and Heart to Honduras.

To be continued once this half has dried. It must be done one half at a time in order to allow cars to still pass.
Caja Puente #2 the day before construction.
Blanca Nieve supervises construction.

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