Trip Report: The Other Kind of Drilling

The Well

Every once in a while I clamber down from my ivory towered headquarters at launchday inc and intermingle with you, the great unwashed. Last week was one such event and let me tell you, the fresh air and sunshine nearly killed me.

I plunked my benjamins onto the countertop and bought a roundtrip ticket to destiny. Hey, guess what – apparently there’s a whole world out there.

The country was called “guatemala” which i thought was some sort of fruit or melon but no it’s a whole country.

According to the guidebook i read on the flight, apparently it used to be full of people, then the spanish came in the 1500s and killed all the people. Now its a mix of spanish and those people, whose ruins in those jungle attract the tourists.

But that’s not why we were there.

We were there for destiny. One tall order of destiny, please, with a side of rice.

So – imagine this. you’re born. and you live in a thing, like a house or a hut or whatever. And all your life you get water from some dirty creek. And sure yes sometimes that doesn’t go well. People being people, that dirty creek gets used for all kinds of things.

To illustrate, more people die of diarrhea each year than AIDS.

So i connected with a team of folks to go somewhere like the above and do what i could to fix it. Call it a random act of kindness. When you make about a dollar a day, and you get paid about six months out of the year, you just can’t afford that 2nd SUV like you can here in the states. Or the plumbing infrastructure. The challenge is tangible – they dont even have cable. I do. So i decided to clamber down etc etc and go somewhere and actually do something.

And one thing I learned (queue the theme music) is that people are really nice. It’s not just about water (or whatever it is you’re into), its about (wait for it) humanity. One little human at a time. You pull up in some random community some where, get out, and boom – mobbed by a bunch of little kids. Apparently – and I didn’t realize this – but apparently they’re people too.

So there’s this organization that’s good at drilling wells in out of the way areas, and they’re kind enough to let people like me (high powered fancy-suited control freaks pulling the strings of commerce, etc) go on some of their trips and do some work with them. One community at a time, they’re sinking wells – very simple hand-pumped wells – and giving folks a chance at some clean water.

And while the well is a pretty good excuse to go – and heaven knows how much fun it is playing with someone else’s extremely expensive portable drilling rig – when you’re there, it becomes more about the peeps, which was weird. I’m more used to using fellow humans as stepping stones, not actually interacting with them.

And i’ll tell you what, fellow americans. We may have the color-coded set of mercedes and track suits, but they have something we’ll never have. And i don’t even know what it’s called. Probably: each other.

1. the team
The rag tag team of ruffians I hooked up with were from my small group at church. (remember churches? me neither. small groups? nope.) These are weird people. They do things like go to prisons and help inmates. Or go to mexico and build houses. Or go to guatemala and build wells. Bunch of whack jobs. One of them started a little charitable organization for chicks to ditch the pedicures and facials (snicker) and give the money to the well instead. So she spearheaded “raising funds” whatever that means, people chipped in, and once that happened, we all wanted to go build the sucker because – how can you not. About 8 grand to put a well in, people. Let’s face it, my lunch yesterday cost more than that. (Not that I’d skip it to put a well in.)

2. the organization
its, or “living water international.” These are the guys working around the globe putting wells in. They’re smart, and they have cool toys. – with a couple clicks you can be hooked up with one of these trips. I double dog dare you.

3. the community
we ended up in a place called Masagua. Could have been anywhere. The last time I did one of these, we ended up in a place called Nicaragua. (Also not a fruit, rather an entire country. I’m telling you people, who knew these things were out there??) you’re going down a road, then you’re going down some other road, and it’s made of dirt, then you keep going, then you’re there.

4. the well
the well itself is (surfer voice) “pretty cool, man”. You dig, then you shovel some mud, then you send a drill bit down a 100 feet or so, then you do it again, then you dig some more mud, then you lug some gravel around in wheel barrows, some other stuff happens then you’re done. along the way you work with the “dudes,” the locals who shovel way better than you and work harder than you and who mostly keep you from killing yourself with tools. plus they’ll occasionally pull down a coconut for you chop it with a machete and let you drink it. muchas gracias senor – muchas gracias.

5. the chocolate and the coffee
final note here. respect to guatemala. i got a chance to do a little poking around in a city called antigua, and let me tell you. this country takes its coffee and chocolate seriously, and ive got one word for that – respect.

The Well